|Pentecost 11, year A||August 24, 2014||Proper 16, Year A||Matthew 16:13-20|
|Pentecost 10, year A||August 17, 2014||Proper 15, Year A||Matthew 15:10-20, 21-28|
|Pentecost 9, year A||August 10, 2014||Proper 14, Year A||Matthew 14:22-33|
|Pentecost 8, year A||August 3, 2014||Pentecost 8, year A||Matthew 14:13-21|
|➤Pentecost 6, year A||July 20, 2014||Proper 11, Year A||Romans 8:12-25|
|Pentecost 7, year A||July 20, 2014||Proper 12, Year A||I Kings 3:5-12, Romans 8:26-39, Matthew 13:31-33|
|Pentecost 5, year A||July 13, 2014||Proper 10, Year A||Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23, Psalm 65:9-14|
|Genevieve Davis’ Funeral Homily||July 13, 2014||Burial of the Dead, Rite II||Isaiah 35:1-10, I John 4:7-8,11-12, John 14:1-3|
|Pentecost 4, year A||July 6, 2014||Proper 9, Year A||Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30|
|Pentecost 3, year A||June 29, 2014||3rd Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||Romans 6:12-23, Matthew 10:40-42|
|Pentecost 2, year A||June 22, 2014||Second Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 7, Year A||Psalm 69:8-20, Romans 6:1b-11, Matthew 10:24-39|
|Trinity Sunday, Year A||June 15, 2014||Trinity Sunday, Year A||Genesis 1:1-2:4a, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, Matthew 28:16-20|
|Pentecost, Year A||June 8, 2014||The Day of Pentecost, Year A||Acts 2:1-21, I Corinthians 12:3b-13, John 20:1-23|
|Easter 7, Ascension Sunday, year A||June 1, 2014||Seventh Sunday of Easter||Acts 1:6-14|
|Easter 6, year A||May 25, 2014||Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A 2014||Acts 17:22-31, John 14: 15-21|
Pentecost 6, year A
Sermon Date:July 20, 2014
Scripture: Romans 8:12-25
Liturgy Calendar: Proper 11, Year A
If you were here last week, then you may remember that I preached about a four letter word—DIRT.
This week’s sermon is also about a four letter word—HOPE.
People, hope is what’s happening! Hope is where it’s at!
And this isn’t any old hope—like “I hope the weather’s nice today,” or “I hope I win the lottery.”
The kind of hope I’m talking about is the kind of hope that God has!
Patient, persistent, and proactive hope.
In today’s lesson from Romans, Paul tells us that God has adopted us as God’s own sons and daughters. And for Paul, being a son or daughter of God means that, like the sons who received the blessing and inheritance of their fathers in Biblical times, we become the image of God, God’s heirs, and God’s agents in this world.
Now I don’t know about you, but for me, that is a scary thought. Because how could I ever live up to being God’s image, God’s heir and God’s agent in this world?
So that’s why God’s hope is an essential gift that comes with this adoption.
Along with our adoption as God’s sons and daughters, God gives us hope so that we can go out in the world and be agents of God’s transforming love.
Hope keeps us from falling into the fear of failure and simply giving up, returning to our old ways that can be death dealing to ourselves and others.
Hope keeps us from becoming jaded or cynical about this very counter-cultural way that God is giving us to live.
In fact, we inherit the kind of hope God has—patient hope and persistent hope that perseveres and even suffers in the face of what seems to be hopeless.
God has got to be full of hope.
Because really, don’t you think God must be discouraged by now?
That kind of discouragement that God had before the flood, the feeling that drastic measures might be in order to turn us around–
And yet, in the Old Testament, Noah and the Ark riding the waves in the flood are proof that ultimately, in spite of discouragement and the resulting flood, God just can’t quit hoping that everything will work out in the end, just as the life, death and resurrection of Jesus are proof in the New Testament that God still hasn’t given up, and still has hope for us.
Even though—having made creation good and having put us in charge, and given us chance after chance, God still has to witness the ongoing havoc we human beings continue to wreak on our environment, starting way back in Genesis when Adam and Eve longed to have God’s power, and so they disobeyed God and God sent them from the Garden of Eden. God said that as a result of their desire for power, even the ground became cursed.
We’d be here all day if I went through all the places in the Bible, especially the Old Testament, in which God makes clear that what happens to creation itself is directly related to how we human beings choose to live.
And right now, we all know how fast whole species are becoming extinct—The speed with which this is happening is something new—some estimates are that in only thirty years, in some of our lifetimes, one fifth of all current species will have become extinct, thanks to the actions of the human species.
No wonder Paul says that the whole creation is groaning in labor pains, waiting to be set free from its bondage to decay, brought on by our actions.
And what about the things human beings do to one another? For some examples, just look at any newspaper, any day of the week, generally filled with bad news about what someone has done to someone else.
Sometimes, it looks as if the weeds are winning, and the wheat will be completely choked out before the harvest even takes place.
But God is still, against all odds, and against our track record as human beings, patiently and persistently hoping that we will become God’s image and God’s agents in the world. And God can see the fulfillment and completion of creation, something we can’t yet see.
This is the kind of hope God gives us–
Hope for what we can’t yet see—God’s reign here among us, here on this earth–the kingdom of heaven that Jesus talked about over and over in his parables. Occasionally, as heirs of God, we catch glimpses of what the kingdom of heaven would look like in all its abundance and these glimpses, as blurry and as fleeting as they might be, encourage us.
Even small things like respecting one another’s differing opinions with a spirit of tolerance and respect give us a glimpse into the kingdom of heaven. Think about it. If everyone respected the dignity of every human being all the time,as we promise to do at our baptisms, ultimately, wars would cease.
When we live with the kind of hope God has, we don’t have to say, “Well, it’s a broken world, and so I need to respond to violence with violence in order to protect myself,” because that kind of hopelessness just perpetuates the old cycle of hatred and destruction that has kept human beings caught up in conflict since the beginning of time.
This hope we inherit is also the kind of proactive hope God has. God didn’t just wait for us to get it together and turn ourselves around.
God was proactive and sent Jesus to live and die as one of us, an act of scandalous generosity, a gift that Paul says made our adoption as God’s sons and daughters possible.
This gift of Jesus means that we are completely and deeply in debt—a debt we could never repay, but guess what, we can respond to our debt by living into who we are now as adopted sons and daughters, made in the image of God, and made heirs and agents of God on this earth. It’s our turn to live into this Godly proactive hope.
We can respond to our debt to God through the proactive philosophy commonly known as “pay it forward.”
Here’s how this philosophy, first written about in ancient Greece, works.
OK, so someone (in this case God) does something wonderful for us (in our case as Christians—the life, death and resurrection of Jesus) which we can’t possibly pay back, but instead, we pay the debt forward by doing something wonderful for someone else.
This philosophy has been around in our culture since its beginning (Ben Franklin practiced it) and more recently was made popular by the movie of that title, Pay it Forward, that came out in 2000.
Like God’s generous and proactive hope in us, paying it forward is an act of proactive hope on our parts as agents of God.
Because Jesus loved us first, then we want to go out and do something loving for others, no strings attached, and most of the time, we’ll never even know whether or not that act of paying God’s love forward even made a difference in another person’s life.
But maybe—just maybe– because of our actions, someone got a little vision of heaven on earth—God’s love bearing fruit in the world. And because we have patient and persistent hope, we can continue to do proactive acts of love for others, and for creation, even when the results remain invisible to us.
So let’s leave here today full of hope—the patient, persistent and proactive hope that gives us the courage to live toward what we can’t yet see or fully experience, God’s kingdom here on earth—God’s love so alive and growing in us that we just have to go out and spread that love wherever the Spirit takes us—
Full of hope.