15 July 2011

Home from Higher Things: Coram Deo (Bloomington)

It was a great week, and an exhausting one.  I can't even begin to imagine how the staff do it who attend all three conferences!!!  I was honored to serve as chaplain for this conference, and it was great having a bunch of St. Paul youth there (Hannah, Erin, Elizabeth, Caleb, Sarah, Johanna and Veronica).   We had over 1200 at this conference.  They gathered for Eucharist on Tuesday and Friday, and then generally Matins, Vespers (afternoon service), and Evening Prayer each day, with Compline prayed together in the dorms.  Here's my homily from this morning's Matins on Isaiah 42:7-9 and 1 Peter 2:1-12:

Homily for Friday Matins

Your mommy told you:  Be nice and share.  And you didn't like it one little bit.  It gave you pain as a little one to see someone else having joy with what you thought was yours.  They shouldn't have that joy.  That joy is YOURS alone.  And so you demanded your own back and pouted in the corner if you didn't get it.  Original sin.

How unlike us in our "that's mine; you fork it back over.  NOW" is our Jesus.  With Him the joy is in sharing what's His.  You heard in today's readings.

In Isaiah, the Lord who creates everything is the Giver.  "who gives breath to the people on the earth and spirit to those who walk in it."  He created us in order to share with us what was His - Life.  And we blew it.  Big time.  We rejected that life and ended up then prisoners in a dungeon.  Nasty place, dungeons.  Dark.  Stinky.  Deadends.  But the Lord who delighted to give you breath and bring you earthly life isn't going to leave you sitting in the dungeon.  His love for you is bigger than that.  He wants to share more with you than mere earthly life (even though that is also a good gift He gives).  So He gives Jesus, His Son, to be a Servant to His people, One who will be light for the gentiles who live in darkness.  One who will open eyes that are blinded and bring the prisoners out of those nasty dungeon chambers - out into the light.

In the old days, that was Baptism's name:  the enlightenment.  It's the moment when Jesus forks over to you everything that is His.  On His cross, He took everything that was yours - all your sin, all your death - and He owned as His.  Stood before the Father, Coram Deo, the biggest sinner in the world:  from Adam forward.  He owned it all and paid for it all.  He shared what was yours.  There was a cup of divine wrath, brimming to the full, and that was what you chose every time you sin.  Eternal death.  He took that cup from His Father's hand that was rightfully yours to drink, and down the hatch it went.  Every last bit.  Till He handed it back to the Father with His "It's finished."  But if you think salvation stops there - some sort of get out of hell free card - you have a surprise coming.  It wasn't only that He took what's yours and drained that wrath, it was all so that He could fork over to you what is His.  A chalice of overflowing blessing.

So in 1 Peter 2 - out goes the stuff He bore for you (all the malice, the fraud, the pretend religion and the refusal to share and delight in your neighbor).  That's old stuff.  Dead.  Left behind.  He feeds you with a word - pure spiritual milk - and by it your get to grow up into salvation.

If only we had time to explore that a bit.  You see, He's given you the whole salvation.  It's all yours.  And it doesn't grow in you - you grow up into it.  There's always more gift.  He's given you everything that's His - even after one or two eternities, you'll still be finding more joy and gift than you can even begin to imagine.  He's got no limits on His giving - and everything that's His is yours.  "Taste and see that the Lord is good."

So He's a living stone (oh, he was rejected by men - stupid is as stupid does), but in the sight of God - coram Deo - chosen and precious!  What's His is yours - true for Him, true for you!  "You like living stones are being built (you don't build yourself - He does the work!) up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood (He a priest, you a priest!) to offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Only in Jesus does God accept the sacrifice, but in Him, the Father delights in what you offer - and the only thing you have left to offer (since He took care of the sin sacrifice) is to stand before God, coram Deo, and belt out the joyous praise - and then to go out and be of service to your neighbor.

Poor world - doesn't have a clue what it's here for.  Thinks it's all about "he who dies with the most toys wins."  So heaping up more and more.  More pleasure, more stuff.  That's life.  Yawn.  Or worse - thinking its all about doing enough so that God will be nice to you on the day of judgment.  Fat chance with that one.

You know better.  You know what you're here for:  you've been created by God and into you He has breathed life.  People who used to live in a dungeon, but who were liberated, cannot but sing praises and glorify the One who burst open the door, broke the chains and brought them out as a totally free gift - not only freeing them from jail, but brought them to His house - said:  "Make yourself at home.  My daddy, your daddy.  My feast, your feast.  My stuff, your stuff.  All yours.  All free.  Just because.  I LIKE to share!  It's what floats my boat."

And when we think about it all, we can't help but stand before Him and say:  "We praise you, O God, we acknowledge You to be the Lord."  So enough yaking.  On your feet, people loved by God, and let's do what He died and rose again to share with us:  the joy of singing praise to Father, to Son, and to Holy Spirit - now and to the ages of ages.  Amen.


Melanie said...

My kids are still talking about your sermon, Pastor Weedon. It left a wonderful mark on them.

It was a pleasure to meet you!

Melanie Timmerman

William Weedon said...

Likewise, Melanie. I'm glad the sermon helped them rejoice in their Jesus!