After all each of us are skeptical when we hear about people who claim to have direct conversations with God.  Too often we have heard how such people… who have claimed personal contact…and have then used this to take advantage of people… Too often we have heard how they have taken the savings people who have believed their stories.  Too often we have heard of their impropriety and deviant behavior.  So we find it hard to get too excited about stories where God get personally involved in some else’s life.  Read More Sermon

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The news stories which seem to receive the most time are filled with doom and gloom.  They cause feelings of frustration and fear.  We worry that these stories will hit closer to home and that we may be personally affected.  We are afraid that recent citizens or their children may become radicalized…we’re even afraid because youth with Canadians name who have been radicalized and killed.   We are afraid when aid workers return from places with serious health concerns…of them becoming sick and spreading it to us.  Sometimes the gloominess of the news is so burdensome and heavy…to the point that we feel prisoner to it.  Considering the news…we wonder whether things will ever change…and we wonder whether people will ever be able to live together peacefully.

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But during a certain time of my life…when I was much younger…when the old Bible was still read in church… this phrase; “Keep awake or lest he finds you sleeping”, was all that I was able to hear.  When I see imperatives like keep alert…or keep awake…or keep out…or keep still…or any command like that…I immediately associate it with a follow-up phrase beginning with “or else”.  The…or else… phrase generally means there will be are consequences for not heeding the imperative.

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Returning to the “Rule of Three” story telling tradition… The three slaves are put in similar situations by their master who has power over their destinies.  He gives each slave a sum of money…with expectations for them.  The first two do everything that is expected… They double the money and they also speak the words their master wants to hear.  But the third surprisingly does the unexpected… And not only does he do the unexpected…but he speaks offensively about his master…the one with power.  He tells the truth which the master does not want to hear.  For doing the unexpected and for saying out loud the truth about his master the third slave is punished.

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Until the king invites the people from the streets this story has only been an inaccurate comparison to the kingdom of heaven… because in the beginning he has only invites people like himself… people with power and influence.  But now at this moment the invitation becomes more like God’s invitation.  God’s Gospel and invitation is for all people…God’s invitation is for the wealthy and the powerful…but in addition it is for the poor and the sick… It is for good people who follow God’s Commandments…but it is also for bad people.  God’s Gospel and invitation is for all people… It is for all people because it is for all the people who are created and loved by God.

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“O Lord it’s hard to be humble when you are perfect in every way.”  According to his explanation Mac Davis wrote this song after he woke in the Star Suite and looked at himself in the mirror.  The lyrics speak about getting better looking each day…about how having friends would keep him from standing out in a crowd …about a girl friend who wasn’t able to compete with love starved women clamoring at his feet… Even though he says he is trying to be humble the best that he can.

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Feelings of fear put us in a strange place… They put into the future where we don’t want to be. Fear fills us with apprehension and worry… We worry about whether there will be more attacks on the people who have been chosen to keep us safe…or make the laws of our land.  We worry about how these radicals might widen their scope and begin targeting ordinary innocent people like ourselves.  We worry that this will be a continuing situation for our children and grandchildren.  We worry that our naïve innocence which we grown up with and have enjoyed will ever return.  Fear puts us into a future which is dark and foreboding.  In that dark scary place it is impossible to see our God standing beside us.

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But God desires more than just to be present with us… God does not want to be distant and arbitrary like some employers. Our God does not want us to grumble and leave looking for another God. Like Moses…our God wants a relationship with each of us. Our God also wants serious one to one conversations with us…where we talk openly and directly. Our God desires that we bring our hurts and complaints.

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Personally, I have never been very good at following rules. Invariably when there are rules I break them in some way or other. As a young lad I learned about rules…from my parents. When my mother said; “Say sorry to your brother or sister!” or “Don’t stick out your tongue!”…most times I did what was demanded…but more often than not…inside…I wasn’t really sorry. I did what was demanded because from experience I had learned that there were consequences for not.

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Sometimes positions of authority go to the heads of those who have received it. They become authoritarian and forget the role of the profession… Medical doctors are sometime dismissive of the knowledge and value of nurses. Teachers may disregard the wisdom of people with less formal education. Pastors may be critical about lay people who may wish to proclaim God’s Gospel message.

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