Friday, March 04, 2005

Came and Preached I Did. 

So, I tried to record my sermon on the Audio Blogger thing, but it appears there's a time limit on it that is something less that about seven and half minutes. With an appreciative nod towards Hope (see first comment), the following is a rendering of the sermon I preached at tonight's service:

Who we want is Yoda.
As I look at the lesson from Jeremiah tonight, I am reminded of one of my favorite movies - The Empire Strikes Back, the second in the original Star Wars Trilogy. In it, the hero, Luke Skywalker, crashes his X-Wing (his space jet) into a swamp on the planet Dagobah, where he has gone in search of the great Jedi master, Yoda. Over the next few weeks, as the X-Wing sinks farther and farther down into the swap, he undergoes a period if intense physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual training with Yoda to learn the ways of the Force. During that time, he calls upon his newfound ability to harness the Force and in a dramatic moment attempts to raise the X-Wing...and fails. Yoda just shook his head and was probably thinking the same thing that Jeremiah writes about. You didn't listen, you didn't pay attention, you missed the meaning behind the message. Jeremiah writes that the Lord said, "I sent you prophet after prophet after prophet, and you didn't listen to any of them. Not only did you not listen to them, you ignored them and hardened your heart against them. And you wonder why you're in the fix that you're in now?"

Fast forward 1400 years to the Gospel lesson and it seems not much has changed. We get a picture of Jesus casting out demons to the people's amazement. Because they didn't pay attention to the prophets that the Lord had sent time and time again, they were unprepared to accept Jesus' message, his miracles and works, his very person. And so, they themselves cast about for other explanations for what they saw. "You're casting out demons by the power of Beelzulbul!" When all else fails, blame it on the devil, right? Others called for a "real" sign, as if casting out demons was not sign enough. But, like Jeremiah, Jesus just shook his head. he said to them, "If I'm doing what I say I'm doing, then the Kingdom of God has come among you, right here and right now!"

Are we ready for that?
Are we ready to believe Jesus, not just believe in Jesus, but actually to believe Jesus is doing what he says he's doing?

Jesus said we should come and gather with him, and to stop scattering, which is what the demons among us are doing.

Are we ready for that?
Are we ready to stop scattering the faithful and help Jesus gather them back in?

This is why the Primate's meeting was and is so hard, and shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. They are trying to gather in what is right now a very scattered flock. And just as I believe that the Holy Spirit was at work at General Convention 2003 (and on some days, that's harder for me than on others), but just as I believe that, I believe that the Holy Spirit was at work at the Primate's meeting. And I believe that the Holy Spirit will be at work at the ACC meeting in June. And I believe that the Holy Spirit will be at work at the next Lambeth Conference in 2008. I have to believe that!

So, who we want is Yoda, so that he can raise our X-Wing for us out of this swamp in which we find ourselves so deeply mired. But, but, who we need is Jesus, who not only tells us to stop scattering the faithful, but invites us to work with him on gathering them back in. Let us commit ourselves to prayer over the next months on how best we can do that. The X-Wing was big and heavy and the swamp was deep. But, let us remember that in the end, size and weight and depth didn't matter. If we are willing to accept Jesus' invitation to help him gather, size and weight and depth of our swamp won't matter, because he will be with us, even to the end. Amen.



The convention of saying "Who we want...but, who we need..." came from my classmate Hope who used it in a sermon for preaching class. I liked the idea so much and thought it worked so well for her there that I tried it out here. So, I owe her thanks.


By Blogger Ryan, at 3:46 PM  

thanks for posting it! nice job!

By Blogger Beth, at 6:49 PM  

Thanks Beth, and you're welcome. I wish you the best of luck on your "spring break"! You'll be in my prayers.


By Blogger Ryan, at 11:23 PM  

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