Pentecost 12, Aug. 27, 2017

Title:Pentecost 12, Aug. 27, 2017

 Sunday, August 27, 2017, Pentecost 12 (full size gallery)

The dominent event of the week was the solar eclipse. The rain allowed enough time to see it if you had the right glasses. Even if you didn’t the patterns of the sun through leaves produced scallop shape pattern on sidewalks that were unique. The slideshow shows the pattern in Fredericksbug and Clinch River, TN. The eclipse played a major role in the sermon.

We are reminded of Psalm 8 with this event: "When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?"

We had 11 at 9am and 26 at 11am. It was good to see Mike Newman back from Colorado. This Sunday was a brief introduction to the Season of Creation, an alternative liturgy cycle, that begins next week for 5 weeks. 

Today’s readings focus on the core of the faith upon which we build our Christian community—Jesus as Christ and Son of God. Isaiah invites the people to look back to God’s call and to look forward with joy to God’s great work of final justice. Paul’s teaching about God’s great plan of salvation invites a radical transformation of mind and body in conformity with God’s will. They have all received different gifts from God, which are to be used for the various ministries they do. Underlying all these is love, as the next section will show. In the gospel, Peter finally recognizes Jesus’ true identity: “the Messiah, Son of the living God.”

Excerpts from the sermon.

“As most of you know, last Sunday I was on the road, making what felt like an epic journey to see the total eclipse of the sun.   After hours and hours of driving, and a night spent with the three of us stuffed like sardines on an air mattress in the back of the van at a rest stop somewhere in the mountains of Tennessee, at last we arrived at a cloudless destination—Kingston, Tennessee, a small town on the banks of the Clinch River.  As we drove through town, the local Methodist church sign asked —“What is eclipsing your view of the Son?” My first reaction to this sign was amusement at its clever play on words. But the question stuck with me on the long journey home and on into this week

“During a total eclipse, the moon, much smaller than the sun, actually blocks the sun from sight, leaving only the corona visible, so when we looked up into the sky at the sun during totality, we saw what looked like a black hole in the sky with a corona of light around it to mark the spot where the sun was hidden. The sun literally disappeared for over two minutes, its view blocked by an object much smaller than itself.   And isn’t that life? How often do we let the smaller things in life totally block our ability to see what’s really important? 

“Getting off track in our relationships with one another is always a possibility— the temptation to give in to annoyance with the people we love over the little stuff so often that annoyance rather than love becomes the norm in that relationship— with the result that eventually, our ability to love that person or to receive love from that person becomes totally blocked. Another thing that easily eclipses our view of the Son these days is the current political climate.  

“The sermon presented a litmus test – “Ask yourself—is what I’m feeling about an issue making me resent or even downright hate the people on the “other” side to the exclusion of recognizing that God also loves the people on the other side of the issue just as much as God loves me?    Is what I’m feeling about an issue making me want to engage in violence and with hatred in my heart against others?   Am I forgetting that I can still respect the dignity of every human being, even those with whom I disagree?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then the issue that I feel so passionate about may be becoming an idol that is blocking my view of God.”

“In today’s gospel, Peter answers in response to Jesus question “who he was”, Peter responds, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” At this moment, nothing is eclipsing Peter’s view of the Son.  He sees clearly who Jesus is, and states it for all to hear.

“We are all Peter.  Every time we look at Jesus and say yes, Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of the Living God, Jesus puts the keys of the kingdom of heaven into our hands. The sacrificial life, death and resurrection of Jesus is the doorway through which we can enter into this very kingdom of heaven, right now, even as we wait for God’s salvation and deliverance to be completely realized when time is completed at the end of time.  And with the keys to the kingdom in hand, what we hopefully will bind on earth as it is in heaven is love—God’s love.   

“The writer of Colossians reminds us, that as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, we are the ones in this world who have the privilege to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  We are the ones who get to be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, to forgive each other as the Lord forgives us. 

“The idols of this world will pass away.   But God’s love never ends and the Son will always shine with everlasting light.     As the prophet of Isaiah said, even now, in the waste places of our lives, new life springs forth.   The Lord will comfort us and will make the wildernesses in which we wonder like the safety and richness of Eden itself. The dry places in our lives will become a garden of the Lord, and joy and gladness will be found there, thanksgiving and the voice of song. Through God’s grace, may we, along with Peter, see and witness– “You, Jesus, are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”  God, renew our minds, and restore to us the joy of your salvation.   And help us to let nothing eclipse our view of your Son."

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