Get A Life?

What a Coffee and Life We’ve been Given!

Get a life, right side up

Get a life. That’s what people had told the farmer-woman, when she discovered her ex-husband had molested their children. Get a life. She’d already left him behind after the cops only took him for coffee when they came and found him playing Russian Roulette with her life. Get a life?

She told her story when a new acquaintance, an older man, mentioned to her how the cops tried to arrest him after is ex, with whom he can have no contact, chased him down country roads trying to force contact. He was afraid for his life and called 911 when other vehicles were caught as she blocked the roads in front of him. As the cops left, threatening to arrest him if this ever happened again, they told him to get a life.

Look and Find the Light, Find a Life?

Get a Life! What is Life? Who are we to get it? We think we know and then the Good News of Jesus Christ (also in today’s lessons) turns our understanding of life right-side-up.

OT: we expect God to demand; not.

As we read the OT Lesson we may expect Moses to demand that the people obey God’s commandments, which are hard to understand, require research to discover, and great effort to obey. But maybe if the people persevere and obey the commandments then they will get to enter into the Promised Land. Not at all so.

Twain: Do Good, gratify, astound

Mark Twain once wrote “Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”

Twain’s humour catches us because we too often think that always doing the right thing is an option too far from reality to be considered.

Gospel: Parable of surprises

Today’s Gospel is delightful, full of corrections that keep surprising us, even though we are so familiar with the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Jesus Answers Different Questions

The lawyer’s questions are often our own. They seem right and most important for life. Yet they are all wrong. In fact, Jesus answers as if the lawyer had asked different questions.

The lawyer asks: what must I do to inherit eternal life.

Jesus answers: how can we have life now.

The lawyer asks: who is my neighbour whom I shall love.

Jesus answers: who is a real neighbour, to those in need regardless of who they are.

It would be so much easier if Jesus just answered the question of who our neighbour is. We could limit who we must love to just those people! That would be a little more possible to do, and we could always fudge who was our neighbour so that we did not need to help the billions who are in great need.

Good Samaritans Loose teeth

When we see people in need, it’s too easy to come up with all sorts of reasons to walk by on the other side of the road. The robbers could be lying in wait for anyone who comes to the aide of the half dead man.

An old Winthrop cartoon (1982) shows two small boys staring off into the distance. One of the boys, Winthrop, starts to recognize what he is seeing. “What’s going on over there? Looks like a fight! … It’s Nasty McNarf … He’s beating up on some kid! … Come on… Let’s go and make Nasty leave that kid alone!”

The second boy speaks up, “Wait a minute…I don’t think we’d better do that.”

“What do you mean?” asks Winthrop, “Don’t you want to be a Good Samaritan?”

“Frankly, no.” replies the second boy. “Good Samaritans always wind up with loose baby teeth.”

But remember: we are going to lose baby teeth and our lives eventually. Adult teeth and life eternal will replace them.

We try to get eternal life on our own terms

Exactly, so we are right there with the lawyer asking what can we do to inherit eternal life. Instead of answering that question, Jesus asks back what the lawyer knows well: what does the law say he should do. The lawyer answers: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus replies: You know it! Now do it!

What does love look like? (in the Gospel)

What does it look like to love God, our neighbour, and ourselves, with all our heart, soul, strength and mind?

It looks like crossing the road in order that we can help, aide, assist, and care for those who are left half dead by the roadways through the world, and thereby allow ourselves to be marked as foolish, unclean, not-blessed by God, and not welcome at work or in worship.

It looks like giving a full day of our life to an unexpected need of another person, again and again.

It looks like giving a great portion of our purse or wealth so that another less fortunate person’s wounds will be bound up and given a chance to heal, so that person will regain life.

It looks like promising carte blanche that we will cover the costs of providing life to another person in need.

All this to our enemy

It looks like doing all this for our mortal, religious, economic, and/or personal enemy who is left half dead on the side of life’s road, left there by all those things and people and circumstances that can so easily beat us up, rob us of everything we have, and leave us half dead. It is knowing always that but for the Grace of God, we would never survive even a day of the Devil’s guile and destruction.

The Homeless Guy who gives

Tony Campolo, a minister and sociologist from Philadelphia tells this story:

“… walking down the street in Philadelphia …  a [dirty looking homeless man] came towards me. I mean a … filthy guy  .. from head to toe. …He had this huge beard

[with]

rotted food stuck in [it]. As he approached me, he held out a cup of McDonald’s coffee and said, ‘Hey mister, want some of my coffee?’

“[I thought to myself, not on your life, but] I said, ‘Thanks, but that’s okay,’ and I walked by him. The minute I passed him, I knew I was doing the wrong thing, so I turned around and said, ‘Excuse me. I would like some of your coffee.’

“I … sipped … and gave it back to him. … ‘You’re being generous. How come…?’

“… this [guy] looked at me and replied, ‘… the coffee was especially delicious today and I think that when God gives you something good, you ought to share it with people.’

“I didn’t know how to handle that, so I said, ‘Can I give you anything?’ I thought that he would hit me [up] for five dollars.

…‘No.’ [he turned to go, and then turned back], ‘Yeah, yeah. … there is something you can give me. You can give me a hug’

“[I held my breath, wishing he’d asked for] five dollars! He put his arms around me and I put my arms around him…. as I, in my establishment dress, and he, in his filthy garb, hugged each other on the street, I had the strange awareness that I wasn’t hugging a bum, [no. Jesus was hugging me.]”

In Baptism: Enter the Promised Land, then Obey for Goodlife’s Sake

Returning to the OT lesson: God does not reward obedience with entrance to the Promised Land. All get to enter. The commandments are not far away, difficult to find or to understand: God has put them in our mouths and in our hearts! The commandments are not burdensome; they are life-giving. They are God’s guide for abundant life. Obedience brings us to live well, so that God delights in our renewed prosperity as we move out of slavery into the Promised Land!

In our baptisms we have already receive eternal life. Now what are we going to do with this life in the Promised Land?

Farmer’s Parting Words

As the farmer-woman drove away, she shouted out her truck window to the man harassed by his ex and the cops: They are jealous. Don’t let them tell you to get a life; you have one. They’re just trying to take it from you.

Do not be afraid, Do not be shamed.

Jesus says do not be afraid, we cannot be shamed for we already have a life, a good life.

What now?

So what are we going to do with God’s gift of our good, abundant lives in the Promised Land?

Giving what God Has Given Us

Jesus’ Parable compels us to ask: What kind of life do we live if we do not stand ready to risk losing everything that God has given us, in order that others may live, and live abundantly?

After all, without Jesus’ redemption we would remain strangers to God, and no matter what we would do, we would be lost, our lives worthless and meaningless. But with Jesus’ redemption we inherit the Kingdom of God.

Answers not far, nor impossible, for God is with us

The answers to life’s questions and mysteries are not too far away in the chaos of pre-creation between the galaxies that we must send someone to bring the answers to us. The answers are on our lips, and in our hearts: We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, strength and soul, and our neighbours as our selves.

This love is all very possible for us:

for our strength is from God’s all-mighty power,

for our freedom and faith are given to us as free gifts by Jesus,

for our days are guided, inspired, and completed by the spectacular truth and light of the Holy Spirit.

Walking Toward Us: the Blessings God Shares with So Many People.

We’ve got a life, given to us … and there’s really good coffee coming down the street toward us. …

Are we ready for Jesus to give each of us a huge, warm hug?

What a thing of beauty this life is!

Amen

2019.07Jul07

Names in the Sky

Rough Draft:

lots of repetitions and sections needing tightening, deleting, or rewording, the essence is there though.

Still looking though the woods and trees to see the light.

Our Names are Written in Heaven

Skywriting:

Jane came out to the airport as she often did to watch Matt take off for his day’s work, crop dusting. This time Matt seemed to avoid getting off the ground, working around Steve’s plane instead. Then as Steve rolled out on to the grass runway Matt came over to Jane and asked her if she’d like a cup of coffee. He then stood with her, each with a cup of coffee in hand as Steve took off and began to spell out in the sky: S … U … lots of loops and crossing back and for forth for each letter E … M … A … … R … R … As Steve began the Y … Jane turned to Matt, knocking both their cups and spilling coffee freely, and hugged him, with a loud YES, and as Steve finished the … M … and the final E with the added touch of a ?, Matt came up for air from the long kiss he had planted on Jane to see the all 18 employees of the three businesses at the airport come outside to see, first Jane and Matt, then the trailing away letters Steve had written, and then to gather around Matt and Jane clapping. As Steve landed and ran over to join the crowd Matt and Jane were still shaking the hands of the people in line, taking their congratulations and well wishes, and answering they didn’t have solid plans yet but Jane was quick to say the wedding was going to be in their church, and long before it started to snow. Matt agreed, but the honeymoon would have to wait until winter.

With one marvelous flight, after years of joy, tears, and struggles Matt and Jane each knew that this day was wondrous, a dream come true. Everything about their lives was changed that day and again as they said their vows before the altar Jane’s great grandfather had built, covered with paraments made by her great grandmother. Over the previous 4 years, since they had started dating as teenagers, their lives had changed. No longer alone, everything took on a new perspective, the perspective of love.

Through their struggles they had learned that loving each other was wondrous, but also a lot of work, took a lot of patience, required a lot of forgiveness. The coming years would test the limits of their forbearance, their commitment to love and be gracious, and their ability to empathize for each other and other people for things they did not understand.

The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela

18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013

Nelson Mandela stands tall at 80 years old, the first black president of South Africa, not a Black South Africa and not a white country gripped and choked by apartheid, but a country started on the difficult journey to reconciliation. He had spent 27 years in jail, been finally set free, and reunited with his wife Winnie. Time apart and Winnie’s other love drove them to separate and then divorce. Madiba was leader of a nation while still in prison, and then he’d been a leader not elected but negotiated with, and then the elected president tasked with bringing together a country of people separated by hatred and terrible atrocities against each other.

A man filled with love of many kinds he was NOW the most lonely person on planet.

Loss of love is as devastating as love is equipping and empowering to take on all demons

Then Nelson Mandela falls in love again with, Graça Machel, the widow of Mozambican President Samora Machel. He marries her on his 80th birthday! She is a leader in her own right already at 57.

Work of Love

Love is not free: it must be worked at each and every day.

If you work at being the person who behaves ‘in love’ with your spouse, you will love your spouse, as delightfully, marvelously, as colorfully as the first day you fell in love. Not being in love with the person you are married to, or being in married to someone who is unkind, or refuses to work at love is often a living hell. Being alone, for most people, is a great challenge.

When you both work at being in love with each other, Look Out! Being in love with the person to whom you are married makes life simply awesome! The hurts roll off your back. The challenges are met as best they can be. The responsibilities are met as if they were freedoms. And the joys multiply all by themselves through the years. This is how God intended us to experience life!

Extending that love to each other, and then to all the people who your lives touch: that is what the Kingdom of God is about!

What does that mean for us?

Now that the Kingdom of God has come near, what does this mean for us?

Quote from Mother Theresa

Mother Teresa said, “Our work is constant. The problems of the poor continue, so our work continues. Yet everyone can do something beautiful for God by reaching out to the poor. I see only people filled with God’s love, wanting to do works of love. This is the future—this is God’s wish for us—to serve through love in action, and to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to act when called.” Mother Teresa, The Book of Peace: Finding the Spirit in a Busy World (London: Rider, 2002), 74.

The poor bring us past all pretensions and lay bare the necessities of life and the awesome source of life’s great goodness, Grace, Love and Hope. These are the reality of the Kingdom of God.

What does that mean for us? What are we going to do in response?

Now that the Kingdom of God has come near, what does this mean for us?

And what are we going to do in response?

The Gospel for today is clear: share the Good News, Prepare the Way

Our responses are our lives, every minute, every choice, every action or inaction. Today’s Gospel clearly turns us, as Jesus did the 70, to go out into all of creation, to all people, to prepare the way for our Lord, healing and sharing the Good News of God’s Grace for all people.

Responses of bringing the Good News

Some will accept and grow from the nurture of God, like the nurture of a prosperous city, the city of Jerusalem.

Some will reject us and the peace and love of God that we bring. Still the message is the same: the Kingdom of God has come near!

Other lessons, what Good News will we share?:

OT: Always God is there for us:

From our other lessons we hear what Good News we have to bring.

As the people to whom Isaiah writes, as they return from Exile, we can share God’s promise of nurture, comfort, delight, and peace. We can share the comforting image of God as a Mother nursing us, carrying us, dandling us on her knees!

The Jerusalem of the/to day

Isaiah writes to people who had lost the Jerusalem they had known. They have returned, but what they find is not the Jerusalem they knew. It is gone. They mourn it’s loss. What they find is not yet the New Jerusalem that God promises them; it is still to come, a promise of God for the end of time.

Result for us:

Yet even in the Jerusalem of the present, and for us we may say, even in the the city, country, or Land we live in now: Here and now God will make prosperity flow like a river, full and flooding it’s banks distributing silt and soil for all in it’s vicinity.

Our hearts can rejoice. Our bodies shall flourish.

God there for ALL of us, as the past is gone, the promise of tomorrow not yet

How do we respond to God’s gifts now and the promises for the future? We rejoice, even as we mourn the loss of the old Jerusalem, the way it was in the past. Even as we mourn that our churches are not like they were in the past, brimming Sunday Schoools, bustling with children, abuzz with activities for all ages, providing learning, and sometimes real Gospel and real Grace of God, and real love of God.

Even as we mourn the losses of time passing we look with hope to the new creation!

There are lots of ways to try to create false hope, a false return to the past that is gone, to deny the reality of God’s grace in the present. Sarah and Abraham repeatedly tried to force their claim on God’s promise, and what suffering has arisen from the split of the family between their son Isaac and and Abraham and Hagaar’s son, Ishmael; between Jews or Christians and Muslims.

There is little more foolish, obviously ridiculous than a 70 year old male (think Trump and others), a man of power and corruption, divorcing his wife of his youth, and claiming again and again a yet younger woman, in an effort to remain youthful. This stereotypical man vainly tries to deny his age, tries to mourn what is lost by denying it is GONE, DONE, PASSED. Instead he tries to buy, with wealth gained by corruption, an image of being younger than the actual OLD of his age.

Of course there is the woman, just as foolish who does the same. Or the woman who reaches for wealth and prestige by marrying a man old enough to be her father or grandfather. These self deceptions are equally foolish and destructive to all sorts of people.

More destructive perhaps are all the faithful but untrusting people who look to the past of the church (denying the change of culture around us away from church participation) and expend great energy trying to recapture what is lost, past, or dying; instead of working to be what God makes us able to be today.

We miss out on the opportunities to work in the real world, from the real stories of each other’s lives. Like ostriches, we bury our heads in sand, unable to see the GOODness of creation. And we suffocate there, hiding from reality. God cannot nurture us there: no comforting, no nursing, no dandling on God’s knees.

In spite of us, God, through the prosperity of the City of God, the City of Peace, nurtures, comforts, and provides for us.

For us who have returned home from exile,

For us who have deserted home for better efforts elsewhere

For us who, like the older son of the prodigal father, have remained, worked diligently at home, and are envious of the returnees given free grace, we receive grace even though we have come to rely on ourselves, our works, our merits … though they may be something, they are nothing before God,

We all NEED God’s Grace.

God, through the prosperity of the City of God, the city of peace, nurtures, comforts, provides for ALL of us, just like a Mother provides for all her children.

This is love: God’s Love for us and our delight in God. Responding to God’s love we sing for joy, with praise and adoration, even as we mourn the losses of the past.

The truth of love

The truth of God’s love for us is that it is unconditional. In love with us, each of us, even you, God writes our/your name/s in heaven.

With that God fulfills our dream of all dreams and our hope of all hopes. God makes everything right for us and for God!

God claims, names, and commissions us, sends us into the plentiful harvest.

What does that mean for us? What are we going to do in response?

Confused Paul in Galatians:

In Galatians Paul, as is too often the case provides, in poor koininia Greek, confused words. He writes: bear each other’s burdens, and then all must carry their own loads. If we read carefully we can decipher that he likely meant, as we each sin, the rest of us carry that person with gentleness. Afterall we each will sin, we each will have our turn of needing to be carried by the others.

But as we work in our vocation and as we work to share the Good News with everyone we each should carry our own load, to provide necessities of life, for ourselves and for others.

God comforts, nourishes, and promises us that all will be well. But we still get to work like the dickens to make life good for ourselves and our community, and those in need.

God’s care does not supplant our own labours, but rather God enables us so that our labours can be productive.

There is joy in diligent, hard, directed, purposeful labour. A necessity of life: air, water, food, clothing, shelter, purposeful labour, and love (giving and receiving). As others bring us the Good News we should provide for them so that they can share the Good News without concern for their survival.

As we work: remember God’s promise: most important

As we work we remember God’s promise that our names are written in heaven. This promise is more important than our ability in Christ’s name to heal, to feed, to care for, to love others, to forgive, to be gentle with each other.

Like Jane reading her own name in the sky God has acted, named us, written our names in heaven!

Wondrous miracles to see in this creation. But the greatest miracle is God’s Grace which names us as God’s, claims, names, blesses, and equips us. God nourishes us, comforts us and carries us; and most of all God Loves us as we are and for who we really are!

That our names are written in heaven is not because of a fluke, not because of our work, not because of our correct faith, not because of our hanging on to or our letting go of our histories.

Our names are written in heaven simply because God wants it so, out of love for us.

Seeing the Colours set for our Names to be revealed.

Writing in the Sky

Lessons

Isaiah 66:10-14,
Psalm 66:1-9,
Galatians 6:[1-6] 7-16,
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Rough Outline

Our Names are Written in Heaven

Skywriting:

A proposal by airplane. Wondrous, a dream come true for two people in love

Everything about their lives is changed:

The perspective of love.

The work of love

The forbearance of love

The genuine empathy of love

The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013

at 80, 27 years in jail, freed, reunited with Winnie, Winnie’s other love, separated from Winnie, divorced from Winnie, leader of a nation before he was even released from prison, and now a leader not elected but negotiated with, and then elected,

and NOW the most lonely person on planet.

Loss of love is as devastating as love is equipping and empowering to take on all demons

Then at at 79 Nelson Mandela falls in love again with, Graça Machel, the widow of Mozambican President Samora Machel. (born 17 Oct 1945.)

He marries her on his 80th birthday!

The trees, the stumps of the past, the light.

Work of Love

Love is not free: must be worked at each and every day.

If you work at being the person who behaves ‘in love’ with your spouse, you will love your spouse, as delightfully, marvelously, as colorfully as the first day you fell in love.

How that makes life different!

What does that mean for us?

Now that the Kingdom of God has come near,

Quote from Mother Theresa

Mother Teresa said, “Our work is constant. The problems of the poor continue, so our work continues. Yet everyone can do something beautiful for God by reaching out to the poor. I see only people filled with God’s love, wanting to do works of love. This is the future—this is God’s wish for us—to serve through love in action, and to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to act when called.” Mother Teresa, The Book of Peace: Finding the Spirit in a Busy World (London: Rider, 2002), 74.

What does that mean for us?

What are we going to do in response?

In the meanwhile:

Some will accept and grow from the nurture of God, like the nurture of a prosperous city, the city of Jerusalem.

Some will reject us and the peace and love of God that we bring. Still the message is the same: the Kingdom of God has come near!

Other lessons:

OT: Always God is there for us:

on return from Exile:

Promise of nurture, comfort, delight, and peace.

If ever an image is needed: of God: Mother nursing us, carrying us, dandling us on her knees!

The Jerusalem of the/to day

not the old, it’s gone, can be mourned

not the New, it’s coming, a promise of God at the end of time

Result for us:

Prosperity will flow like a river, full and flooding it’s banks distributing silt and soil for all in it’s vicinity.

Our hearts shall rejoice

our bodies shall flourish.

God there for ALL of us, as the past is gone, the promise of tomorrow not yet

Response: rejoice, even us that mourn the loss of the old Jerusalem, the way it was in the past.

Like brimming churches with SS busy with children, many per age in classrooms abuzz with activities, learning, and sometimes real Gospel and real Grace of God, and real love of God.

Mourn the loss, look to the new creation!

Nothing more foolish, bare obvious ridiculous than a 70 male, a man of power and corruption, divorcing himself from his wife of his youth, and claiming again and again a yet younger woman, in an effort to remain youthful, to deny his age.

Mourning what is lost by denying it is GONE, DONE, PASSED. Instead buying with wealth gained by corruption, an image of being younger than the real OLD of his age.

Nothing more foolish, than an woman who does the same. Equally foolish and destructive to all sorts of people, in the deception of self.

Except perhaps all the faithful people who look to the past of the church, deny the change of culture around us away from church participation, and expend great energy trying to recapture what is lost, past, or dying; instead of working to be what God makes us able to be today.

We deny one another’s stories, we’re too busy struggling as a congregation with each other’s untoward behaviours, anxious behaviours.

We miss out on the opportunities to work in the real world, from the real stories of each other’s lives. Like ostriches, we bury our heads in sand, unable to see the GOODness of creation. And we suffocate there, hiding from reality. God cannot nurture us there: no comforting, no nursing, no dandling on God’s knees.

God, through the prosperity of the City of God, the city of peace, nurtures, comforts, provides for us,

us who have returned home from exile,

us who have deserted home for better efforts elsewhere

us who, like the older son of the prodigal father, have remained, worked diligently at home, and are envious of the returnees given free grace, we receive grace even though we have come to rely on ourselves, our works, our merits … though they may be something, they’re nothing before God,

We all NEED God’s Grace.

God, through the prosperity of the City of God, the city of peace, nurtures, comforts, provides for ALL of us,

Just like a Mother provides for her infants.

This is love: God’s for us, our delight in God: we respond with singing for joy, with praise and adoration, with joy, even as we mourn the loss of the past.

The truth of love

God: in love with us, you, writes our/your name/s in heaven: the dream of all dreams, hopes, and life itself, fulfilled, for us and for God!

God claims, names, and commissions us, sends us

into the harvest: plentiful, with few workers:

What does that mean for us?

What are we going to do in response?

The work, the paddling, the water of life, the light.

Confused Paul in Galatians:

bear each other’s burdens, all must carry their own loads.

As we sin, each carried with gentleness by the rest of us.

As we work, each carry our own load, to provide necessities of life.

God comforts, nourishes, promises: But we still get to work like the dickens to make life good for ourselves and our community, and those in need.

God’s care does not supplant our own labours, rather God, enables our labours to be productive.

There is joy in diligent, hard, directed, purposeful labour. Labour is a necessity of life: air, water, food, clothing, shelter, purposeful labour, and love (giving and receiving).

As we work: remember God’s promise: most important

God promise:

our names are written in heaven.

More than our ability in Christ’s name to heal, to feed, to care for, to love others, to forgive, to be gentle with each other:

That God has acted, named us, written our names in heaven!

Wondrous miracles to see in this creation. Greater is God’s Grace which names us as God’s

Claimed, named, blessed, equipped. Nourished, comforted, carried,

But most of all LOVED for who we really are!

Names written not because of a fluke, not because of our work, not because of correct faith, not because of our hanging on to or letting go of our histories, but
Just because God wants it so, out of love for us.

The power of the heavens, where our names are written