This Easter Day sermon picks up from the Good Friday one. One of Good Friday’s ponderings was on the Cry of Dereliction – “My God, Why have you forsaken me?” We probably all hear that in a certain way. This sermon attempts to point out the history of why we do, and why that history is wrong. Easter is the answer to the challenge of that cry. Easter is the eschatological inbreaking of the Kingdom, the first day of the new creation. This sermon proclaims what that means and what it asks of us.
…Because Jesus entered into this groaning and futile mess. It easily could all be meaningless. But He said no. I’m going to claim it. I’m going to redeem it. Jesus felt and experienced the full futility. Disciples who didn’t get it. Kinsmen who rejected him. Fellow Jews who put him on trial. Cowardly justice that executed him. A peasant, on a cross, outside the walls of Jerusalem. My God, why have you forsaken me…for hope.
In the darkest places…a light shines.
The Spirit raised him from the dead, and elevated him to the right had of the Father. When he was gone, at his weakest, the Spirit acted with power…
You can reason your way to futility and meaninglessness. In fact, along with Ecclesiastes, I’d say that is the end point of most reason. But it is never satisfying. It feels like a lie. Not a lie you are telling yourself as the militant atheists would say. It feels like a lie against the universe, a blaspheming of the Spirit. Because there are these things that reason can’t explain that stand out like beacons against the general futility of life. The whole, “but this is the causal chain that led to those things”, doesn’t really have explanatory power to explain the birth of a child. And so I reckon that the present sufferings are not worth comparing the the glory that will be revealed to and in us.
The sermon text was Luke 18:1-8, but if you want the very important context you need to read Luke 17:20 – 18:8.
The Pharisees ask when. When is the Kingdom coming? The disciples ask where literally, but are really asking who, who is in the kingdom? Jesus responds now and you. The kingdom is within you. (Luke 17:21) The real question is how. How does that one to whom the Kingdom has come act? They act like this widow.
This widow is under an unrighteous judge. She has no reason to expect justice, but still she pursues it. We as residents of the kingdom in this unrighteous world have no reason to expect justice here and now, but still we work for it. We work for it here, because we know the perfect is coming.
This sermon was a little longer, and I’m pretty sure that reading it isn’t the same as hearing it. My proof reader, my sainted mother, thought it was nuts. She just didn’t get it. Then I preached it over the phone. And she liked it much better. A reminder that the Word of God is primarily oral. The Word comes by hearing. It also makes a difference that we as a congregation had a baptism. Reading this you would not see or be part of that. And Baptism is an important visible sign of the kingdom and part of the How answer.
A quick note – I’ve been a slacker about writing most of this summer. It has been a summer full – full of joys and of sorrows. I intend to get back to a 3 – 4 day a week cycle God willing.
Text: Mark 13:28-37
Maybe it is a psychological thing, my good daughter Anna has returned to school and candy corn is appearing in the store aisles, but today felt like autumn. The sun felt that much less intense on the forearm. The air felt crisper than the summer fullness. We pick up those signs. The longer we live on this earth, if we are perceptive, the more we just know what is coming.
Jesus is telling the disciples something that they will know and something that they won’t in the gospel reading for today. The first part most scholars think is talking about 70AD, the distruction of Jerusalem. Jesus is telling them to be observant, learn from the fig, you can tell when the seasons are changing, so when you see these things the end of the temple is near. While that will seem like the end of the world, it won’t be. That time, when Heaven and Earth will really pass away, you won’t know. You know what? The command is still watch. We watch and we can discern when an older order of things is passing away, when the temples of the world are being judged and torn down – a small letter day of the Lord. That watching is preparation for the capital letter Day of the Lord so that we might be found awake and faithful on that great and glorious day.