The sermon is interspersed with snippets of music.
Jesus says We Cannot Interpret the Present
How is it that Jesus says we do not know how to interpret the present time?
We can forecast the weather so we know it will rain before the clouds appear on the horizon, and we know days before the wind starts it’ll be scorching hot or freezing cold. Can we really not interpret the present time?
Look, Jesus the Bringer of Peace?
We’ve looked to the stars, to see the number of descendants God promised Abraham and Sarah. We’ve looked to Jesus on the cross and heard that as we confess our sins and forgive others their sins Jesus forgives us. We’ve listened and heard that Jesus blesses peacemakers.
We have sung of Jesus bringing Peace Like a River, with it’s catchy melody.
Peace Like a River
God Does Not Come In Monochrome
Jesus Brings Conflict, Fire, The Hammer of God
Yet the lessons for today say, “Think again!” Jesus came not to bring peace, but instead division. Jesus came to bring God’s Word of fire. God’s word is a hammer that strikes the solid rock foundations of our lives and shatters them.
God’s Creation is no Monophony
God’s Word is so much more like Beethoven’s 5th. It comes down like a hammer in our hearts, pounding out any notion that what is to come might be whimsical or easy. God sends Jesus, the Word made flesh; and God means business.
Beethoven’s 5th opening ‘hammers’ and a phrases following
God Does Not Come In Monotone
Music Broad Enough to Communicate God’s Reality
Music moves our hearts stimulating in the same moment Joy, Grief and Hope in us. How better to make sense of the harsh reality of these lessons. Music, with the touch that harmonizes the spheres of the universe, heals us and sets us right with God’s people and creation: we thrive with music in our hearts. Like everything there is of course Music that serves to break down creation, as at Jericho, but we will leave that behind. But should we?
God’s Creation is no Monodrama
Conflict In and Between Us
Jesus says he comes not to bring peace, but division and conflict. God means business, sending Jesus, who is as powerful as the Word that created the universe, which separated the Light from the Darkness.
We must respond. If we respond with faith, our lives are forever changed. If we respond with disbelief, then our lives take another path. Even with faith created in us we still remain sinners who do not believe. Jesus brings conflict within each of us. Since Luke’s time the Gospel has divided also families. Often in history if one believed, one would be persecuted and killed. Those of us who believe end up in conflict with those who do not.
God Does have a Monopoly on Loving Us ALL
Belief was expensive. Faith still is as Jesus’ Love Catches Us.
Belief was expensive among Luke’s readers. When Jesus creates faith in us it still is.
Most music we know is not about our lives. We just get caught up in the rhythm and dance our hearts out. ABBA’s Ma Ma Mia is such a piece. Then Jesus comes, catches us, and suddenly we are not merely dancing to the music. The music is our lives. We are caught by Love, Jesus’ love, and getting away is impossible … even though we know there are consequences for letting this love reach us … yet again.
Ma Ma Mia
God Did Not Create Us as Mono-mimetic
God Yearns that We Remember God’s Name
God yearns for us, just as God yearned for the false prophets to give up on spreading their own dreams and deceptions as if they were God’s Word. God yearns because these false dreams and deceptions capture our hearts and minds and cause us to forget God’s name. What a terrible thing to suffer. To forget God’s name. To not even know one’s own creator, redeemer, and guide to an abundant life.
It is like going to a classical concert without knowing what is on the program and after a warm up to Mozart, being agitated, gurgitated and served up on a platter of confusion by Hindemith’s [/Bartók’s] atonal music.
Hindemith or Bartók
God is more than Polyphiloprogenitive, God is Poly-All
God fills the universe
Can we find God in that music? According to Jeremiah God is not far off, nor only near. God fills the entire universe; and yet we forget God’s name because we listen to tempting, false words.
Then God sends someone to remind us that without God Our Blue Eyes are Crying in the Rain, and we know that we’ve deserted love and left our hearts as empty as a Monday Morning Church.
Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain OR Monday Morning Church
God’s People are Polychromatic, Polyphonic, Polyrhythmic, Poly- of ALL Kinds
The Faithful Cloud
Yet God has not deserted us. We have a great cloud of witnesses that tell us otherwise: From the Red Sea, to Jericho, to Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and to the prophets God has made great things happen. But not all God’s people were brought success or honour.
Many of God’s faithful die after they suffer shame, having lived destitute, persecuted and tormented, wandering homeless the deserts and mountains, living in caves and holes in the ground.
Doch, God provides for them all a better end, to live with us, in faith.
This great cloud of witnesses to God’s Word, accompanies us each day, as we persevere in the race put before us. Ours is not a race of our choosing. God puts this race before us, and race we must.
God’s People are Poly-therapeutic
Story: Movie The Last Face: Living the life God gives us: for others
In the movie The Last Face, two doctors work in Liberia and Sierra Leone’s conflicts. Wren is an idealist, fundraiser and organizer. Migel is an orphan, a realist, working on the front lines.
Caught on the front lines with him, Wren falls in love with Migel and it changes them forever, as love is wont to do. Then she has to choose which one of six people will be given the last of their blood supply. The other five will die. When they have to leave all six of them to die as the conflict arrives the next day at their makeshift hospital, Wren loses her nerve. It is impossible to make any difference. She questions why they are there anyway. Why do these people have to live like this!
Migel lives beyond hopelessness to fully trusting not that he can make the whole situation change, but that he can in one area if only temporarily, one day at a time, one patient at a time, do what he is able as a doctor.
Wren protests the senselessness of helping people who will die just days later in the conflict anyway. He responds: these people are given this life to live. Yes, I can leave, fly out to a city with safety and hot showers and a good bed. They cannot. I cannot change the life they are given, but I can give them what I have to give.
God’s People are Poly-Resilient
Sometimes the race that God puts us into is so profoundly hopeless that we get caught up in the blues, depression, or even life-threatening hopelessness. For we see the circle of life that does not change for the better for so many of God’s own people.
Even then we know that if we put our blues to song, and we sing them out, they become our prayers, and by grace they lose their grip on us.
Song Sung Blue
God’s Race for Us is not Monotonous
Challenges: the race
As we struggle to meet the challenges of each day God’s powerful Word accompanies us, not to make it easy for us, but to buck us up to do the hard work in the race put before us.
Movie The Forgiven
Remembered in so many ways, including in the movie Forgiven, Bishop Desmond Tutu struggled against so many detractors who threatened to sink the Truth and Reconciliation Commission because it would expose the atrocities they had contributed to. Tutu meets these challenges, not easily but with Grace, determination, joy, love, condemnation and hope.
People had killed people. People revenged the killings. People revenged the killings revenging killings. And on it would continue, if kept in secret, forever. But brought out into the open it gave people the opportunity to forgive!
Forgiveness is God’s Music
With forgiveness, which made S.A.’s future as a united country possible, we experience the long lead up to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony’s resolution in the Ode to Joy Chorus, ringing across the stars and back into the depths of our hearts. Here we experience the power of Grace, of Love, of Joy, mixed with struggle, loss, and grief until it comes out in us as Hope.
Beethoven’s 9th lead up to Ode to Joy
God Created the Universe from Chaos, Making Harmonies: from Galaxies to Atoms, from the Circle of Life to Emotions and Beauty.
God Offers us Polyphonic Lives in Harmony with God’s Universe
How to interpret the present time?
How can we possibly interpret the present time? Only when we realize that God is here for us, can we see clearly that just as the south wind brings scorching heat and the north wind brings bleeping freezing Cold, so God brings rainbows of challenges each and every day in the race set before us just so that we can practice meeting everyone with Forgiveness and Grace.
Then we can move from Misery to Happiness, giving God thanks for everything with the music that brings us into harmony with God’s Good Creation. So we sing: “Now Thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices”