A powerful, thought-provoking insight....

Give me a well-trained tongue that has been borne out of silent listening in the sanctuary of my heart.

~ sevensacredpauses by Macrina Wiederkehr

Monday, October 24, 2011

What a Gift! God's Love as Work!
Sermon for Vespers at Clairmont Oaks Retirement Residence
October 23, 2011
Rev. Daphne C. Reiley

Our Work is God's Love; we are to be it, do it, share it…
until God takes us home to rest!

Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17:
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You turn us back to dust, and say, "Turn back, you mortals."
For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night.
You sweep them away; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning; in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.

. . .

Turn, O Lord! How Long?  Have compassion on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad as many days as you have afflicted us, and as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be manifest to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands—O prosper the work of our hands!

We grow, we work, we flourish, we fade and wither. 

How long that takes is our lifetime—is the lifetime God has gifted us.

Where do you see yourself along that path?  Are you still growing and flourishing?  Yes, I know…when you get to be of a "certain age" it is easy to believe you aren't growing, much less flourishing, any more. 

Well, I'm here to tell you that you are growing, you are flourishing.  The sheer fact that you are present here, for worship, for fellowship, to share joys and concerns, to praise God…you are growing and flourishing. 

As ongoing creations of God, our Spirits need nurture.  We are renewed "each morning" as we give ourselves into God's care.  With the gift of each day, we are encouraged to grow closer to God; flourishing in lives lived faithfully.

Part of flourishing is working.  It is through working that we learn, it is through working that we move closer to God.

But…what is our work?

Listen for the Word of God in our text from Deuteronomy 34:1-12:

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the Lord showed him the whole land: …The Lord said to him, "This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendants'; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there."  Then Moses, the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord's command.    Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated.  The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended.  Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the Lord had commanded Moses. 

Moses…120 years old!

We know Moses' work began in Egypt and ended in the desert. 
          Moses left quite a legacy, inspiring the whole people of God. 

We see in our text that Moses' Work started in Egypt, eventually bringing the Israelites out of Egypt and into the desert.  Moses then guided them spiritually and physically through the deserts of their lives.  Teaching, prodding, reproving, celebrating the many life-changing events that happened, and grieving a multitude of losses. 

If we look at the Work Moses accomplished, through the gifts God bestowed upon him, we see that Moses became an instrument of God's Love, advocating for the People of Israel, even to experiencing God face to face! 

Moses understood his obligation to share God's vision for Israel.  In response to that aspect of his Work, he consecrated Joshua son of Nun as his successor.  He shared with Joshua the "spirit of wisdom" which God had given him; Moses also shared his vision of Israel, of the promised land which God had entrusted to him.

Moses shared his experience of the Love of God.

Hear now what Paul shares in his first letter to the Thessalonians, 2:1-8:

… we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition.  For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. … So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.

It takes courage to be an instrument of God's Love in the world.  It takes courage to share the Love of God, the Good News…courage which is a gift from God. 

It takes courage to share our vision for the World we will leave behind. 

Paul relates that they want to share not only the Gospel but also themselves.   Paul, Silas, and Timothy have so much to offer the Thessalonians in terms of experience, of spiritual guidance, of the love of Christ!

You too have so much to offer!
          God has entrusted us with this message.
                    We are consecrated for this Work at our baptism! 
                            Dare we refuse to take up our Work or put it down prematurely?

We  have been given such a wondrous gift: our lives, our journeys—those all belong to God.  How are we using them? 

Whether we are 20, 50, or 90—there are ways in which we can offer our experience of the Love of God, the Good News to others we encounter. 

Human history is an oral history.  We love telling our stories.   Telling Christ's story is our blessing and our legacy to the Church's descendants.

In Matthew, we hear the words of Jesus himself, 22:34-40:

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.  "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"  He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all your minds.' This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

We know our Work!  We are called to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind and our neighbors as ourselves.  Yes!

Is this not what we see in Deuteronomy with Moses?
          Moses is drawn into and through a desert by his love of God.
                   A love of God which he has shared with the Israelites.

 Is this not what we hear from Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians?
         "So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us."

We know our neighbors.
      We have our own stories of the Love of God;.
           We know what our Work is set to be.

How then do we show that we love God?

We demonstrate to the world,
                   that God loves us,  and
                              that through Jesus Christ, God has redeemed us all—

It is that very profound Love of God which inspires us to be, do, and share our story. 

It is the profound Love of God which is the story we are to share,
          to prepare others to carry forward our dream,
                   the vision of the Kingdom of God entrusted to us by God.

What a work!  What a story!  What a vision!


No comments: