Sermon – 01-17-21 – Epiphany 2 – Cycle B
Scriptures: 1 Samuel 3:1-20; Psalm 139 1-6, 13-18; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 13; John 1:43-51
Sermon Title: “Finding Ourselves in the Lord: Living the Plan”
Do we have to stick to God’s plan? No, we don’t. We can do our own trial and error stunts. We can follow our own stars, so to speak. Sometimes our life choices are not bad choices. However, if our path does not match the path God has in mind for each of us, we are not being the best person we can be. When we are open to God’s leading and we slide or jump into God’s plan, we feel like we have come home to ourselves. It works!
Why do we not follow God’s path from the beginning? Many reasons. Maybe the door is not open or we do not notice the open door. Maybe the sacrifice seems to be too great because we have other obligations that cannot be set aside. Maybe people in our lives have pulled or pushed us into a different path. Maybe we are scared. Maybe we lack self-confidence.
We need to check what tasks make us feel good; what tasks go well. We need to check which tasks have us eagerly putting our feet on the floor in the morning. What if our abilities match a job that does not carry the respect of our friends and relatives or will not result in a prestige image. Compare being a supervisor in a grocery store to being the CEO of a car manufacturing plant. Compare being the designer of cars to being a scientist who works with emissions and climate change. Compare the scientist who is knowledgeable and who enjoys working with genetics to produce seeds that grow better in certain locations around the world with the person who types the data into a system. Compare being a garbage truck driver to being an airline pilot.
Some of these positions automatically bring prestige, some of these positions make us wrinkle our noses. A dedicated and respectful garbage truck driver.is much needed in our society. Good, gentle parents are needed so that our world will be based on respect and good relationships. Sometimes, one parent is natured to do this task well and naturally, irregardless of gender.
If neither parent is natured this way, then it makes sense that another person is found who is loving and knows how to bring the best from each child; the best that child can be; the child that God planned. This arrangement would not be to remove the child from the parents but the gifted person would serve as part of the family system. Children need LOVE; unrestricted love, in tandem with skillful guidance toward respectful attitudes and behavior.
Some of us are writers, some do-ers. Some of us are dreamers, others fulfill the dreams. Some of us are skilled in athletics, some of us in music. Some of us are in good-paying jobs but we are not especially good at the job or we dislike it more each day. Sometimes sacrifice is the wall.
Sometimes we just need to wait and wait some more until our lives are at a point where we see the door or maybe even only a window. Sometimes retirement opens the door to what we really enjoy and can do well. What do you really enjoy doing with your time? Twice we have used a Call to Confession that Bob Conner found. It is about only having each day once. It is important that we feel good about that day because it is an investment in the scheme of our whole life.
Do we do what God wants us to do with each day? Can we add it to our plus column or must it find its place in a negative column. In years to come, will that day have been wasted or useful? A relaxing day can be useful. That could be how God intended for us to use that very day. Of course, we remember the “seventh day” program. Work six, rest one. Work six, rest one.
Does God really have time to know each of our thoughts and actions? Psalm 139 assures us that God knows every single thing about us. In our Hebrew lesson, Eli knows that God knows everything about himself and his sons. God rebukes Eli for his son’s behavior! In our Gospel lesson, Jesus knows about Nathaniel before he ever meets or speaks to Nathaniel. The Psalmist says, “You know my sitting down and my rising up, you trace my journeys and my resting places and are acquainted with all my ways.”
Where does illness fit into this picture of using each day the way God planned? This is a great MYSTERY! The mystery of the ages, this is! It is extremely puzzling to find God in illness and to be reconciled to illness and pain! “You have looked deep into my heart, Lord. Oh, God, what are you seeing?” Our thoughts easily move to why. “What have I done? How bad are my transgressions?” We are promised that God is with us. In addition to looking for the open door, may our hearts be an open door for God to enter. “But, my heart is open, God. Where are you? Why don’t you release me from this pain?” we say. Or in being handicapped in some physical or emotional or mental way? God’s plan? Nathaniel says about Jesus, “Can any good come out of Nazareth?” We say, “Can any good come from pain and disability?”
I have no answer, none. EXCEPT to offer that some of the most spiritually connected people to God are the ones with the most pain or the most regrets or the worst living conditions. “You have looked deep into my heart, Lord. And with your powerful arm you protect me from every side. I can’t understand all of this! Such wonderful knowledge is far above me,” they say.
This is when we say, “Lord, I Want To Be A Christian In My Heart,” as Madison sang. “Lord, I Want To Be More Loving In My Heart.” Love. Another verse says, “Lord, I Want To Be More Holy.” When Satan comes knocking at the door, the holiness that God has helped us to develop in our hearts and minds will help us to send Satan our meanest frown before we slam the door in Satans’s face. Satan is gone! Evil is gone!
With Satan and evil gone, love has wonderful room to expand. This is not selfish love. What else did Connie read about love? Love helps us to bring the other person along, to help the other person be the best person he or she can be. Love encourages the other person. Love wants good for the other person. Love helps us to put the other person before ourselves.
We sang, “We are called to be God’s servants, working in his world today;
taking his own task upon us, all his sacred words obey.
Let us rise, then, to his summons, dedicate to him our all,
that we may be faithful servants, quick to answer now his call.”
That is the goal. But first, this is how we accomplish the goal.
“Into my heart. Into my heart. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.
Come in today, Come in to stay. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.”