Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Gift of Family!

Often times I feel that the Holy Spirit is really just leading me to preach on certain things.
Today is a perfect example.
Our text for this morning is about marriage and children.
This weekend I spent most of my time on these two subjects.
I had the pleasure of presiding at the wedding of Elizabeth and Travis White.
And this morning we all have the honor and joy at being at the baptism of Taylor and Lesley White.
This morning our worship is about celebrating the gift of family.
The gift of two people who find each other, fall in love, and make vows before God and their loved ones to spend the rest of their lives together.
We celebrate as a community the joy we feel when one of God’s little ones, when one of his precious ones comes to the font to receive the gifts of mercy and love.
I have a theory that no one can be unhappy at worship on the day there is a baptism.
The moment is just too precious and wonderful.

In the marriage ceremony in our hymnal we say these words, “Because of sin, our age old rebellion, the gladness of marriage can be overcast, and the gift of family can become a burden.”
This is true.
The joy that we experience on our wedding day, the wonder and amazement that we celebrate today tends to fade.
We lose the blessing of things as life and its demands creep in.
We forget to tell our partners that they look nice and beautiful.
We forget to hold hands.
We forget that our children were given to us by God.
I know that on many occasions when my kids are not behaving properly I think about giving them back or away.
I am sure that my wife often thinks the same thing about me.

What are we to do?
How can we keep up our joy in knowing each other?
How do we continue to see the gift and blessing of our relationships?

I always aware when this text about marriage comes up for preaching of the wide variety of experiences people have had with marriage.
I am aware that there are people in our congregation that are divorced, that have never been married, that want to be married but are not, that have lost someone they love, that have been married for eighty years.
I think it is important to name all those things.
And it is important to say that not one of us is in a position to judge.
All of us fall short of the ideal.
All of us at some time or another have overlooked the gifts that God has given us.
I am married and plan to be married until I die, but that does not mean that I am always thrilled about it.
I do forget to see the gift and blessing.
So this morning there is no judgment from me.
I am in no position to judge someone else.
But I hope we all can search our own hearts, and that together we are able to offer words of repentance for the times when we are not our best in our marriages.
And not just in marriage but in all your close intimate relationships.

Judgment is often what we hear when we read these words of Jesus.
And this text is often used by some Christians to condemn others for not living up to an ideal.
But perhaps this morning we can see the more positive side of what Jesus is trying to say.
The argument Jesus is having with the religious leaders is about the intention of marriage.
What was it that God intended for us in our marriages.
If we go back to Genesis, to creation, what we see is that Adam was alone.
God realized that humans are not meant to be alone.
We are meant to live in community.
We are meant to be with other people.
God gave us each other for our joy and pleasure.
Again this is not so much about the institution of marriage, which was what the religious people were arguing about, as it is about God’s intention for us.
Out of love, as a gift, God gave us each other.

So every day we should be thankful that we have each other.
We should be thankful for the blessing of having someone in the world that cares about us.
That is what weddings are about.
Perhaps it is why people cry at weddings.
We are just overcome with emotion that two people have found love, commitment, and joy.

The same is true of Baptism.
It is not that baptism is just about the ritual.
It is what the ritual represents for us.
It is about God’s intention in the ritual.
It points to God’s love and care for us.
It says that in this crazy world, within the vastness of the universe, there is a God that cares deeply about our lives and who we are.

Jesus reminds us this morning of the wonder and amazement that can come when we can see this truth when we take in faith with the wonder and amazement of a little child.
Children see the world through different lenses than we do.
When Phoebe was little she used to ask me a million questions in a row.
It would go something like this.
“Daddy why is the sky blue.”
“Well, the sun interacts with the earth’s atmosphere to make the sky blue.”
“Well, we need the sun to live.”
“Well, if we didn’t have the sun there would be no plants there would be no oxygen or nothing to eat.”
This would go on for awhile.
Eventually I would say, “Because God made it that way.”
“Oh..Thanks Daddy.”
What I loved abut it was that she was curious and that everything seemed to be a marvel.
That everything was a miracle.
That everyday presented itself as an open ended discovery of new and exciting things.
We lose that sometimes.
Instead of discovering new things about ourselves, our world, our partners, our kids we become set in our ways.
We formulate opinions that leave no room for discussion and change.
We become hardened to others.
Perhaps that is why Jesus commends the faith of a child, because it is not yet set in stone.
It is still open to the possibilities and miracles of life.
That is why we love a Baptism because we see in the little ones who come to the font as still discovering the mercy and love of God.
Today when Taylor and Lesly come to be washed in the waters of God’s love we will remember what it is like to be a child with the limitless possibilities of life stretched before us.
We will discover anew that faith that touches the deepest parts of our souls.

Jesus is always sending us back to the source.
The religious folks want to argue about obscure parts of the law.
“Is it lawful…”
Jesus on the other hand wants to remind us of what God has done for us.
God out of love gave us marriage and human community.
God out of love gave us children.
God out of love makes the sky blue. (I know there is science involved)
God out of love made this day for you.

Embrace it with all your heart.
Remember that today is a gift.
The people in your life are a gift.
Remember that God today has restored your joy and blessed you.

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