Thursday, December 17, 2015

What Then Should We Do? Love!

“What then should we do?”
This is a good question.
It is one that I ponder a lot recently, in the face of what we are dealing with in our world.
What should we do?
In the face of hatred from radical terrorism, what should we do?
When schools are no longer safe for our children but places that are shot up by people with guns, what then should we do?
When churches are not safe because someone with a gun can kill people at a prayer meeting, what then should we do?
When we as a nation cannot agree on anything because we are so divided from one another, what then should we do?
I was reading this week an article from the pew research center on how we are divided this is what pew had to say about it, “What is clearer is that Americans are experiencing more affective polarization — that is, regardless of where their views are moving, liberals increasingly dislike conservatives, and conservatives increasingly dislike liberals.”
We don’t like each other, no wonder we cannot talk to one another to solve the problems we face.
What should we do?

The people in today’s Gospel had gone into the wilderness because they had heard that something was happening.
That someone was preaching and offering something new.
They went because life was difficult and they needed answers.
What should we do?
I am struck this morning with how simple John’s answers are.
If you have two coats give one away.
If you have more than you need share with people who don’t have enough, If you are a soldier, politician, religious leader, tax collector then simply do your job.
Don’t steal from people, be honest.
It seems too simple.
If you hear me preach on other Sunday’s you know that we talk about how hard and complicated it is to follow Jesus.
Loving your enemies is not easy.
Being peaceful when you feel threatened is not easy.
But this morning I want us to see that often it is easier than we think.
Loving people can be as easy as sharing what extra we have.
The problem is us.
We make it complicated don’t we.
We only want to give our extra coat to people that are “worthy”.
We only want to give it away if they are truly grateful for what we have done.
We only want to give it to someone who will use it the way we would.
This is the problem for us.
Giving is conditional.
And God asks us to give unconditionally.
God asks us to give without thinking of what we get out of it.

But it is so much simpler than we make it.
We all have more than we need.
We all have extra to share.
And all that God requires of us is to share it.
To reflect God’s love by giving to others out of the abundance that God has given us.

The good news is that I see this all the time from people.
All the time I see people who have more than they need share and give away things to others.
All the time I see people of faith give.
In my life I have been blessed to know many people who are generous towards others.
In fact, I believe that the wide majority of people want to help other people.
They want to give, and they do.
So the good news is that in this world that we live in there is lots of love.
There are lots of acts of love.
And when I see those acts I believe that they come from God.
I believe that those acts far outweigh the acts of hatred and violence.
Hatred and violence make the evening news.
And maybe it should.
Tragedies need to be shared and mourned over.
But I will not let that overshadow the good in the world.
I will not let the acts of love that go unnoticed and unreported be lost in the shuffle.
Because those are the acts that really matter.

I am surprised by how much people get worked up over the latest event of the day.
Depending on one’s political view people get worked up when Donald Trump says something, or President Obama says something.
If it is a shooting people who like guns get worked up that others are questioning gun laws, and if you don’t like guns there is lots of gnashing of teeth.
I don’t want to underplay the seriousness of the issues that we face.
I don’t want to say that the tragedies of life are not bad and don’t matter, because they are really bad and do matter.
But in this season of Advent as we wait for God to come down in love through Jesus Christ.
As we prepare for God to come in love.
As we hear John the Baptist encourages us to be ready for God to come.
We can prepare by seeing the acts of love that are all around us, all the time.
See the acts of kindness that are done without notice.

I heard this story this week about this Lutheran couple.
They have made lots of money in their life.
They were walking down the street one day and encountered a homeless man.
They stopped to talk to him to see what they could do to help.
After talking to him they take him to a nearby hotel and pay for him to stay there for 6 months.
It turns out that he was a Veteran.
So they begin a long process to get this man the help he needs.
And eventually they get him the services he is entitled to, a job and a place to live.
You would have never heard that story on the evening news.
They did it quietly without fan fare.
They did it because they had more than they needed and wanted to share it with another person in need.
They did it out of love.
Love that the received from God.
That homeless man changed their life, and they changed his, because of love.

Now this story is an exceptional story.
And maybe most of us don’t have that kind of extra money to help someone.
But we all can help others in some small way.
We can go about our lives doing our jobs with honesty and integrity.
We can show love to everyone around us.
And that is how we beat back the tide of evil in the world.
That is how we get up every day and go on believing in goodness.
That is how we bear good fruit for God.
We don’t get caught up in the hype.
We refuse to be scared and afraid of our neighbors.
We give thanks that we have more than we need, and we share what extra we have with those around us.
We share acts of love.
Love is what we do in this world.
It is what God made us for, what Jesus calls us to, and where the Holy Spirit leads us towards.

It is not too complicated, unless we want to make it that way.
Care for each other.
Do the job God has called us to with honesty and integrity.
Share what we have.
Spread God’s love.
That is what we should do.   Amen

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