Jesus Christ The Conqueror of Death At Dachau
(From a homily on 6/10/18)
Last week in the news there were two tragic stories of people, successful by our worlds standards, deciding for their own personal reasons that they could not bear another day here. It is heart breaking that there is such sadness and lack of hope. A couple of weeks ago on our youth trip we discussed that the statistics for stress, anxiety and depression among teens are staggering. I have no doubt that these issues affect adults to the same degree. Without a doubt mental health issues are more common than we would think, and getting professional help if you are anxious or depressed is critical. Let the people around you know that you need help.
All of us suffer the implications of living in a fallen world.
Mike Cosper in his book "Recapturing the Wonder" observes that the world we live in is "disenchanted". He says:
"Perhaps to better underhand disenchantment we can look at its opposite, the "enchanted" world of a few centuries ago. In that world, men and women saw themselves as spiritual creatures, vulnerable to blessings and curses, to angels and demons, and subject to the god or gods who made and oversaw the world. This enchanted world was part of a Cosmos, an orderly creation full of meaning, a place with purposeful origin and a clear destination...full of mystery... an unseen spiritual realm is constantly at work. In disenchantment, we no longer live in a Cosmos, we live in a universe, a cold, hostile place whose existence is a big accident, where humanity is temporarily animated "stuff" that's ultimately meaningless and destined for the trash heap."
How did we get to this place of disenchantment?
In the lectionary today the first reading is from Genesis 3. We find the aftermath of Adam and Eve eating from the tree and they were in the garden hiding from God.
God had given Adam and Eve all that was good. When God realized Adam needed one of his own kind to be with him, to share life with, He created Eve. Most importantly God gave Himself, he would walk in the Garden with them. They had the blessing of being in the presence of their creator amidst the beauty of the creation. God had already given them dominion of all that He had created, but in that moment in the garden, they wanted to be like God. They traded innocence for control. They traded obedience for autonomy.
A second reading today is in 1 Samuel 8. We drop into the point in history where Israel demanded a king. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, "You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations." 1 Samuel 8:4
In verse 7 God encourages Samuel:
and the LORD said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.
Then God warned Israel of the consequences through Samuel who reported the words of the Lord to the people:
The king who reigns over you will take your sons to serve in his army
He will take your sons to work in his fields
He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers
He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards
He will take 1/10 of your harvest
He will take your slaves and the best of your cattle and donkeys
He will take 1/10 of your flocks
And You will be his slaves
Does this sound familiar? Does our world feel like this?
The struggle of man to rule himself has existed since the garden. Samuels warnings to the people of Israel hold true for us today. Kings of nations cannot bring peace, justice, life. Earthly kings seldom hear our cry, it is only the exception that is not after power, wealth, control, at any expense. These are all signs of a fallen and broken world. A disenchanted world.
I went to a concert last week. I got to see and hear an Artist I’ve loved since I was young.
Although many of her songs were made famous by others, she has had little recognition for herself. Through the evening I could hear her disappointment maybe even bitterness for lack of recognition for herself. As I listened longer I realized her songs are mostly of lost love and waiting for someone to come fix her life, save her. I remembered living that way, the excitement of new love, the certainty that there was one person out there who would make my life complete. There was a moment of sadness for the young girl I once was, and thankfulness that the One who could save me did. My yearnings for meaning and love were satisfied in Jesus.
So my prayer for this artist, and for all who have not experienced the love of Christ is that they would experience what the apostle Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 3 & 4. When we turn to the Lord the veil is removed and there is freedom. 2Co 3:18 says "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."
Because of grace given to us, the veil is removed, we see the glory of God and we are being transformed.
The light is in us for our transformation, but more importantly for God’s glory, and for the salvation of the world. Paul said:
We have the power in us that is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Not so that we can do our own will, but so that we can do the will of the Father. 2 Cor 4
What is the will of the Father?
We know this …
John 3:16 - 17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."
So having the power, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead; the Holy Spirit; we can do the will of the Father. The Father’s will is that the world might be saved. We cannot save the world, only Jesus can. We can love the world. We can be light to the world.
God did not send Jesus to condemn the world - we cannot condemn it either.
As the church are we also experiencing the subtle disinchantment that Mike Cosper talks about in his book? Are we stuck in the material world? Have we lost sight that we are of a different reality, a spiritual world?
God has removed the veil that we may receive His light, that we might be light in the world.
God has given us the HOly Spirit that we may not lose heart, we will be transformed, so that we can see what is eternal.
Our world needs us to remember who we are, whose we are.
Our world needs the love and light of Christ that flows through us.
Our world needs Gods eternal perspective that brings hope and encourages our hearts.
So Jesus invites us in,
To collapse on Him
To bring our brokenness
To receive Him, To receive the Spirit
By the power of the Spirit within us we are rescued from disenchantment. Our eyes are opened to the reality of the kingdom, here on earth, and in heaven
I had a dream a couple of weeks ago:
I was in a room with with someone I love and he was being encouraged and comforted by a group of people. Everyone moved outside for a service of some kind.
People Reach Up
We were in the country, on rock cliffs that went down to water, a river maybe A strong wind came up. I was holding hands with someone and resisted the wind. The wind was blowing people down prostrate on the rocks ledges below us - but they weren’t hurt. I felt the sense I should just give in to the wind. I knew it was the Holy Spirit. I closed my eyes and let the wind take me. At first I fell forward like I would fall on my face, then I felt it pick me up and hold me. Holding me as though I was in someones arms and felt their arm under my knees and under my shoulders. There was a sense of flying, moving quickly, a long ways. Loving it, such peace, joy, never wanting to leave, stop. Vocalizing that. But eyes closed. Slowing down. Feeling tree branches, sensing that I needed to reach out and grab the branches. No fear. I held the branches and gently floated down to earth.
Bringing his love and light to the world is:
Remembering that you once lived under the veil, and the veil was lifted.
Falling into the arms of the Spirit and going where He takes you.
Sharing your story / His story.
God has given the world the gift of the Church.
The ordinary work of the church, gathering together. Worshipping, praying, passing peace, reading the Word, the Eucharist, in each moment we receive. Sunday mornings are revolutionary in themselves. As we gather together in the power of the Holy Spirit, with Christ among us, worshipping our God, the darkness/disenchantment is pushed back. It is a declaration that this world is our Fathers, that we are our Fathers, that He will persevere until His redemption is complete. We carry that revolution out into the world with us.
The light of Christ in us, it is the light for the world.
Go out and be light, be life, share freely the grace you've been given. By the Spirit the veil will be lifted. The spell of disenchantment will be broken. There will be transformation for the glory of God.