Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wiping Away the Tears

We get to hear some pretty significant promises at the end of our reading from Revelation this morning.
“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
And this is not a new promise.
It is a promise that God made through the prophets, in the Psalms, and through Jesus Christ.
We hear it echoed in Paul’s letters.
I was thinking of this passage and the list of names that we read at the start of worship this morning.
The names that I put on that list I have shed many tears for those people.
I have cried before, during, and after funerals for all of them.
I have cried because I knew that I would miss them.
I cried because in some significant way they touched my life.
They gave a part of themselves too me, for me.
I am sure that if you put down names that we read this morning you too cried for those that you loved.
If you are visiting with us for the first time, and you could think of someone you know and loved who died that you cried tears for their loss.

What a great promise we receive from God when there will be a time when we don’t have to cry those tears anymore.
What a great day it will be when death is no longer a factor that we have to contend with.
And the reason we won’t have to contend with it is because we will be standing in the presence of God.
We will be by the throne of God, with the Jesus as our shepherd.
We will see fully what now we can only glimpse in a mirror dimly.
I can’t wait for that day.
I hold firm to that promise that is given in Revelation.

But here we are in the meantime.
Here we are today.
When there are tears.
And the reason for those tears is because someone else took time, gave time, to love us and care for us.
We formed a relationship with someone.
And that is what we are talking about this morning.
We are talking about what we do in the meantime while we wait for the fulfillment of that ancient promise that we spoken through the prophets, sung in Psalms, and give to us in Jesus Christ.
While we wait we steward.
We take the things that God gave us, and we use them for the sake of others.
We know that they are not ours, they are only on loan.
We know this because we read these names and are reminded that nothing is forever, we only have so many days.
And it is what we do with those days.
It is how we live, and how we give what God gave us.
How we steward God’s gifts.

Every one of the people who I wrote on this list gave something to me, for me.
They stewarded the things they had so that I can stand here today and be a pastor.
People on that list took time to give the greatest gift we can give another human being, our love.
They also, gave me money and time.
My dad is on this list.
And every time I would leave him he would give me $20.00 for gas.
He didn’t have to do that, and maybe he had to go without something he wanted to be able to give that gift, but he did it.
That is not to mention all the other things he sacrificed for me.
Nils Johnson was my college chaplain, and he gave me so much of his time.
I spent countless hours in his office, asking questions, arguing with him.
He gave of himself for me.
I was thinking about my Uncle Gilly whose name I wrote down.
At his funeral for his eulogy I talked about how he always tried to enter my world and understand me.
That is a great gift we can give another person.
I am here because these people and many other took time to get to know me, love me, give of themselves for me.
And that is just it, that none of us is here this morning because we are strong willed people.
All of us owe this life that we have to someone else.
We are here because someone was a steward of God’s gift.
We are here because someone took the time to care and love us.
And I can tell you that is in short supply.

Even more than this all of those names I wrote down took time to put up with my sin.
I know you all are thinking, “But pastor you are so wonderful.” (You are thinking that right?)
The truth is that I am not that wonderful.
I am difficult, and sinful.
But those people loved me enough to see through it, to put up with it, and to be gentle and forgiving.
So much of our lives now are so mean and hard.
How much better we all are when we are stewards of what God has given, and when we use those gifts to love others.
“See what love the father has given us.”
How much better are we to be able to steward God’s love towards others.

That is what we are thinking about today.
Stewardship Sunday is not merely about writing down a number on a card.
It is about us thinking about the ways that we use what God has given to love and care for others, and the world.
How are we stewarding others?
What will our legacy be as Saints of God?
How will we be remembered when our names are read on All Saints Sunday in the future?

All of these people are saints because of God’s love and the way they shared that love.
Of course all the names I wrote down not one of those people was perfect.
They were all flawed humans.
I could tell you how they were flawed.
But love covers a multitude of Sins.
Love helps us reconcile to each other.
And when we are stewards we use the love of God to help overcome our short comings to be with others.

I was in the supermarket the other day and there was a beauty magazine cover that said, “Just do this one thing and stop aging.”
What a ridiculus thing to promise.
We all know that we can’t stop that process.
We are all aging.
As people of faith we know that our days on this earth are not infinite.
And we know that we have limited time to be stewards of this gift of life.
That is what we remember today the finite amount of time we all have.
But also the time we have to love each other, the preciousness of that time.
The tears we shed because we always want more time, it always goes too fast.
And finally we remember the promise.
I know that every time I lose someone I love I am comforted by my faith.
I am comforted to know that the person I lost is not gone but worshipping at the throne of God.
And it reminds me of the importance of being a steward of the time I have here now.

I always wonder why God doesn’t just hurry up and make the promise a reality all ready.
But perhaps there is something in the stewarding.
There is beauty in the between time.
There is joy now, because of the love we receive from God and the love we share.
I think that those times really make God joyful.

We forget that Revelation was written to a community of believers that were wondering if God still cared for them.
They were facing persecution and injustice.
They were facing death.
Revelation was written to remind them of the promise, of the love that God has for us, and the stewarding we do now in this time.
It was written to saints of God to remain faithful in difficult uncertain times.
It was written for sinners to remember that God was still in control.
It is written for us today so that we can remember again the promise, to hold firm, and rejoice that we have been loved by others, and have seen a glimpse of God’s love through them.

So today we pray for the hasting of the day when our tears will be no more.
And we ask for strength in the meantime to be stewards of the love given to us by God.

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