Sunday, June 07, 2009

Trinity - Year B

NB: With a wee bit ' help from Willimon's Pulpit Resource.

Maybe its my adult-onset-ADD, but I like to fidget. But my fidgeting usually involves my iPod and the Solitaire game on it. I noticed the other day that I've clocked over 35 hours of solitaire playing that game over the past year or so.

It's incredible how quickly the time gets eaten up. A few moments standing in line at the grocery store while the guy in front tries to haggle with the cashier. A couple games while waiting for supper to cook. A series of games before bedtime to quiet my mind.

Moment by moment. Game by game. If I'm not careful, my life's summation will be a series of card games that offer little or nothing to the world.

Don't worry. This isn't a sermon about making the most of what we have with the time we've been given. While such would be a worthy message, this isn't really the time nor the place for that since we have the perspective of eternity. Our lives may tick-tick-tick away, but God's life doesn't. As believers we know that we'll have eternity with God.

But does that mean that we can fritter our lives away on something as frivolous as a silly computer game?

Maybe. After all, isn't that what freedom means? To decide for ourselves how we're going to live, whether it's solving world hunger or sitting in front of a TV; creating world peace or playing computer games? Isn't that called “Freedom of choice”? The foundation of our economy and culture?

I can see the parents trying to flag me down, “Shut! Up! We have enough trouble wrestling the joysticks out of their hands as it is, we don't need the pastor giving them ammunition!”

And it's true. Parents have a lot of trouble teaching their children to make good decisions, how to use freedom wisely. Being a parent can be a fearful thing because we know that our actions NOW affect our children into adulthood – and beyond.

Rebekah did a funeral for a fellow in Halifax who died of an aggressive form of prostate cancer. He had just turned 65 and was planning to enjoy a well-earned retirement with his family, especially, his grandkids.

The diagnoses devastated him. Every time Rebekah visited with him he asked the same question, “Why? Why did this happen to me? I eat my veggies, I exercise. I do everything I'm supposed to do. So why is this cancer eating me alive?”

Apparently, the pesticide his family used on the farm growing up killed more than bugs, it caused the cancer he had now. From spraying the fields as a boy, he contends with deadly disease as a man.

It makes me wonder just how many decisions am I dying from right now? How many decisions will kill me?

And not just decsions for me, but for my family, my kids. After all it wasn't Clyde's idea to spray those fields with that pesticide.

It makes you see the world and your actions through newly minted eyes, doesn't it? I know it does for me.

At our house we put up with a few stray dandelions because we don't want to scatter poison on the grass where our kids roll around. We try to buy local food and to support local businesses in order to shrink our environmental footprint and help grow the local economy. We read and learn, read and learn, read and learn, so we can make the best choices for our children's' future.

And yet, as much as we read and learn there is ALWAYS more we don't know. Added to the mix is what we can't control. So, life can be a series of anxious choices about a fearful future. We hope our choices matter. And we're afraid that one day we'll see we've made a mistake, and someone we love will be hurt by our choices.

To hard-working, goal-setting and goal achieving, conscientious people like us, perhaps we're here today to hear a different gospel, because we know – somewhere – that we are not fully the sum of our choices. I'm pretty sure it's why I'm hear.

If Easter means anything – and every Sunday is supposed to be Easter Sunday, the Day of Resurrection – then it means that I'm not the only person busy choosing and deciding and acting in the world. God is ALSO choosing, deciding, and acting in the world. And God's choices and actions always trump our choices and actions.

It seems to be that our greatest temptation is to live as though God doesn't exist. We're “functional atheists.” Saying we believe in God but living, working, deciding, acting as though we don't believe God does.

I don't think we're consciously doing it, but I think it's easier to live according to our own understandings of how the world works, rather than to conform to the expectations of some unseen deity. Many of us live anxious lives and we want to do something about it NOW rather than wait for God to intervene in our lives.

When we learn the global ice caps will melt 40 years sooner than previously expected, we cruise the ads for a Prius and change the lightbulbs in our houses. When we read about the 30 000 children who died last night of malnutrition and hunger related diseases, we boost our giving to Canadian Lutheran World Relief. In other words, we want to ACT!

And that's a good impulse. I think that impulse to act comes from God. Even when we have a healthy dose of self-interest thrown into our actions, God still can use those impulses. Even when we are a bundle of mixed motivations, God uses even our darkest desires and creates something beautiful.

I think this is what Paul was talking about in today's second reading when he said:

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.”

Certainly, by God's grace, our actions DO matter. But God's actions do as well. Even more so.

And I think we need to be reminded that most of what we do is in RESPONSE to what God has done, is doing, and will do. God has asked us, in the first chapters of Genesis, to join in creation, to be co-creators with God, to participate in what God is already doing.

It's not ultimately OUR choices that matter, but God's choices. The world is in our hands. But maybe more importantly, the world is in God's hands. And that's why we have hope.

I think that's what John was getting at when he reminded us that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

It's the world God loves. It's the world God saves.

May this be so among us. Amen.


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