Sunday, November 13, 2016

Playing Our Part; Being the Light; post-election sermon on Luke 1:68-79

Rev. George Miller
Luke 1:68-79
November 13, 2016

In preparing today’s sermon I realized that we have a unique balance to present. Today we acknowledge our Veterans. Next week is Christ the King Sunday. And of course, our presidential election just took place.

November 8 is a day that will go down in history. A day in which people from all throughout the world watched to find out what would happen.

How would the election go; how would the America people vote?

The results slowly came in, but at midnight it seemed clear where things were going. It was also clear the emotions that people felt.

Some felt jubilation and pride. Some felt confusion. Others felt let down.

I felt fear- fear of what could come.

Fear that whispered in my ear “What if they come for me?”

Fear that made me mindful of what to wear as I went to bed.

If the worst was to happen, and a mob of people came to my door ready to start some mess, what was I going to look like?

I admit this kind of thinking may sound over-the-top to some. I know that some here today have no idea what I’m even talking about. I also know some here today know exactly what I mean.

If a mob was to come to my door in the middle of the night to make me an example, to embarrass, or humiliate me, what should I wear as an expression of who I am?

I opted for a t-shirt I got during Comcast Care Days, when I worked alongside newly elected Sheriff, Paul Blackman.

I wore it because it represented my care for the community and my role as a Board Member for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

I wore it because it was green, the color of life. It had the figure of a person in joyful display, and featured bright cheerful colors in the shapes of stars and leaves.

I wore it because in the back it said “Looking Forward
Giving Back.”

It represented Highlands Community, and the love and pride I have of living and pastoring here.

I was afraid, so I wore that green Comcast Cares T-shirt because in the horrible chance something did happen, and anyone tried to hurt me, they’d have to do so looking at it, and me, as a person.

Wearing that green t-shirt was for me a sign of protest, and a sign of hope.

There are many ways in which people who feel scared, upset, lost, can find hope.

Hope can come in the songs we sing. Hope can come in the stories we share. Hope can come from remembering previous times in which salvation arrived and things worked themselves out.

Hope can come from children.

Hope can also come from laughter, humor, and finding the ironies of life.

Before we get any more serious, let’s pause for a moment. Let’s allow for a time of levity. A time in which story, children, humor come into play, and offer a moment of lighthearted hope.

Who here is a fan of the TV show “Modern Family”? It’s been on for some time now, featuring one grand family that is made up of 3 distinct family units.

A common theme of the show is that of diversity; another theme is fathers and sons.

3 years ago “Modern Family” had an episode centered on Jay, the family patriarch, and his adopted 12-year-old son, Manny, who is not like other boys and certainly not like Jay.

Jay is gruff and manly; he likes to wear sweats, watch football, and drink scotch. Manny is polite and sensitive; he enjoys wearing fedoras, poetry, and drinking espresso.

So picture this- it’s the state fair and Manny enters the baking contest. He creates a confectionary replica of Los Angeles.

Jay is not happy about this. He’s worried that Manny will be teased by the other kids.

Why can’t he just enjoy things like football!

The story moves along at a sitcom pace. The cake judging is about to take place, but Manny’s cake is not there. They have 10 seconds to get it to the table.

“Don’t worry,” Manny says.

He grabs the cake, cradles it with pride, and he barrels through the crowd of people, knocking down anyone who gets in his way.

Just so happens that the football coach witnesses Manny’s strength and determination and next thing you know, Manny is on the football team as their ¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬-fullback and leads the team to their very first victory.

Jay is so proud!

Children surprise us.

Children give us hope. Children represent the days ahead. Children are the reminder that no matter what, life goes on.

Good or bad, happy or sad, jubilant or scared, children give us hope.

Though I am not yet a parent, I look forward to experiencing this first hand when I get to adopt, and to have you all right by my side.

Most fathers and sons have interesting relationships, and in today’s reading we hear the words of a Dad speaking about his son.

In the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, we meet Zechariah, a priest. One day, while in the Temple, Zechariah is visited by an angel who tells him the good news: Zechariah will have a son; the child will be called John, and he will be the reason for much joy.

But the news is tempered with a reality: as amazing as John will be, he is not to be the star player, but a precursor of what’s to come.

John will bring families back together and he will bring wisdom to the foolish, but alas, John is not going to be the MVP.

He is not going to be the quarterback of the team or the one who scores the winning touchdown. He is going to be more like the fullback, making the way for the Lord.

How did Zechariah feel about this news? He must have been amazed and perplexed: “Holy Cow there’s an angel talking to me!”

But then there’s the other part- His son will pave the way; but he will never ever, be The Way.

His son will bring great joy, but his son will not be the ultimate reason for that gladness.

Often times, when we read the Bible, we place its people on high holy-chairs. And if we know the story and how it plays out, we may become numb to the human element.

We know what Jesus is going to do; we know the lives he’ll forever transform.

But we forget that the people in these stories didn’t truly know the outcome. They couldn’t turn to chapter 24 to see how it all works out.

The people in these stories had to live through the story; they had to live through the happenings, good or bad, triumphant or sad.

We are told that Zechariah is struck mute by the angel. During his wife’s pregnancy, he is not able to speak a single word.

This time of silence must have given Zechariah a lot of time to think about things, time to ponder, time to wrestle what was and what was not to be.

His son was to be great; but not the greatest.

Would that be good enough for Zechariah? Would that do?

If this was a Shakespearean play, Zechariah would have railed against the prophecy. He would found some way, any way to make his son the star; to make his son the King.

He would have visited witches at a cauldron or got his hands on a poisoned potion or kidnapped the Christ child.

Maybe at some point, Zechariah did entertain those thoughts; but then, somehow he found the ability to…let them go.

Instead of harboring a grudge or focusing on what would never be for his son, Zechariah found a way to faithfully look ahead and embrace the promise…of what’s to come.

After his son is born, Zechariah’s speech is restored. And after giving praise to God, he speaks the words we heard today.

He speaks eloquently of what God has done and what God will do.

Zechariah acknowledges that it will be the son of Mary who will fulfill the words of the prophets, who will lead the people to victory and rescue them from their enemies.

What an amazing, humble thing to say about someone else’s child. What class, what character Zechariah shows.

Zechariah conceded that as great as his son is, there is another child that will be greater.

But I do not sense it means that Zechariah loves his own son any less, it just means that he fully understands who his son is and what he is meant to be.

His son is the one to go up ahead and to prepare the way.

His son is the one to plant the seeds of salvation and forgiveness.

He may not be the Messiah but he will be called the prophet of the Most High.

He may not be “The Son of God” but he will play a role in bringing light into the life of the people.

His feet may not be the ones that bring people over the winning goal line, but he will play his own part in guiding to victory.

And there is nothing wrong about that; and any father, anywhere, should be proud that their son could play such a role…

…Tuesday we voted in our new president. Today we have honored our Veterans. Next week is Christ the King Sunday.

Today I believe it is good for us to lift up and to remember that we are Christians. As such we follow Jesus Christ.

Today we celebrate that Jesus was more than a rabbi. More than a teacher, doctor, story-teller. More than our friend.

Today we also lift up that Christ is King in our lives.

A King who heals. A king who gathers and restores. A king who feeds the flock. A king who welcomes the wayward home.

A King who preaches and practiced forgiveness, whose strength came from the Heavenly Kingdom.

Because Christ is King, we do not have to be.

Because Christ is and forever shall be King, we don’t have to burden ourselves with tasks we were not created for or called to do.

Because Christ is King, we can focus our attention onto who we are and the best version of ourselves that we can be.

I do not believe John is the one and only person called to pave a way for the Lord.

I do not believe John is the only one who can share light with others in darkness.

We can each pave a way for the Lord in our own, special way.

We have each been blessed with our own unique spiritual gifts; we all have our own talents, ways of sharing joy, ways of being bearers of gladness.

With knowledge that Christ is King, we have the opportunity to speak words of hope, to be actors of hope, and to be team players, each doing what we know we can do the best.

In conclusion, God has always had a plan for the world.

Beginning with Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Miriam, Deborah and Gideon, continuing with people like Zechariah and his son John, that plan has continued, even when unexpected events have taken place, even when fear seems to take hold.

Christ is indeed King and in him God has a heavenly playbook and a heavenly plan.

Some of us are best at baking cakes; others as being fullbacks; some may even be able to do both.

But we each get to play our own role; we each get to share our part.

In doing so we each get to shine a light into the darkness: to have hope, to share the gift of mercy with the oppressed, joy to those who weep, and forgiveness to the broken down.

In Christ, we all get to play our role on the field, doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with our Lord, and with one another.

Amen and amen.

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