Living in Faith

Sermon Reflection from Sunday, August 11 2019 | Respectfully submitted by Mal Underwood

On this ninth Sunday after Pentecost Mo. Mary blessed us with a powerful message on the requirements and blessings of living into our faith in God.  She opened with a story of a man on the street running past a church and shouting “I am Jesus”.  When a member of the congregation reported to the pastor that Jesus was coming, he replied “look busy”!  In the remainder of her sermon Mo. Mary explained why we are called to much more than looking busy in the eyes of our Creator.

Our faith is more than meaningless offerings, useless celebrations, and pointless rituals.  In the lesson from Isaiah, God speaks to the rulers and people of Sodom and Gomorrah telling them that they have blood on their hands and he is not interested in their burnt offerings, blood offerings, new moons, festivals, and incense.  He can no longer endure solemn assemblies with iniquity.  Instead, God says they are to wash themselves clean and cease to do evil, learn to do good, seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, and plead for the widow.  If they obey God’s will, he promises the scarlet stains of their sin will become pure as snow.

In the Gospel reading from Luke, Jesus says “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Mo. Mary reminds us that our heart clings to that which we value – our treasure comes first, then our hearts follow. Just as in the Isaiah passage where God exhorts the people to do good, seek justice and help those in need, our works of faith lead us to a deeper awareness of the people and circumstances we desire to improve.  If we love feeding the hungry or sheltering the homeless, we become more aware, sensitive, and better equipped to ease the suffering of those we wish to help.

As written in the lesson from Hebrews, faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.  What does God want us to hope for?  Love, eternal life, mercy, forgiveness, healing, kindness, hospitality, salvation, justice and the peace of God are some of the things Mo. Mary shared as being on God’s list, and there are more.  Our call to faith and works does not promise an easy path, as no more dramatically displayed than Jesus’ life on earth.  His treasure was to love, teach, and give his life to reconcile us to the Father.  His heart followed him to the cross.

Our kingdom work is not without reward.  In the Isaiah lesson, God says “if you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.”  In Hebrews Jesus tells us God has prepared a city for the faithful.  In Luke’s gospel, Jesus says to not be afraid because it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  As faithful Christians, we have the hope of the greatest gift of all – eternal life in paradise with our Creator God.  What more could we want?