Monday, December 1, 2014

Hope is Electric! Boogie woogie, woogie! But You Know Its there!

How many of you have ever done the electric slide at a wedding?
I have done this dance many times.
It is one of the easier dances in the world to do, and that is why I can participate.
My wife and I were watching our wedding video, as we do every year, and there is a point in the video when we are at the reception hall where everyone is out on the dance floor doing the electric slide.
We are happy smiling and laughing.
What struck me about watching people do the electric slide in our wedding video is that many of the people that are dancing are now dead.
They have gone on to be with the saints in heaven.
But I imagine that this is what heaven is like.
This is why Jesus often refers to the kingdom of God as a wedding banquet.
It is people dancing for joy, happy to be with one another.
It is a dance that everyone can do.
The thing is that many of the people in the video are still here.
We are still dancing on this earth, still trying to get the steps right.
And this dichotomy is what advent is about.
It is about the future time when we will all be one dancing with joy in each other’s company, and in the company of God.
It is also about those of us still on this pilgrimage who are still trying to do what is right, still trying to be good stewards of this earth and each other.
Those of us hear this morning are living at that intersection of now, we know the good news of the Gospel given in Jesus Christ, and not yet having a perfect world.
We are living in a world that is fallen, that is imperfect and sinful.
And we wait for that time when all things will be set right.
We wait with hope.
We wait because Jesus has promised us a happy ending.
When we lived through all the suffering, when we lived through the dark night of the soul, when we have been through trials and tribulations, we will see then in perfect love and joy what now we hope for.

And it is not a hope built on positive thinking.
But a hope built on the promise of God given to us through Jesus Christ.
I would suggest this morning that it is not a passive hope either.
It is an active hope.
Because while we wait and watch we are also active in trying to make the world as God wants it to be.
Notice in our Gospel reading this morning that the master goes away, and he gives his slaves work to do until he returns.
The master does not say, “I am leaving, do nothing until I get back.”
In the meantime there are fields to tend, wheat to harvest, work to be done.

It seems at times in this world that all things are lost.
That not only are things not getting better, but they are getting worse.
It seems that no matter what we do, that the problems we face cannot be solved.
I know that I sometimes fall into that pit of despair.
But I would like to suggest that there is something to us continually trying that in the act of working for justice and peace, we are showing our hope in God’s kingdom come.
Because we are asked by God to not merely sit back and observe the chaos of the world and think that is ok because someday God will make it all Ok.
But rather that our call is to join God in the work, because someday God will make it all ok.

This week we all saw on the news what happened in Ferguson, Missouri.
I am sure that all of us have opinions about what happened.
On the day after the grand jury’s decision not to indict policeman Darren Wilson I was filled with many thoughts and emotions.
I was sad, frustrated, confused, and lost.
It seems that no matter how much advancement we have in race relations in our country there is always anger and resentment that burns underneath the surface.
And that is also seen in the way that people reacted to the protests, and rioting.
But this morning I want us to look on what happened not in terms of who was right and who was wrong.
But in terms of how we understand the world we live in as Christians.
I want us to look at what happened in Ferguson In terms of how Christians view the world in this advent time.
We are people who live in a fallen world.
We are a people who do not live in the final happily ever after.
We are a people who live in hope.

Perhaps the best reaction was written by Benjamin Watson who plays football for the New Orleans Saints.

He wrote a letter that is making it around the internet.

My mom told me to read it because she too thought it was powerful.

I will not read the entire letter, but I encourage you to Google it and read it for yourself.

In the letter Benjamin Watson describes how he feels angry, frustrated, fearful, embarrassed, sad, sympathetic, offended, confused.

At the end of the letter this is what says.

“I'M HOPELESS, because I've lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen.
I'm not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.
I'M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents.
I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors.
And it's a beautiful thing.
I'M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem.
SIN is the reason we rebel against authority.
SIN is the reason we abuse our authority.
SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own.
SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn.
BUT I'M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind.
One that's capable of looking past the outward and seeing what's truly important in every human being.
The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure.
It's the Gospel.
So, finally, I'M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope."
That is what ultimately gives us hope too.

As we live in a world that is broken and unjust we wait and watch for the day for God to truly transform us, to make our world not just better, but perfect.
We wait for the day when the Son of Man comes in clouds with great power and glory.
And part of watching means being able to see the world through this lends.
It means seeing past the present moment, without forgetting to act in the present moment.
In the working of the Holy Spirit our hymn of the day will be the African American spiritual “My Lord, What a Morning.”
It is a spiritual written by a people who have experienced extreme injustice, but who hope that one morning God will tear open the heavens and we will see God’s right hand fully.

In the meantime we act in ways that the grace of God gives us the ability to act, because in this advent time we do know Jesus.
We know that he has given us way to see our sin, and the sin of the world, and to know the sweet music of the Gospel.
And that is to see in all things the hope that the world will turn to God and God will make all things new.
And it is our hope that sustains us in this in between time.
It is our hope that makes us see the world differently and act differently in our world.

Someday we will all do the electric slide together, black, white, red, orange, or whatever.
In the meantime we enter the dance because God has put us in charge of caring for each other.
In the meantime we cry out with the prophet Isaiah, “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down.”
In the meantime we sing songs of hope that someday we will see God’s right hand.
In the meantime we live in hope that all barriers will be broken down.
In the meantime we can see each other as we are fallen people in need of God’s grace and mercy.
In the meantime until the heavens open, until the stars fall, and the moon turns black, and the mountains shake, until that wonderful day let us love mercy, act justly, and walk humbly with God.

1 comment:

  1. It is time to stand up to the Fundamentalists in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

    I do not expect to change the mind of even one Christian fundamentalist by my online campaign against gay-hate-speech-promoting Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod official, Paul T. McCain and Patrick Henry Christian College provost, Gene Veith. I do not expect that any amount of reasoned argument will convince them of their vicious, hateful, "un-Jesus-like" behavior.

    My goal is to expose them.

    My goal is to have their Churches, Universities, Associations, and Websites added to the list of Hate Groups loathed by the overwhelming majority of the American people; so deeply loathed and reviled that these groups are marginalized to the sidelines of American society, politics, and culture; their opinions and views held in no more regard than that of other sponsors of hate, such as the KKK and Neo-Nazis.