Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 19 Sermon

This sermon was given at the 9 AM service at Monroe Congregational Church (our 2nd joint service of the summer).

“Awaken me this morning, Lord to your light,
Open my eyes to your presence.

Awaken me, Lord to your love,
Open my heart to your indwelling.

Awaken me, Lord to your life,
Open my mind to your abiding.

Awaken me always, Lord to your purpose,
Open my will to your guiding.” Amen. - David Adam

What gives you life? I mean what are the things in your life that give you vitality, hope, energy, that without them, you wouldn’t really live? Like Family (spouse, children), Friends, Special Places & Memories – maybe even sacred things.

And yet we live in a culture that tells us there are other things…

· Cars, wealth, power, sports and my own sin new technology, the latest & greatest gadget… (all of which may have a place in our lives but they do not give us life!)

But what gives us life really speaks of what also gives our lives meaning.
Thomas Merton put it this way, "A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire."
Our life, our desires, our hopes all connect with the end we live for and it is scripture that constantly reminds us that we all are made in God’s image.

As we think about being made in God’s image, that our lives are shaped by the end we desire, in comes Jesus, saying to us “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever…”

Living Bread – from the one who was born in the House of Bread (that is the town of Bethlehem), Jesus tells us that through him, we will find life. Jesus is the staple of life, something without which, we wouldn’t really live.

But Jesus isn’t just saying follow me, which of course he is, but he is also saying we must take our part, make our footsteps worth following too.
“Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.”
For when we follow him, when we consume him, Jesus becomes a part of us, something we know we need. Isn’t that one reason we gather each week at MCC & St. Peter’s, because we find Jesus here in these sacred places and in each other?
I read an article recently that talked about a small church just outside of Pittsburgh, the biggest day of their church year, after Christmas & Easter, is Chili Sunday. Every year on a Sunday in mid-January, members of the parish make their favorite chili recipe and bring it in a Crock-Pot to church. Volunteers set out serving bowls on long tables in the church hall, with little placards that identify the person who prepared each bowl and what is in it, beef chili or turkey, chicken or vegetarian chili. People hurry to the hall after church, plunge into the banquet and find their way to seats at the round tables.

The pastor writes, “As the pastor I butterfly around their small talk. I used to hope that they were all talking about the lofty themes of the sermon. [They weren’t…] And yet It is over bowls of chili that the theology becomes incarnational and takes on all of the fleshly concerns they brought to church that day. What they say is, “How is your job search going?” Whether they realize it or not, they’re actually asking each other, “Do you think God cares?” After 30 years of pastoral ministry, I have finally discovered the theology of small talk over a bowl of chili. It’s not small at all. The folding tables in the fellowship hall are not formal pieces of ecclesiastical furniture like the sanctuary’s communion table. But they give us a sacramental glimpse of the Christ who is among us in ordinary places. This has always been one of the church’s best ideas—we are a religion whose faithful need to eat together.

People crowd into the fellowship hall for a bowl of chili because their souls hunger for an ordinary variety of holiness. We expect to find Jesus the Savior in the church sanctuary, hospital or places of crises. We yearn to find him on laundry day.” [From "Holy Small Talk" by M. Craig Barnes, The Christian Century, May 30, 2012.]
Living Bread - the simplest and most basic of foods - Jesus connects our most ordinary lives with his life & the love, compassion and mercy of God.

Whenever we gather, let us remember that Living Bread – that which truly give us life and share that with one another; at the tables where we break bread, where we celebrate family and connect with friends; in sharing the bounty of the harvest, where we create communities of support and reconciliation, at the times we are gathered in community to share a sacred communion, or even in a moment of enjoying ice cream together after service. Amen.

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