Monday, March 29, 2010

Those God Moments

“I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
Have you ever had something that happened in your life that made you overjoyed?
Have you ever had something happen made it impossible for you to be quiet?
Something that brought so much joy, pleasure, and happiness to you that you were overcome and you told everyone you knew who would listen.
This is what happens to Jesus’ disciples as he rides into Jerusalem.
For the three years of Jesus ministry they had been waiting for this moment.
They had heard Jesus talk about the kingdom of God.
They had seen Jesus heal the sick, give sight to the blind, make the lame walk, and preach good news to the poor.
They had seen Jesus challenge the religious and political powers of his day.
And what they were expecting was revolution.
This moment was their way of announcing that Jesus had come to do what they were expecting of him.
They are overjoyed.
And they have to yell out.
Blessed is the king who comes in the Lord!!!
Jesus comes to bring peace and glory!
Jesus himself seems happy to participate in the festivities.
This morning is a happy moment.
And all they can do is shout to the heavens in thanksgiving!
In fact, Jesus tells the Pharisees who want the disciples to keep it down that even if they were to be quiet the stones would shout out.

I have had this happen to me in my life times when I felt God’s presence so closely that I had to say something.
I had to yell and tell the world.
The day my kids were born.
The day I graduated from college.
The days that I helped a fourth grade kid pass his spelling test.
The day of my ordination.
The day of my installation as your pastor.
The times when I fed homeless people in downtown Philadelphia.
The day I followed a man on to the street who had been kicked out of church for not wearing a shirt, and made sure he knew that God loved him, and he was welcomed in church.
The day of my confirmation.
How about every Sunday when we are together?
I could go on and on..
But how about you?
What are your God moments when you feel the Holy Spirit so strongly that you know the kingdom has come to earth.
Have you had times when all of creation shouts with the joys of God?

How about a really sunny day when it is about 75 degrees, and you have a nice steak on the grille, some friends or family are over you are sitting there taking in the sun and enjoying one another’s company.
That is a day to give thanks to God.
It is a day that all of creation reminds you of God’s love for you.

I was thinking about how important it is for us to recognize these times in our lives.
How important it is for us as people of faith to be able to see and understand when God is telling us everything is all right.
Because we all know about the times when everything does not feel all right.
We all know when it is hard to see God.
It is not that God is not in those moments too.
It is just that we need to be able to know when God is telling us that everything is fine, so that we can handle those other moments.

Soon Jesus’ disciples will experience the horror of his crucifixion.
Soon the shouts of peace and glory will turn to shouts of “crucify him”.
So it is important at this moment to pause and to say all is well everything is as it should be.
This is what we hoped and longed for, this is what makes everything else worth it.
Can we even see Easter morning without Palm Sunday?
Palm Sunday helps us to see what we expect to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
What the disciples are overjoyed about is the feeling that through Jesus they experience God.
They have experienced the kingdom of God on earth.

That is what happens to us.
We experience in Jesus Christ God in our lives.
We are able to say this is what it feels like to be with and near God.
And then in the darker moments we are able to see through them to the bright vision of our expectations of what Jesus does for us and the world.

While I was working in a school in Dorchester, MA I was responsible for helping this one kid learn his spelling words for the week.
We would go out in the hall and practice, then he would go home, and the next day he would take the test.
For most of the school year even with my help he failed.
His home life was not good.
I would always say, “Can’t someone at home help you with this?”
He would always tell me no.
Anyway, one day for some unknown reason he passed his test.
That day he passed his test was one of the great days of my life.
It was as if I had passed the test myself.
I don’t take any credit for it.
I saw it as a sign of the kingdom of God.
That some things do work out.
That people can help others.
That we can triumph over adversity.
That there is some justice in the universe.

What we celebrate this morning is the triumph of Jesus ministry.
Not its full completion.
But what Jesus was able to do up to this point.
Jesus disciples had learned what it was to be part of the kingdom of God.
That it was about serving others, about justice, about love, about caring.
And now they were ushering in Jesus to Jerusalem into the center of religious and political life.
Maybe they did not fully understand what it all meant.
But they knew they could not keep it quiet.
They knew that is was good.

Perhaps all of us would benefit from not keeping our God moments to ourselves.
I am always impressed with people who are able in the moment to be able to see God and give thanks for all God has done.

Last weekend I went to a workshop in Hartford given by Church World Service because I am going to be the co-chair of the Concord Crop Walk this fall.
This older couple from Guilford, CT gave a talk about all the places that they have traveled in the world where they had seen the way that Church World Service uses the money they make at their CROP walk they have run for the last 15 years.
They showed us slides of all these people whose lives had been changed because Church World Service was able to bring water to their villages.
People from some of the poorest places in the world now have hope because of the work of people like this old couple.
Their joy in what they had seen and the work they had done was evident.
They were able to see God at work through the CROP walk and Church World Service.

Being able to see God in the people and things around us is vital to being able to share our faith with others.
It is vital to being able to thank and praise God for his goodness to us every day.
It is vital to the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But even if we don’t the rocks and stones will.
Even if we forget how good God is others around us sometimes remind us, like an older couple witnessing to the work of God, or like the fourth grader who finally passes his math test.
Or like the Sun that beats down on us and reminds us of God’s love.
Or the rain that brings life to the earth.
Or the trees that keep us breathing.
Or the rocks that build our churches and houses.
Yes, blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven.
Thanks be to God who gives us every good blessing, and who brings us peace and glory to our lives.
Let us go forth and shout with the rocks and the stones for all the good God is doing in our lives.

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