This story helps us understand that God was there all along as the silent partner in Joseph’s life. He had to confront the reality of the circumstances that had fallen his way and to determine that he was still in the hands of a God who controlled the larger stage on which his life was being lived out. God may not have been micromanaging the story, but the Eternal God was in the wings setting the stage for future events.
We all have our battles with God. Some of you have been fighting with God for a long, long time. But in the light of the coming dawn, after fighting with God through the night and all you can do is hold your own, what you discover is out of God’s unlimited storehouse of love and grace, God is ready to bless you.
Funny how when God finally gets our attention and we realize God is trying to do great and wonderful things through us and wants to bless all of creation with our existence in the world. What we discover is that God is not interested in our abilities to manipulate the world. What we discover is that God wants to radically transform us from the inside out, making us more like God than the world.
God’s love is poured out like a fountain flowing to fill your life … When we live God’s love in everything we do or say, God’s love and kindness flows in such quantity it is poured out like a waterfall that never stops. The water flows and flows and flows whether you pay attention or not. In fact, the waterfall flows endlessly day and night, day after day … no matter who you are, no matter whether you’re tall or short, skinny or fat, no matter what color your skin is, or whether you’re good at sports or video games or what. God’s love is like a fountain pouring out day and night God’s goodness and love for you.
God is the God of all, from the top to the bottom, from the left to the right, from the oppressor to the oppressed. God is the God of us all and there’s room at God’s table of reconciliation for us all.
Credo: It’s my belief the creation story in Genesis is a religious story rich in faith but not one meant to be understood in a scientific or literal way. I believe in science and so do you. The book of Genesis was written in an age before science was known or understood. To hold the Bible up as scientific writing is to do harm to its original intent or meaning.
God is breathing all the time, in and out of us, and in and out of the world. Our task is to simply breathe in the grace of God; breathe out the love of God. We breathe in the grace of God and we exhale out the love of God. When we do this spiritual exercise, we will be visited by the Holy Spirit.
These words in Chapter One of Acts are a freeze frame for the moment, giving us a quick look at the circumstances of the church just before the Spirit of God invaded the world of human believers. Our task is to be ready when the winds of the Spirit begin to blow. We are to be busy being faithful so that when the winds pick up and begin to blow, we can go with them. We are the carriers of the Spirit in our world and God wants us to be ready when the answers come.
Because of the occasional deaths of Christians in the world today, Peter’s letter speaks painfully across the centuries to those of us who live seemingly protected lives about how we are to be ready for our time of suffering if it should come our way. [ ]Peter’s letter reminds us that following Jesus is the right thing to do. In following Jesus, we are expected to live right. We can’t revert to our old ways of living. We are to live courageously and faithfully doing the right thing day in and day out.
From nobodies to somebodies. From stone cold dead to living stones. Each one of us, having a place in the heart and purposes of God. God is inviting you to come join in the project. There’s a process that’s offered.
The lesson that persecution had to teach the early church was a radical realignment of their values. Those things they had previously thought were important turned out to be worthless and empty. And those things they had overlooked because they weren’t considered of worth turned out to be the very things needed. Our problem is that we place more emphasis on our things than on the people in our lives. The value of persecution is that we are forced to see them both in a new light.
What seems significant about this baptismal sermon is the way it holds the crucifixion and the resurrection together as one event.[ ]In truth, each needs the other to be wholly true. Without the crucifixion, we might be tempted to be triumphalistic as though we walk between the raindrops of the reality sin and evil and suffering. We would become escapists and many Christians seem to take that position in their denial of injustice and their refusal to connect the dots between faith and life.
Practice resurrection. That’s our gospel today … to go from here to practice resurrection! There’s nothing shy at all about this response. We are to live fully in God’s thunderous YES! We are to live God’s resounding affirmation of the world and all God’s children who need God’s offer of love and reconciliation.
The intertwined stories of Jesus and Lazarus stand as a witness to the power of God over the despair and emptiness of death. In short, as Jesus stands in front of Lazarus’ grave, he stands in front of his own. This makes this incident of Lazarus a preview of the main attraction that will follow. [ ]“Your brother will rise again.” In that proclamation, Jesus was pointing beyond the power of death to a realm of faith few of us have achieved. “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live … Do you believe in this?”
A man who has never seen the faces of his friends or family, the smiles of children, a sunset or a brilliant night sky, finally sees! But when he comes back a healed man, no one celebrates with him. [ ]No one believes him and the man is cast out of the synagogue and cut off from the Torah. He’s cut off from his family, the sweet-smelling incense of the Sabbath, and the certitude of the Law. By the end of the tale, he’s victimized one last time … all for looking deeply and directly into the Light.
The church of the imperative mood is slowly dying and being replaced by a different way of practicing the faith and that shift has questioned the old platforms on which faith has been practiced. In the past preaching described faith using the verbs, ought, should, and must. [ ] But this is not the only way faith is framed. Interrupting all this imperative language, Jesus tells the multitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit ... blessed are those who mourn ... blessed are the meek.” Notice something missing?
Standing on a hillside overlooking the deep blue Sea of Galilee with the huge crowd that was now following him, Jesus took society’s standards of happiness and turned them upside down. He came to tell them that what appeared to be the world’s wisdom was the world’s foolishness. He seems to be saying, “Stop it! You’ve got it all wrong! What you thought was down is up.
God has made you for a reason and if you are available, God will make your life count. Imagine that, God picks you! You are gifted for some key place in life that will advance God's life in the world. What will you say to that?
Every conversion has a price. Something is gained, but something is lost as well and the loss may prove to be painful … The gospel not only resolves problems which trouble us; it creates problems which we never had before and which we would gladly avoid. There’s always a price to be paid when we do what God calls us to do. The truth is we change because we must. The work of the Spirit of God is such that slowly, imperceptibly, occasionally even dramatically, our old lives are challenged by the new reality of the redemption of God. We discover because we have died with Christ and have been redeemed in the newness of life, we are changed people.
What do we do with that close-up vision of the face of Jesus causing us to come to a mute stillness to take it in? The face is meant for us to remember that God came in the form of a child born in the night among beasts. “And nothing is ever the same again.”
In this story, there is a startling surprise that accompanies Christ’s return. For some, those who have been guided by the right values and have tended to the world in compassionate ways, there is one surprise, viz., that all their small efforts to do some good in the world has been duly recognized by the God of creation.[ ]But others, those who are guided by different values and have tended to their neighbor with hard-hearted indifference, not willing to give of themselves for the common good, their response will also be recognized for what it is and they will awarded in a different way.
Instead, Paul told them to stay alert, expectant that the Lord would indeed come back but not to quit their jobs. In other words he said, “Stay alert … but stay busy!” Then he clarified himself: “Do not grow weary of doing good.” We must model belief from those who are not just living inwardly, but who are busy doing good where working for the common good is needed most.
There are places where religious liberty does not exist and the freedom to practice your faith is not allowed. Could you suffer for your faith? Could you lose your life in those places because of your faith?
I doubt any of the saints we’ve remembered today woke up and decided to become a saint. They weren’t looking to be martyrs for a cause. They weren’t perfect human beings by a long shot. They didn’t become saints by being perfect. They became saints by being faithful to their identity as the children of God.