|Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||February 16, 2020||Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Sirach 15:15-20; I Corinthians 3:1-9, I Corinthians 13: 11-12; Matthew 5:21-37; Psalm 119:1-8|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||February 9, 2020||Epiphany 5, Year A||Isaiah 58:1-9a, [9b-12];Matthew 5:13-20|
|The Presentation||February 2, 2020||Presentation of Jesus in the Temple||Luke 2:22-40|
|Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||January 26, 2020||Third Sunday after the Epiphany||Matthew 4: 12-23, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18|
|Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Congregational Meeting||January 19, 2020||Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A, Congregational Meeting||Isaiah 49:1-7; John 1:29-42|
|First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||January 12, 2020||First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 3:13-17|
|Epiphany, Year A||January 6, 2020||The Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 2:1-12|
|Christmas 2, Year A||January 5, 2020||Christmas II, Year A||Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23; Ephesians 1:3-6,15-19a; Psalm 84|
|Christmas Eve, Year A||December 24, 2019||The Eve of the Nativity||Luke 2:14|
|Advent 3, Year A||December 15, 2019||Advent 3, Year A||Isaiah 35:1-10|
|Advent 2, Year A – the Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||December 8, 2019||Advent 2, Year A||Matthew 3:1-12|
|Advent 1, Year A||December 1, 2019||First Sunday of Advent, Year A||Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44|
|Last Pentecost, Year C||November 24, 2019||Last Pentecost, Christ the King||Luke 23:33-43|
|Pentecost 23, Year C||November 17, 2019||Pentecost 23, Year C, Proper 28||Luke 21:5-19|
|Pentecost 22, Year C||November 10, 2019||Pentecost 22, Proper 27, Year C||Job 19:23-27a, Luke 20:38|
Pentecost 7, Year C
Sermon Date:July 28, 2019
Scripture: Luke 11:1-13, Psalm 138
Liturgy Calendar: Proper 12, Year C
“Ask and it will be given you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you.”
We have lots of locked doors in our lives. We lock our doors to protect ourselves and our possessions.
And as we grow older, we start locking the doors of our hearts too.
Sometimes we lock the doors of our hearts to keep out the people who have hurt us.
Sometimes we even lock the doors of our hearts against God, out of anger or despair, or a feeling that God didn’t hear our prayers when we prayed.
So when Jesus taught us the words of the Lords’ prayer, he gave us a set of keys to use to unlock those closed up stuffy places in our hearts.
So let’s take a look at this set of five keys in the Lord’s Prayer and see what doors they will unlock for us.
Key Number One—God’s Love.
When we pray, “Father, hallowed be your name,” we have a key to the door of the places in our hearts where we have locked out God’s love.
When we stand before this door of God’s love and unlock it and go in, it’s as if we’ve entered a whole universe of love that has been waiting there for us all along. Prayer gives us the courage to enter the space and to explore God’s love for us, and the farther we go into this space of God’s love, the more expansive the space becomes, until we realize that we can never come to the end of God’s love, but that the more we search, the more we will find.
Key Number Two—Hope.
We have locked up a great deal of our hearts to hope. When we find ourselves saying, “Whatever,” “That’s just the way it is,” or “I can’t do anything about that so I’m going to ignore it,” or my mother’s favorite, said in either a discouraged or horrified voice, “This world is falling apart!” we have opened ourselves up to despair, by locking out hope.
When we pray these words, “Your kingdom come,” we unlock the door of Hope. When we work up the courage to enter that space of hope, we remember all that God has promised about God’s kingdom becoming a reality here on earth.
Suddenly, we see what we couldn’t see before, like Abraham, who looked up into the sky and saw in the millions of stars the promise of God about his descendants, who would become a great and mighty nation through which all nations would be blessed. And so Abraham set out, not knowing where he was going, because he was full of hope that God would fulfill the promise.
When we enter through the unlocked door into Hope, we see, in the midst of the reality of life around us, with its violence and discord and disorder, the heavenly city described in the book of Revelation coming down out of heaven, a city with God at the center, with the river of life giving water flowing through the center of the city, lined with the fruit trees with their leaves for the healing of the nations.
We can imagine this world where children have enough to eat and clean water to drink, where people have safe places to live and meaningful work to do, where walls that separate are unnecessary, where prisons are unnecessary because violence has ended, and where everyone works for and desires the common good for everyone else, a world where people value God’s creation rather than to exploit it for their own gain.
If we unlock the door to the hope that is waiting in our hearts, we can see that already this heavenly way of living is becoming a reality,
and that the dirt or the asphalt that we trudge along sparkles with the golden flecks that will someday turn to those streets of pure gold that we’ve heard described in the book of Revelation. We can’t help but rejoice and walk with a hopeful spring in our steps. When we live in hope, we know that God will keep God’s promises and God’s kingdom will once more be realized on this earth, full of life, light, and brilliance.
Key Number Three—Dependence
When we pray, “Give us each day our daily bread,” we unlock the door to remembering our dependence on God. People who live from day to day, like people I met last summer in Guatemala, literally live each day hoping to make enough money to buy the food they need to eat that night. Daily bread is just that—bread for that day only.
We treasure our independence, our delusion that we have all we have sheerly through our own efforts, our own power, or our own abilities and that we can store up all we need to last our lifetimes so that we won’t become dependent on anyone else, even in our old age.
But when we remember to unlock the door to our dependence on God, we enter a place of power far beyond the slight power of our own independence. God fills us with a power we cannot have on our own, summed up in that verse from Ephesians that I love so much, “Glory to God, whose power working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or even imagine.”
Key Number Four—Love your Neighbor
When we pray “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us,” we unlock the doors to the spaces in our hearts where we hold grudges, where we ignore those in need or worse yet, blame their need on them. This space of unforgiveness can fill up in a hurry as people annoy us, hurt us, take from us—we tend to just shove them all in this space of unforgiveness and throw away the key!
But Jesus gives us the key to open that locked door and to release all that we’ve crammed in, to forgive, and to clear out that space so that God’s love can come pouring in, freeing us to love instead of to resent or hate or ignore our neighbor.
Key Number Five—Trust
When we pray, “Do not bring us to the time of trial,” we unlock the door that opens into trust for God, the God we love, the God who gives us hope, the God we depend on, the God who gives us the ability to forgive. Along with the psalmist who wrote today’s psalm, we trust God to protect us, to increase our strength, to keep us safe in the midst of trouble. We trust that God is with us, and that God will never abandon us, even in sickness and in death.
When we unlock the door to trust in God, the door we may have slammed shut years ago when we went through a time of trial and forgot that God was there, in this space of trust we now remember—God is with us, especially in our troubles and distress.
God, help us to remember that you are with us, even when we are going through the trials and temptations of this life.
We’ve examined all the keys on this key ring.
Father, hallowed be your name. God’s love.
Your kingdom come. Hope.
Give us each day our daily bread. Dependence.
And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. Love your neighbor.
And do not bring us to the time of trial. Trust.
God gives us keys to help us open the doors we have locked.
And prayer is that key which unlocks our hearts to God.