Order of Worship for this Sermon: Bulletin-11-13-2022 YC P28
Scriptures: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13; Luke 21:5-19
Let us pray:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts help guide our actions to be Spirit-led in the world, O Holy One; for Jesus’ sake, Amen.
Every year I try to take an Autumn walk while the wind whips leaves off the trees, sending them like so many colored messages on crisp breezes to whomever can catch them. Every year I try to catch some before they ever hit the ground. Many times, the leaves swirl around me as I reach to grasp only to have them slip out of my hands to be carried further away.
An apt metaphor, is it not? Sometimes when we reach for something, even trying our best, we simply cannot get quite far fast enough, clearly enough. It takes time. I find it true with people, careers, relationships, parenting; hopes and dreams from every sphere of life. When those times come and our hopes and dreams slip away like falling leaves, what can we do? What kinds of responses do we make?
Sometimes at those moments the response may be rage and anger at the goal just out of reach, or feelings of injustice as the wrong candidate gets into office, or yet another attempt to negotiate a benefit fails. Sometimes, an alternate response might be a heightened period of creativity fueled by funneling our energies in positive ways. Other times, we may wax philosophical and realize this is but one moment in a time of stretching and growing, learning and yearning; leading us through a period of rest knowing that eventually, we can try again to reach that which is set before us to learn. At least this is true for me.
The same can also be true of our lives of faith. One question that seems appropriate at this juncture might be: What happens when life in the public sphere crosses over to tough times – does our life of faith have a way to fuel our response, acting in positive ways, or do we languish while we “wait for it to get better?”
Whether you are happy or unhappy with last Tuesday’s election results, perhaps we can be encouraged with these words from the Desiderata:
“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others… Nurture strength of spirit to shield you… do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars… whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive [God] to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world…”
I like to pair inspiration with practical. From today’s lectionary in 2nd Thessalonians: First, go about your work diligently. It might look like industry, teaching, volunteerism, enjoying your retirement, celebrating long-term friendships and making new ones. Be there for your family. Continue to dedicate yourself to spiritual enrichment by going to church, reading the Bible as well as other uplifting and challenging texts to keep your mind sharp; after all, we need sharp minds in the time to come.
A second nugget from today’s text is this: do not weary of doing what is right. What is doing right? For those of us who take discipleship seriously, striving to live our lives in the footsteps of Jesus by definition leads us down the path of a higher standard; especially when the going gets tough – perhaps, like me, for some of you that is now – when we may be facing a difficult time ahead.
I urge you to exceed the challenge of living by example what it means to be children of the Light. Living a higher standard by example includes embracing the teachings we have from Jesus and his Judaism that echo across the hearts of several major religions; teachings such as: “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” (Luke 6:31) “Love your neighbor as yourself,” (Leviticus 19:18) and perhaps my personal favorites: “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God,” (Micah 6:8) and its New Testament echo: “Live well, live wisely, live humbly, it’s the way you live, not the way you talk that counts” (paraphrasing James 3:13 in Eugene Peterson’s The Message).
When challenges rise up (and they always do), what will your response be? Thinking ahead a couple weeks when we enter into Advent, for me, I will strive to live by example, to reflect the True Light that is coming into the world. Maybe, if I can possibly walk humbly enough, point heavenward enough, others may take note of it and ask what is it about me, and maybe, if I am brave enough, I will point out the way of everlasting, the higher standard by which I strive to live my life and from whom this inspiration comes. In the end, I hope at least that I am able to somewhat reflect the love of God; and pray for each of us as to live into being God’s authentic witnesses in the world.
May all glory be unto the One who lived and died and rose again for us, even Him who is the Christ. Amen?
 Excerpts from the Desiderata – Max Ehrmann ©1952?