“Rising To A New Day”

Sermon – 08-21-22 – Proper 16 – Cycle C
Scripture – Isaiah 58:9b-14; Psalm 103:1-8; Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13:10-17
Sermon Title: “Rising to a New Day”

Pain, Pain, Pain! Pain is all around and everywhere! Surely, we have all felt pain, be it of varying degrees. A paper cut stops us for a short time unless we are on blood thinners; then the annoyance will be a bit longer. A broken bone changes our life for awhile. We have the immediate acknowledgment that we are in trouble; then the pain; then the awful inconvenience and maybe continued pain that follows for weeks or months. I know people who have pain 24/7 for the rest of their lives. We yearn for healing, just as Jesus healed the woman in our gospel lesson from Luke.

When my leg was injured, it was scary and painful. Would I be dealing with this pain for the rest of my life. I had hope, of course. First because physical therapists have rescued me in the past. Second, which should be first, is the hope and trust that God has more work for me to do with two normal legs. But we never know of course. So we do the best that we can while being alert for clues from God that will help us. The idea is that God will be with us through every moment of pain. God did not cause our pain. It happened.

Each morning shall be a new day. A new sunrise. A new exploration of what does God want for us to do in this new day. What gift is God planning for us? I am not suggesting that God will remove the pain for all of us when we manage to have this new attitude. I am not suggesting that prayer will always remove the pain. What am I suggesting then?

First of all, I am definitely not suggesting that pain happens as punishment for anything we did or said in the past unless we were injured by doing something dangerous or “naughty.”. We could go on and on about physical pain; how it changes our life for a while or for a lifetime. But there is the pain of the heart and mind and soul that no CT scan or MRI scan or a blood test can find except for the high blood pressure that may accompany this pain.

But this pain of the heart and mind and soul comes into our lives for any number of reasons. Some of us can brush off this kind of pain more easily than others of us. I am convinced that heartbreak can actually make our hearts stop working.

Why am I spending so much time on the subject of pain? Did any of our lessons today stress pain? What did we hear? You probably noticed the emphasis on the Sabbath and how we should be using the Sabbath. Is the Sabbath punishment, or is the Sabbath a gift? Is there a reason God wants us to treat the Sabbath as a restorer of our souls and bodies? Melinda may help us.

Melinda was always active and loved life. There were always pictures of goals in her mind. She felt so good as she accomplished each goal and moved on to the next goal. But one day, out of the blue, the person she loved as her life partner was suddenly not there. She had always felt especially good on Sunday mornings. Off to early church she would go, greeting the sunrise with joy in her heart and in every bone of her body. But, now there was no joy. Her world looked black. Melinda was afraid to talk to God. She might explode with anger. She may have a crying spell that would last for hours. But, finally, after weeks of this anguish, she found herself talking to God. “God, where is the sunshine? Where is the healing for my soul? When will my world stop being so dark? When will I start loving the world again? When will I start loving you again?” Melinda started in a whisper that grew to the sound of a tornado coming! “When, God!” Melinda screamed.

At that moment, Melinda felt the change. “Oh, God! Oh, God! Thank you! Guess which day of the week this happened to be. You guessed it. Sunday. Our day of Sabbath. Should God have waited until a new day or at least midnight between Sunday and Monday to gift Melinda with this change?

When my leg was very painful, I would have been glad to have relief no matter what day of the week it was. Relief for me started on a Monday. I declared that day a Sabbath in my life. From that day on, each day was a Sabbath for me. I am still rejoicing over the change each day. I find myself thanking God over and over for restoration of walking painlessly. But some of you are hurting as I speak. You may be wondering when your turn for rejoicing will come. Some of you may not have pain but you have lost the use of you leg or your back. You yearn for the freedom of being healed. Yet others may be gradually losing control in other ways. Where is my Sabbath of healing?” you say.

Of course, we can pray for ourselves. We can pray for each other. Regular daily prayer brings us closer to God. But as we know, with God there is no guarantee. I expect to have more pain before God invites me into the holy place of no pain and no tears and no anger and no loneliness.

Do we need to wait for the absence of pain to feel the joy of the Sabbath? Do we need to wait for the absence of pain to experience the awe of the presence of God in our lives? This God who is awesome AND merciful. But where is the mercy? Some of you could tell me about the abundant mercy of God in your lives. Think about it. How could you help the rest of us come closer to God by hearing your sharing, your witness?

When were you disappointed? When were you desperate for help and relief? Or when did the night sky fill you with a sense of God’s presence clear down to your toes? When did some blessing fall into your life and increased your closeness to God? When did God bring the right counselor into your life, the right doctor, the right friend – be it human or pet, the right amount of money when you needed it and had no where to turn? When did God have you at the right place at the right time to help someone else? WE DO NOT HAVE A REMOTE GOD. When and how did God touch your life?

By the way, how do you spend the Sabbath? Do you ever find yourself doing things that do not give joy to you on a Sunday? Then stop it, if you possibly can. However, if you find your heart filled with joy with your Sunday activities AND you feel closer to God when you are enjoying whatever you are doing, then continue! The Sabbath is for rejuvenation, refreshment, re-creation, and healing and FIRST worship most of all.

We will find ourselves “rising to a new day!” From Isaiah God speaks, “. . .then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. . . . If you call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, . . . then you shall take delight in the Lord.” Amen

Sermon – 08-21-22 – Proper 16 – Cycle C
Scripture – Isaiah 58:9b-14; Psalm 103:1-8; Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13:10-17
Sermon Title: “Rising to a New Day”

Pain, Pain, Pain! Pain is all around and everywhere! Surely, we have all felt pain, be it of varying degrees. A paper cut stops us for a short time unless we are on blood thinners; then the annoyance will be a bit longer. A broken bone changes our life for awhile. We have the immediate acknowledgment that we are in trouble; then the pain; then the awful inconvenience and maybe continued pain that follows for weeks or months. I know people who have pain 24/7 for the rest of their lives. We yearn for healing, just as Jesus healed the woman in our gospel lesson from Luke.

When my leg was injured, it was scary and painful. Would I be dealing with this pain for the rest of my life. I had hope, of course. First because physical therapists have rescued me in the past. Second, which should be first, is the hope and trust that God has more work for me to do with two normal legs. But we never know of course. So we do the best that we can while being alert for clues from God that will help us. The idea is that God will be with us through every moment of pain. God did not cause our pain. It happened.

Each morning shall be a new day. A new sunrise. A new exploration of what does God want for us to do in this new day. What gift is God planning for us? I am not suggesting that God will remove the pain for all of us when we manage to have this new attitude. I am not suggesting that prayer will always remove the pain. What am I suggesting then?

First of all, I am definitely not suggesting that pain happens as punishment for anything we did or said in the past unless we were injured by doing something dangerous or “naughty.”. We could go on and on about physical pain; how it changes our life for a while or for a lifetime. But there is the pain of the heart and mind and soul that no CT scan or MRI scan or a blood test can find except for the high blood pressure that may accompany this pain.

But this pain of the heart and mind and soul comes into our lives for any number of reasons. Some of us can brush off this kind of pain more easily than others of us. I am convinced that heartbreak can actually make our hearts stop working.

Why am I spending so much time on the subject of pain? Did any of our lessons today stress pain? What did we hear? You probably noticed the emphasis on the Sabbath and how we should be using the Sabbath. Is the Sabbath punishment, or is the Sabbath a gift? Is there a reason God wants us to treat the Sabbath as a restorer of our souls and bodies? Melinda may help us.

Melinda was always active and loved life. There were always pictures of goals in her mind. She felt so good as she accomplished each goal and moved on to the next goal. But one day, out of the blue, the person she loved as her life partner was suddenly not there. She had always felt especially good on Sunday mornings. Off to early church she would go, greeting the sunrise with joy in her heart and in every bone of her body. But, now there was no joy. Her world looked black. Melinda was afraid to talk to God. She might explode with anger. She may have a crying spell that would last for hours. But, finally, after weeks of this anguish, she found herself talking to God. “God, where is the sunshine? Where is the healing for my soul? When will my world stop being so dark? When will I start loving the world again? When will I start loving you again?” Melinda started in a whisper that grew to the sound of a tornado coming! “When, God!” Melinda screamed.

At that moment, Melinda felt the change. “Oh, God! Oh, God! Thank you! Guess which day of the week this happened to be. You guessed it. Sunday. Our day of Sabbath. Should God have waited until a new day or at least midnight between Sunday and Monday to gift Melinda with this change?

When my leg was very painful, I would have been glad to have relief no matter what day of the week it was. Relief for me started on a Monday. I declared that day a Sabbath in my life. From that day on, each day was a Sabbath for me. I am still rejoicing over the change each day. I find myself thanking God over and over for restoration of walking painlessly. But some of you are hurting as I speak. You may be wondering when your turn for rejoicing will come. Some of you may not have pain but you have lost the use of you leg or your back. You yearn for the freedom of being healed. Yet others may be gradually losing control in other ways. Where is my Sabbath of healing?” you say.

Of course, we can pray for ourselves. We can pray for each other. Regular daily prayer brings us closer to God. But as we know, with God there is no guarantee. I expect to have more pain before God invites me into the holy place of no pain and no tears and no anger and no loneliness.

Do we need to wait for the absence of pain to feel the joy of the Sabbath? Do we need to wait for the absence of pain to experience the awe of the presence of God in our lives? This God who is awesome AND merciful. But where is the mercy? Some of you could tell me about the abundant mercy of God in your lives. Think about it. How could you help the rest of us come closer to God by hearing your sharing, your witness?

When were you disappointed? When were you desperate for help and relief? Or when did the night sky fill you with a sense of God’s presence clear down to your toes? When did some blessing fall into your life and increased your closeness to God? When did God bring the right counselor into your life, the right doctor, the right friend – be it human or pet, the right amount of money when you needed it and had no where to turn? When did God have you at the right place at the right time to help someone else? WE DO NOT HAVE A REMOTE GOD. When and how did God touch your life?

By the way, how do you spend the Sabbath? Do you ever find yourself doing things that do not give joy to you on a Sunday? Then stop it, if you possibly can. However, if you find your heart filled with joy with your Sunday activities AND you feel closer to God when you are enjoying whatever you are doing, then continue! The Sabbath is for rejuvenation, refreshment, re-creation, and healing and FIRST worship most of all.

We will find ourselves “rising to a new day!” From Isaiah God speaks, “. . .then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. . . . If you call the sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, . . . then you shall take delight in the Lord.” Amen

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