Reformation Sunday…a day in our Church year that reminds us of the Reforming actions of God, which actually seems to be God’s ongoing ongoing work for humanity…
After all, way back before Jesus, God spoke to Abraham and Sarah, saying “lets give a new start to my relationship with those I have created…”
And then over time, people, as people do, began to un-form, or mis-form…So God in Reformation called prophets to tell of correction courses, to tell the people, “return to the Lord your God, who is filled with mercy…”
And then, God again saw to “give those I have created a new way to see relationship with me,” and so through the birth of God’s son as human infant, gave a way for the world so often violent and threatening to see that the love of God is gentle and re-forming of individuals, families, humanity, Church …
And since then—God’s stayed in the business of re-forming.
For, people in our humanness continue to un-form that which God provides, or to dis-listen to God while listening more to self or others…
and to dis-miss that God intends for us good relationship with God and one another.
And so, on Reformation Sunday each year we commemorate one of the times of God’s reforming, to see more clearly God’s continuing reformations for us, in us, to us, as individuals and as Church.
In 1517…499 years ago…
A guy named Martin Luther was a priest wanting desperately to dedicate his life to God, but in deep despair could see no way that he could ever be good enough to satisfy God.
….instead he saw all he did, all he couldn’t do, and all he didn’t do….and felt himself sinner without worth before God in this life, without hope of rest from fear.
And then, Luther found himself reading, re-reading, and reading again the words of the Apostle Paul…since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24they are now justified by his grace as a gift.
What?! Made right with God
by Gift of God?!?!?!
WHAT? Its not anything I do? Its not my work or my pattern of life or some glorious harmony that I can achieve? Nope.
Gift of God---grace of God, glory of God!
Release by God from thinking there is some need to or some way to perfectly satisfy God; release by God into realizing God’s care and desire to be in good relationship with us is simply gift, given from God, which seeks to re-form us into wanting to encounter God, knowing we can do so without fear of missing some rung of a never ending ladder.
Well, each Reformation Sunday, what then are the Bible texts we hear? Ones filled with words some lots of folks today wish we’d just quit talking about: sin. Some churches today even drop the liturgy of confession andand absolution—thinking folks will hear it as a downer, so its easier to just drop it completely.
A preacher I heard recently told part of her own story of thinking on sin and confession and absolution….she’d grown up with a conservative Christian upbringing—and dropped away from that, partly because it always made everyone feel bad, and critical of themselves and one another. Then at about age 26, she “landed in a Lutheran church on a Sunday morning.” The preacher, Nadia, said that first experience of confession and especially absolution of sin felt like hogwash. After all, she didn’t cheat on her taxes or spouse or murder or steal; so why spend any time hearing about others who did, and anyway, if someone did those things, how could they be absolved of it? Hogwash.
But Nadia wasn’t done with thinking about God, or done with the Lutheran Church. Now she is Rev. Nadia Bolz -Weber out in Denver, with all her tattoos intact and what might seem a wild and crazy style of ministry to all kinds of folks from all sides of the tracks. And she plunges into talking about sin, confession and absolution in worship, saying this:
Martin Luther back in 1517 had a way of talking about sin, and his words help us know sin is way bigger than simply immoral actions—its more about how we each curve in on our self, substituting as center and determiner of life our own self rather than God and leaving God outside the curve.
Pastor Nadia says “my ideals and values never make me always do what I should, feel what I should, think what I should.”
…and that is what Lutheran Christians name as the Law.
But this Law is not like civil law which we can obey or not…this is Law already within us…and through this God, as Paul says, reveals our sin to us. Our sin being, again, our curving in around our own importance and our own ability to be what we should be…
Sin? No wonder no wants to dig into it or even hear about it.
Deep within we know
just HOW short we fall from the glory of God,
and we just KNOW we should do something about it all,
or else, we think….God will give up on us.
But wait…since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24they are now justified by his grace as a gift
And back in 1517, Luther believed it, and shared what he found !
God’s grace is a gift. And so Luther found he no longer accepted what the church at the time taught: that people had to do work to get back into God’s good grace.
See, what then as now we often hear or think is that to satisfy God you have to buy your way out of something or someplace…except, in truth, you aren’t trapped anywhere.
“in Christ we are now justified by God’s grace as a gift” means there is no place we are trapped to buy our way out of, no fear to keep us stuck looking out for own self interest in fear.
Gosh, … I don’t know…
Maybe Pastor Nadia can help
We think like we’re given a Law that is an “if-then” proposition –
If you follow all the rules in the Bible
then God will love you and you will be happy.
If you say just the right thing, then you will be worthy to be loved.
If you think just right, then God will accept you.
But the Gospel, God’s good news is so different…
Its not about if / then…
it is all about because because because because.
Because God is our creator;
because we try to be God for ourselves,
because when God had had quite enough God became human in Jesus Christ to show us who God really is
because God still would not be deterred
because God went so far as to hang from the cross we built and did not lift a finger to condemn , saying forgive them they know not what they are doing;
because Jesus Christ defeated even death and the grave and rose on the 3rd day and because we all sin and fall short and forever think it is we who can make the difference
and because God loves God’s creation
God refuses for our sin and brokenness and inability to always do the right things to be the last word
because God came to save and not to judge
because of God you are saved by grace as a gift and not by the works of the law that stack up shoulds against us….and this truth sets you free
And Because of God, we give thanks to God.
Trinity Lutheran Church, midway between Grand Marais and Grand Portage along Lake Superior's North Shore invites you to Worship; it is here that we celebrate the power of God among us who creates, heals, forgives, inspires
9:00 a.m. Sunday morning—be in worship to Celebrate the good news of God’s great love in Christ Jesus, and God’s defeat of death!
6:30 p.m. Wednesday Evening -- a quiet 30 minute service of psalms, songs, hymns, and times of silence for contemplation and prayers..
Located at 4957 E. Highway 61, Hovland, MN 55606 midway between Grand Marais, MN and the Canadian Border our phone # is 218-475-2439; Pastor Kris Garey has been our Pastor for almost 12 years.
Worship is central to who we are and how we strive to meet live-out our Mission in Christ; here we celebrate the power of God among us who creates, heals, forgives, inspires
SUNDAY JUNE 24 5th Sunday of Pentecost:
Job 38:1-11 The creator of earth and sea
Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32 You stilled the storm and silenced the waves of the sea. (Ps. 107:29)
2 Corinthians 6:1-13 Paul’s defense of his ministry
Mark 4:35-41 Christ calming the storm
Upcoming on Trinity's calendar of Mission in Christ:
Each year we provide quilts for Cook County High School graduates who live in Hovland. June 24, we will be inviting God's blessing for quilts for 4 graduates who live in the Hovland area. The quilts will be delivered soon; finding a Sunday that worked for the graduates to join us proved difficult this year. Thanks to those who sewed the quilts and prayed for the graduates as they did so. We will also lead Worship at the Cook County Care Center, and enjoy fellowship with the residents (12:30 - 1:45 p.m.)
July 7and 8, Hovland Art Festival the Art Festival features many local and regional artists and crafts-folk. At Trinity, we help support the Art Festival by serving lunch from 11 - 3 on Saturday, 11 -2 on Sunday. Proceeds are used for our many ministries and for our new addition. Each year we join the fun https://www.facebook.com/hovlandartsfestival.
August 12, 2018 DEDICATION SUNDAY -- We will have a festive Sunday of Worship and Fellowship; please join us as we Dedicate our new space and remodeling, built so that we may serve Christ more widely by serving others more widely.
Christmas Eve Texts:
Gospel: Luke 2:1-14 [15-20]
God’s greatest gift comes as a baby in a manger. Angels announce the “good news of great joy” and proclaim God’s blessing of peace.
1In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Sermon, Oct 12, 2017Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14 Jesus tells a parable indicating that the blessings of God’s kingdom are available to all, but the invitation is not to be taken lightly.
1Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ 5But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ 10Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. 13Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Preaching 10 12 17 Matthew 22:1-14
Showing up without the wrong robe over your clothes gets you kicked out? And not only kicked out, but into the darkness.
That seems – downright nasty!
What the heck was Jesus intending when he told this parable?
Who would ever accept another invitation if getting kicked out into the outer darkness was the outcome for not showing up with the right attire?
maybe this parable has nothing to do with fabric or style or choice of color—in fact, maybe this parable has zippo to do with clothing at all.
But maybe it has everything to do with invitation, repeated and repeated…and then extended out beyond those who would have thought themselves ones who could expect to be invited to suddenly meaning inviting everyone standing in the streets to a banquet feast for all—
Well, then there’d be no telling who might show up, or what they’d be wearing…except
I don’t think this parable has anything to do with a clothing.
But it does have to do with the most frequently used word in the parable,
Invited. Invitation. Invite.
Invitation to being gathered in…included…gathered in…
Maybe the invitation carries with it an invitation not just to a banquet, but to going into a changing room. Well, except, it isn’t about clothing…so…what is going on?
It starts out, remember, with folks who had been invited choosing not to come.
And after a second invitation, they want so much to just keep on with life as they are used to it, that they thumb their nose at the inviter, ignoring that he has prepared with great deliberation a rich banquet…and to top off the insult, the non-attending invitees kill some of those who had brought the invitation.
But the invitations still don’t cease.
This is where the parable of Jesus can get so hard to figure out—
for all of a sudden the king in the parable has the city burned by troops, but at the same time is having his servants going into the main intersections of the city streets, still intent on invitation. And who gets invited? Everyone they come across, both the really good folks, and the really wicked folks.
Whew. Couldn’t we just spend time with the Old Testament reading from Isaiah today?
Where we hear that God is, “a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress…”
Well we could find refuge there, but
then we’d miss out on exploring this absurd parable of Jesus…
And we’d miss out on what Matthew is pointing us to about Jesus. See, Matthew wrote about 50 – 60 years after Jesus life, death, and resurrection and ascension;
And by the time Matthew was writing the city of Jerusalem was burned, and the Temple of God had been destroyed by troops of the Roman Empire.
And now, Matthew and the group of people Matthew was with in faith were trying to make sense of life as they knew it. And they found themselves at odds
Over what it means to follow Jesus.
And who following Jesus changes us to be
when we become clothed not in our own clothing
but in Christ.
So Matthew looked at this parable of Jesus with the eyes of one
Experiencing the parable…
Just as we so often interpret the parables and life and death and resurrection of Jesus with eyes of our experience…
Which we need to do,
for all of Jesus is about our own life and our own life times…
But we also need to know that Matthew tells the parable with particular angle—just as Luke tells the same parable but with a slightly different emphasis.
The king still sends messengers out and as in Matthew, the first invitations are ignored,
But in Luke the messengers are told, “go out at once and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame”
Oh my…in those times, those would have been the last invited let alone included anywhere—if they ever would have been invited at all.
So the clothing that the one man at the end of the parable is wearing isn’t the problem.
For the all at the intersections would have included the poor and the blind and the lame and all those others filling up the banquet hall at the last moment wouldn’t even have had a change of clothing—and whether in Matthew or Luke, many of those invitees who finally showed up would have no robe to change into….
So maybe, in Jesus’ parable that seems about a person with the wrong clothing,
Jesus is telling invitation, banquet, God's grace—and how we are to let it change us!
Maybe the parable was trying to help people see
Be clothed in Christ,
and be changed.
In faith in Christ we are to let ourselves be changed.
We are to let ourselves be different.
So that we ourselves and
those who see us
we are not to doing of our own choosing,
but of the choosing of Christ--
and then we are to let ourselves be the gentleness of Christ being made known to everyone.
We are to see our hearts and minds set not on what we want,
But on what Christ commands
and are in Christ to be guarded by the peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding
so that we can open up the banquet halls of our lives to all.
Maybe that was the clothing the man at the banquet
decided not to put on.
Maybe those are the clothes that we at times
do not dress ourselves in—maybe we just hang on to our own wants of how to be, who to be.
God’s grace comes to us in Jesus
and Jesus came to us that we might allow ourselves
to see all people as those who receive invitation…
So that we can extend gentleness in Christ
peace in Christ…
beyond where we would imagine ourselves doing.
Sound familiar, like a parable?
Go back to simple invitation and big meaning:
And go back to Isaiah…for from scripture we learn the deeper meaning of scripture…
Christ who is our bread of life, who feeds us with forgiveness and love and understanding knew these words of Isaiah…
“The Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food….and will wipe away the tears from all faces….
This is the Lord for whom we have waited, let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Or as St. Paul puts it: 4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Go out into the world, people of God, sent with the gentle absurdity of the good news of God in Jesus. Feast on Christ in communion with one another, for you each and all are invited to the banquet Jesus has prepared. Rejoice in the Lord.
Let us pray, “Clothe us anew in you, O Christ. Open us to being changed, give us gentleness, remind us you are near.” Amen.
Preaching Holy Trinity Sunday, June 11, 2017
Preaching Holy Trinity Sunday, June 11, 2017
- Genesis 1:1--2:4a The creation of the heavens and the earth
- Psalm 8 How majestic is your name in all the earth! (Ps. 8:1)
- 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 Paul’s farewell to the church at Corinth
- Matthew 28:16-20 Living in the community of the Trinity
It is Holy Trinity Sunday ! Our church’s namesake day,
For Father, Son, and Spirit of God are part of the rock and wood of our building
And are primary to life and to our life together in faith…
I just have to tell you something I found out, and it relates to God, and to
something I learned in elementary and high school,
of all things, colors…
because I’d heard a comment about how many colors the human eye can sometimes perceive…
and that it varies from person to person…
and it turns out that the three primary colors I’d learned of in school,
red and yellow and blue
with shadings, varieties,
can become thousands of hues and tints
All from three
sometimes you can feel the color difference—
you see, for different dyes can give a different feel to thread or paper or wood…
From three, then, a multitude of appearances and feels…
Thousands of possibilities…
So from three primary colors, who knows how many possibilities…
So much more than we imagine with our humanness…
Its Holy Trinity Sunday !
The Holy Trinity of God that is Three but is One…
That is Three all in One
And is One which without Three is not fully One…
Yet how fine
That God would choose
To be to us, Three
So we see
There is interaction intrinsic to God
By the three mysteries of Father Son and Spirt
We come to know that God’s interacting self
does not separate into distinct columns or pages or single colors…
for God is always One, Always Three…
And the interacting weavings of God are endless…
So I got to thinking,
About three …
And a picture came to mind, of
A Russian sleigh pulled by three sturdy horses across
A troika it is called, and it flies across snow filled frozen forests and fields…
Because of Three, pulling together…
And another photo came to mind, from long ago, of a team of three sled dogs,
Bringing mail and folks and goods
up the narrow trails of Cook County
And then to mind came children, jumping rope, three needed:
two at either end of twirling ropes, one who at the right moment
skips into the ropes and jumps
then jumps out of the ropes and switches with one of the twirlers, without the ropes ever stopping…..
and then I thought of here, at Trinity Lutheran…
and three -
People in the kitchen
Doin up the dishes
Ones hauls the water
One washes carefully
One dries thoroughly
Three enjoy mightily
Chatter, chores, and
choosing Time to be together
And then I thought of three travelers,
Three journeying across hills towards Bethlehem
Three Wisemen Who Came to see a babe in cradle small within a cattle stall
And then somehow,
From three to four we go,
For God’s word God sends out
to all of north and east and west and south
and then to numbers more and more
for God saying let there be light, and let there be sky and let there be water and let there be earth and vegetation and living creatures and let there be human kind made in our image…
and God keeps on speaking…saying…
Let us in Triune unity create anew each day
And so it was that we too are born
To be with one another
To worship with each other
To grieve with each other
To support one another
To hold one another
To rely on one another
To call out to one another
To invite new each others …and say
Over on your side of the mountain
Who is there
On your side of the ocean
Who is there
On your side of the forest , who?
To Join in with us, in this day…
Mimicking in our little human way
God’s Holy Trinity calling out to us…
in forest on ocean or on far-off coast
on mountain side or mountain top or far off mountain dream
to you, God says, I call
I, one as God of God, Spirit of God, Son of God
Am Three in One, One in Three
Call to you…
Am Holy Trinity
Am three in one, one in three
And in this United Threeness Trinune Trinity
So That the divine Trinity of God presence, holy by essence
As Creator redeemer sustainer
known to you, is Holy to you.
Ahhh….God gives to us…
And the surprise
That more than sun
Of light is seen or warmth is felt…
More than night of cooling air and darkness for sleep is known
God is Present…
And all creation
More astute than us mere human ones
That we are within the Presence of God
The One who is three
Who is Primary to all of Life…
And gives us reason
More than all else
To nod in mystery and say to God, who is with us always..it is good, and to proclaim…
O Lord, Our Lord, How majestic is your name … Amen.
Preaching Easter 2017
John 20:1-18 Seeing the risen Christ;
Acts 10:34-43 God raised Jesus on the third day
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Clossians 3:1-4 Raised with Christ to seek the higher things
It is Easter morning !
Lovely morning day when, even when, as today, clouds across the sky are cast…
First light shows forth and reminds us
This is a day that the Lord has made…let us rejoice and be glad !
For even when sun behind the clouds remains
The day has come, dark of night is done, light has penetrated shut up mind and eye…
How is it told in the Gospel of John?
Mary Magdalene, early on the morning of the day of the week after Jesus had been crucified,
while it was still dark…hardly able to see except to rerun again and again
what her eyes had taken in the days before:
crucifixion scenes that would terrify and haunt and keep awake the most stalwart of minds…
yet this morning, fatigued and worn, Mary Magdalene, in the dark of a morn after Jesus had been crucified to shouting taunts from voices that may have continued to jeer as Jesus lifeless body was taken down, rolled in cloth, sealed away
in tomb so strong that it would hold away from life
even sight of the body that when alive
had seemed to bring to Light of Life itself.
For Mary Magdalene, in the hardly-any-light time of day, what sad courage would have been needed, to move toward what would enforce and reinforce
the gravest loss of hope,
so to stand beside where Jesus lay, not only dead, but in tomb, with even body lost to sight.
Or else why in early dark go out
before light the horizon opened up?
Did she hope to find in that before dawn dark
a respite from the vacantness of purpose that threatened to banish even breath?
Only to find, in that dark, that not only life was vacant, but so too was tomb: for it wherein had the lifeless body of The Lord been lain…was open …empty, now even more cruel.
What more she did now bear:
Not only a grave, but a grave now robbed: and with body gone, no place to stand beside …
Dear Mary Magdalene…
Now must take on another role: to go and bear hard news to others, who too no doubt cry out in redoubled pain…”they have not only stolen his life, but now stolen his lifeless form as well?!?”
But coming back to the tomb, Mary with
Peter and the other disciple,
Tomb empty AND
wrappings that around the body of Jesus had been placed,
unwound, left behind, rolled up, placed aside…
Who to dishonor would steal not only body, but as well remove wrappings that had covered grievous scarring wounds?
And so for deepest emptiness of life, the pre-dawn three mistook the empty tomb…
The two disciples? They walked away, thinking that only to themselves could they dare to go…
Yet Mary Magdalene, we are told, by the tomb did stay
Thinking to find
where the body of what had been the best of life was now hidden away…
She hears her name
And hearing, begins to see that
Worst-dark for all time was ending
For True Light of life in Christ had arisen--
All earth and life that day did change!
Mary, that morning bright on seeing the Risen Jesus, no longer dead, no longer held in tomb, no longer held in wrappings nor death that would disguise
Hears Word of God, and begins to see: in Jesus God changes all of life.
Mary found life anew within that morning light
When dawn had opened to reveal
Empty tomb was gift;
And was not simply vacant emptiness that satan could steal into to pretend to bury mercy, goodness, life…
But empty tomb opens up new light, defeating satans wily ways,
And God who gives stars that rise each night
and sunlight which breaks apart the dark and
blue horizon where earth meets sky and gives us breath for life and day…
Gives us now God’s love for us to be known by us -- for Jesus has taken hold of us…
And from within what looked an empty tomb
filled life with Promise of Life to Come
And of Life Today,
in this day, whether we awake in dusk or dawn, walk in joy of finding or sorrow of losing,
For God in Jesus gives us Resurrection Life after death—
so that our tombs as well do not hold us—
and God in Jesus gives us also this:
Jesus in this life, speaking our name…God’s gift coming to us NOW…
For we by Christ can claim our freedom NOW from fear of hell and death and even of what comes in life…
Jesus does not ask us to cling only to some future hope,
But to God’s love right now…each now…
That we too can announce, in this life, to others, and to our self…
YES I HAVE SEEN THE LORD
We humans, we often imagine the empty tomb is empty for one purpose:
that we might in some distant heaven time find our place…where we will see the Lord…
but there is this for us as for Mary Magdalene:
Life is changed…light has come, even on the days when the light is clouded oer’…even days when dark seems strong … we in Christ look up and see the Lord, and say to self, and through living, to others:
I have seen the Lord…
And Each TODAY, each MOMENT, each NOW…
the Holy Spirit helps us see the glory of the risen Son…
This is a day that the Lord has made…
Lovely morning day when, even when, as today,
clouds across the sky are cast…
First light shows forth and reminds us
This is a day that the Lord has made…let us
with Mary Magdalene, with Peter, with all who have gone before us,
and with all who will follow, proclaim Christ has Risen, he has risen indeed.
We see the Lord, in this very day !
Eyeglasses –I can’t remember what grade I was in when eyeglasses entered my life—maybe it was third grade.
My teacher, Mr. Klein, noticed that I wasn’t doing as well at I had at the beginning of the year. Thinking I just wasn’t paying attention, he moved me from the last row, way to the front. Ick. There I was, out of order, as classmates told me: your ast name “begins with an R, don’t you know our names all start with A and B. You don’t belong here.”
Bad enough—but then there re-figuring out who was distracting, who wanted to pass notes, who whispered funny stuff, who not so nice stuff, who picked on who, who acted up when the teacher was writing on the board. Worse, I couldn’t figure out why I was the only one moved. My folks thought maybe I’d misbehaved, or that I really wasn’t not paying attention. The other kids thought maybe I’d been caught cheating, or wasn’t doing homework.
But it was none of that—I just needed to see better. At some point that year Mr. Klein, because he could now see me bettere, noticed I was always squinting at the board, even from the front row.
Told I’d be getting glasses---knowing I’d be made fun of, and didn’t believe something sitting on my face would help me see, I dreaded the day.
Then came the day, and my Mom took me to get them. They felt so icky on my face. I was sure the clinic staff lied when telling me, “oh those look nice on you.” Walking to the car, I looked down the whole way, so no one would see my face with glasses. As we drove home along our familiar route, I finially looked out the window, and said with a loud voice, “hey Mom look –there are individual leaves on the trees, not just blobs of green, I’ve never seen them here before.” Of course, my mom started crying ..and even pulled over, telling me years later she’d felt terrible that no one had n oticed before that my vision was working right. But those first days I couldn’t stop noticing and exclaiming, “look over there, you can see that from here; look! I can see the the name of that street from here and know from this far away what it says.”
I’d been seeing before, knowing there were green leaves on trees, words on the blackboard, street signs with names, but I hadn’t been seeing what was there to be seen.
Today, however, isn’t about eyeglasses, its about being a Christian, a disciple of Christ, a learner in the classroom of Jesus, a follower who is looking out from within oneself and seeing differently.
Its about seeing not through eyeglasses, but through God and through faith in Christ.
Remember Namaan, the army commander for the King of Aram, conquorers of the Jewish people in ancient Israel. Namaan was certain he saw what he needed—but his vision of what he needed was off by miles. So when he saw his flesh restored from disease, he found himself saying, “Now I know there is no God in all the earth except the God of Israel…” quite a statement for someone from Aram where multiple gods were worshipped, and having only God would make you suspect of bringing problems for the community. But Namaan now saw differently.
Remember Paul, the apostle? He himself had not seen Jesus in the flesh, was blinded, then given sight again and saw life and all time and God differently—so that when he was a chained prisoner Paul saw this: the word of God is never chained, never prevented from being effective. He’d been given a new way to see not only leaves on trees, but God and the world and all others.
Remember the one leper, whose disease meant separation from all except others with visible diseases of the flesh? As he went on his way, he looked down, and seeing himself changed, healed from had made him isolated, he saw life made new, saw differently, and saw Jesus as the source of being wholly alive, and now, saw existence wholly differently, and turned back to fall at the feet of Jesus.
Seeing differently, is given to us, dear friends, as well. Faith in Christ is not to simply make us feel good, it is to help us see in ways that aren’t like what we’d come to our own.
It means letting God putting new eyeglasses on us, even if the world thinks they make us look weird, or act or speak in ways that are not the norm for society, or even make us different than we’ve usually been.
Looking back, we can see ancient writings of faith that caution us to n ot stay stuck in our own ways of thinking and seeing, noting how we like to see things as we are, not as God is. Seeing as we’d rather be, than being as God would see us be. And Origen of Alexandria who was a Christian in the first century after Christ, a time of great persecution for followers of Jesus, said “holiness is seeing with the eyes of Christ.” Modern writer Robert Barron says it this way: Christianity is, above all, a way of seeing. Everything else in Christian life flows from and circles around the transformation of our vision.”
So we who claim Christ as the ground beneath our feet and the one at whose feet we kneel will, maybe with a sigh of reluctance, put on the lenses that change how we see …and be willing to ask Jesus to heal us from only seeing only as we like to see. And in Jesus, who transforms our vision, we w ill see new ways of seeing, and prayer, worship, action, way of being in the world, and we will look down and see! We too are made whole, and then may not recognize ourselves!
So there were 10 lepers.
Crying out to Jesus for mercy.
And Jesus said in a sort of short hand at the time, “you’re in the process of being made whole, go and show yourself to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean.
But one, SEEING that he was healed, turned back to Jesus, praising God with a loud voice.
You see, “Christianity is, above all, a way of seeing.” That’s how my friend Pastor Brian Stoffregren puts it. “Everything else in our Christian life flows from and circles around the transformation God in Christ makes in our way of seeing….and so we see differently, and are seen differently. For our lives, in Christ, flow not from our own decidings, but from Jesus of Nazareth, who gives us a new vision of what God is up to, in all of creation.
And others, even when we don’t know it is happening,
begin to see us, and then begin to see,
even when they don’t know it,
Jesus, who has mercy and wholeness for all.
Thanks be to God.
Pastor Kris Garey
Christ the King Sunday