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8/7/2022 Sermon

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Luke 12:32-40 New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

35 “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36 be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes during the middle of the night or near dawn and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

39 “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Morning Dedication (The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett)

Almighty God, As I cross the threshold of this day I commit myself, soul, body, affairs, friends, to thy care; Watch over, keep, guide, direct, sanctify, bless me. Incline my heart to thy ways; Mold me wholly into the image of Jesus, as a potter forms clay;

May my lips be a well-tuned harp to sound thy praise; Let those around see me living by thy Spirit, trampling the world underfoot, unconfirmed to lying vanities, transformed by a renewed mind, clad in the entire armor of God, shining as a never-dimmed light, showing holiness in all my doings.

Let no evil this day soil my thoughts, words, hands. May I travel miry paths with a life pure from spot or stain. In needful transactions let my affection be in heaven, and my love soar upwards in flames of fire, my gaze fixed on unseen things, my eyes open to the emptiness, fragility, mockery of earth and its vanities.

May I view all things in the mirror of eternity, waiting for the coming of my Lord, listening for the last trumpet call, hastening unto the new heaven and earth.

Order this day all my communications according to thy wisdom, and to the gain of mutual good. Forbid that I should not be profited or made profitable. May I speak each word as if my last word, and walk each step as my final one. If my life should end today, let this be my best day.

This morning our scripture weaves together two themes: “Do not be afraid,” and “Be ready.”

“Do not be afraid.” We know that when angels visit heralding unexpected and unlikely news those are often the first words spoken.

Why do they say, “Do not be afraid.”? There are at least two possible reasons. They are offering words of comfort because you are seeing or hearing an other-worldly being, and because there is plenty going on in the world of which to be afraid.

Do not be afraid of the Roman Government and the unequal power dynamics that marginalized those of the Jewish faith, those that were sick or lame, the poor, women of any age, orphans. One had reason to be afraid if they were not part of the power structure or protected by someone in the power structure.

Unless one put their faith in God. Unless one put their faith in Jesus of Nazareth who lit a new pathway to God.

His followers experienced fear because he was killed, mercilessly. Faith instructs us to fear not, because his death changed everything.

Luke’s message was wait, watch, be ready. He will return and bring new life and hope where there was once death and destruction. What should Luke’s listeners not be afraid of? Do not be afraid to give away what has been given them. Whatever you give you will get back – not in earthly or monetary terms but as treasure in heaven, or as riches in one’s heart.

Luke advises, be ready for Jesus Christ to return. Be ready as the servants are ready for their master to return from the wedding banquet – alert and awake – ready to open the door when he knocks. In those days, there were traditionally two wedding banquets. The first was in the bride’s hometown for her family. The second was in the groom’s hometown. Each wedding celebration typically lasted a week or more, thus the groom’s servants did not know exactly when to expect the wedding party to arrive. They had to be ready for unknown hours or days on end.

Being ready for Christ to come can be anticipated in more than one way. We can be fearful or we can be hopeful. Is Christ coming to punish or to bless? I come down firmly on the side of blessing.

An example? Yesterday’s Annual Church Fair. It took untold days, weeks, even months of preparation. We were ready!

The Spirit of God was surely in our midst yesterday. Maybe in one special person that you met. More likely in everyone you met. Did you recognize Christ in our midst?

Did you sense his presence in the myriad children wearing paint on their faces to show their joyfulness on the outside?

Did you see him in the people of all ages that decorated our mural? Perhaps Jesus was in the loving faces, and caring hands that served your food, that sold you books and games and puzzles, that helped you find yard sale and second-time-around treasures, sold you plants, and jewelry, and baked goods, that sold you lemonade and painted children’s faces.

He was certainly in the people on the receiving end of all that love and kindness.

We have so much to be thankful for. Both for having Christ in our midst and for recognizing Christ in our midst, in both the familiar and unfamiliar people that were all around us.

We were ready. Christ knocked and we opened the door to community. We served and were served.

Verse 34 of our Luke passage tells us, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

My treasure is in this community. In all of you and in our neighbors from near and far. That is where my heart is. It is rich with God. It is rich with each one of you.

Amen Rev. TJ Mack – August 7, 2022

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