St. Matthew’s Sermon 07-29-2018


St. Matthew’s Sermon 07-29-2018

We Will Get There!

2 Samuel 11:1-15, Psalm 14, Ephesians 3:14-21, John 6:1-21

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God. Amen

I am fairly confident in saying that anyone who has been a child on a long trip (like an hour or more) has uttered the words. Or, if you can’t remember back that far yourself, I’m equally as certain that any of you who have ever taken a child on a long trip have heard the words in a whiney voice, “are we there yet?” or the equally annoyed / annoying “how much longer?” I remember it from both sides; the speaking and the hearing.

As a child, for me, it was all about impatience. There was the intense desire to get to the excitement at the end of the trip, like the ocean shore or the amusement park, on one hand; and on the other hand was the desperate need to escape the unendurable boredom of being trapped between my two sisters in the back seat of a car for way-too-long.

Somehow, I can even imagine Bryan and Cindy hearing the words “how much longer” coming from the back seat at this very moment as our Youth Group makes the second leg of their long trip into Appalachia for their mission work.

I did, eventually, grow out of that particular kind of impatience, but looking back at my life I see that other desires came into play in much the same manner. There was the long wait until I was old enough to drive. That time finally arrived but was replaced with the following 2 years of drudgery until I would graduate high school. And then came enduring the effort of seeking the ever elusive point of financial security.

We often refer to life as being a journey and, by my examples, I think we can see why that is a fitting metaphor. Life is full of exciting places to be; but in between there is often drudgery, boredom, and patience-taxing endurance.

Reaching further back in time, we can see the eons-long span of human existence in much the same light as our relatively brief lives.

Just think about this biblically if you will. Only looking at a few of the major events (there are so many more interspersed) we are taken from our human origins in the Garden of Eden, through several minor stories to the Flood of Noah. Noah spent a long time building the ark before the flood came and the ride itself was also long.

Are we there yet?

Again, it’s some time to the next most exciting story of the Exodus. The people of God were enslaved in Egypt for a long long time, it took a good bit of time for Moses to convince Pharaoh to “let my people go”, and even after they were freed, they spent 40 years wandering around in the desert before God allowed them the joy of seeing the long-awaited “Promised Land”.

Are we there yet?

And another, the Babylonian Exile, when the people of Judah were conquered and most of them taken from their land; not returning for another 40-something years.

Are we there yet?

Finally, some time before the time of Christ, Judea was conquered and occupied by the Roman Empire and they were still occupied in Christ’s time. This fact, though not mentioned in today’s Gospel reading, is a part of the context of the story.

The people of Judea were free to worship as they pleased, but they were heavily taxed by Rome. With that oppression they were eager to see the coming of the promised Messiah, the one who would deliver them from their misery. They were growing impatient, and they recognized Jesus as a man of God by his  miraculous works and signs; this explaining that little phrase in the reading stating that  “they were about to come and take him by force to make him king…” This must be the one who will deliver us!

We must be there now!

 

History, of course, continued to repeat itself. In Judea and all around the world, wars continued, conquerors continued to oppress the conquered, and still today we see the suffering of millions of God’s children at the hands of the ungodly.

I see those adrift in life desperately seeking a sign of hope for solid ground on which to stand. I see the enslavement of the hungry who long for freedom. I see those driven from their own land with no other place to call home. I see the wealthy reclining in comfort as “…they trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and push the afflicted out of the way…” (Amos 2:7).

I see all this and I so long for the day when God’s Kingdom comes and his will is doneon earth as it is in heaven; for the day when we realize that there is plenty foreveryone, and there can be peace foreveryone, and that having our freedom does not mean that others have to give up their freedom.

I see all this and I become impatient and I cry out, O God, how much longer?

 

The Disciples were crossing the sea at night. They couldn’t see how far they had gone nor how far they yet had to go. But when Jesus joined them, as we read, “…immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

We aren’t there yet, we’re still on the journey toward the day of the revelation of God’s Kingdom in this world. We don’t know how far we’ve gone nor how far we yet have to go. But we will get there! It will come suddenly, unexpectedly, surprisingly; and it-will-be-glorious!

In your impatient moments, hold on to that hope!

Amen

 

2 Samuel 11:1-15
11:1 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
11:2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful.
11:3 David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, “This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”
11:4 So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself after her period.) Then she returned to her house.
11:5 The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”
11:6 So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David.
11:7 When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going.
11:8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king.
11:9 But Uriah slept at the entrance of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house.
11:10 When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “You have just come from a journey. Why did you not go down to your house?”
11:11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing.”
11:12 Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day. On the next day,
11:13 David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.
11:14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.
11:15 In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.”

 

Psalm 14
14:1 Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.
14:2 The LORD looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.
14:3 They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one.
14:4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the LORD?
14:5 There they shall be in great terror, for God is with the company of the righteous.
14:6 You would confound the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge.
14:7 O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.

 

Ephesians 3:14-21
3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
3:15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.
3:16 I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,
3:17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
3:18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
3:19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
3:20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,
3:21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

John 6:1-21
6:1 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.
6:2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.
6:3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples.
6:4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.
6:5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”
6:6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.
6:7 Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”
6:8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,
6:9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”
6:10 Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.
6:11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.
6:12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.”
6:13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.
6:14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”
6:15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
6:16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,
6:17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
6:18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.
6:19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified.
6:20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”
6:21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.