Hope with Faith because of Love

Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, Year C                                                                  17 February 2019

St. Timothy’s Anglican Church, Hatchet Lake, Nova Scotia, Canada          11:15 AM/7:00 PM

Audio link from 7:00 PM service: 

Collect Prayer (BAS): Almighty and everliving God, whose Son Jesus Christ healed the sick and restored him to wholeness of life, look with compassion on the anguish of the world, and by your power make whole all peoples and nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Jeremiah 17:5-10 Psalm 1 I Corinthians 15:1-20 Luke 6:17-26

Mid-February in Nova Scotia sure can be tricky business, can’t it?

Looking outside on a bright sunny day, we quickly discover when we leave the house that the wind chill is much, much lower than it looks like it ought to be, given the bright sunlight and cloudless sky. And, aren’t those sunrises and sunsets enough to take your breath away — they are full of beauty that leads us so quickly to give thanks to the Creator.

Then again, not long ago, didn’t we have a wet, foggy day that turned into three? At least, it felt like three wet, foggy days lumped together. But, it was warm enough that you could smell the wet earth, reminding us that spring will come — even if we were tempted to believe that we will just skip the rest of this winter and enjoy the unfolding of an early spring.

Well, we know better. But, still, it could happen, couldn’t it?

Then, there are the more typical gray, raw days with snow and ice when the best thing to do is to stay off of the roads, put on the kettle and hibernate. Especially on days like we woke up to this past Wednesday, it can feel like we’re living in darkness, rather than the light.

It can feel like we’re living in darkness, rather than the light; when the cupboards are bare or when the house is cold or the roof is leaking.

It can feel like we’re living in darkness, rather than the light; when there are more days in the month than the paycheque will support.

It can feel like we’re living in darkness, rather than the light; when the spouse leaves us, or the nightmare of addiction visits, or when the diagnosis comes, or when we support those whom we love who are ill.

…when we feel alone …when we are tired …when we are sad.

But, thanks be to God. Christ is in this world exposing the darkness to light.

IMG_0089That feeling of darkness? Well, sometimes it is remarkably the shadow of the Cross of Jesus Christ enfolding us in the Love of God. Because, all of our life as followers of Jesus is now oriented toward him.  Jesus walked on this earth. Jesus has died and is resurrected so that we might be in relationship with God. And, when we say “yes”, we welcome him into our lives today. And, be assured, Jesus will one day come in a final act of God’s justice and restoration. When it comes to God’s justice and restoration, that is God’s mission and as followers of Jesus – we join with God in this mission.

Our Archbishop Ron Cutler reminded us of this at MORE Mission School this past January. He said that we are Missional People because the Mission of God is to restore the world and us in the world, to God’s original intent — loving relationship with God. We follow in the ways of Jesus – we become God’s co-participants, God’s co-creators. This mission is for all who follow.

We who follow Jesus, we are all called to this work. The work is to live lives that honour the truth of God wherever we are. And, we are all called to speak God’s truth wherever we are. All we need to do with all that we have, is to faithfully live God’s call out-loud in the world so that the world may know the deepest truths of God.

God loves the world.

God saves the world through Jesus.

God will restore all things for God’s glory and honour.

This is the very thing that Paul addresses in his first letter to the Church at Corinth. Paul is writing to committed followers of Jesus — people just like us — that are familiar with the challenges that everyday life can bring.

In the midst of whatever life has brought to you, hear Paul’s encouragement. Hear him as if he were writing personally to you:

The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me: that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day, again exactly as Scripture says; that he presented himself alive to Peter, then to his closest followers, and later to more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time, most of them still around (although a few have since died); that he then spent time with James and the rest of those he commissioned to represent him; and that he finally presented himself alive to me… But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. (I Corinthians 15:3-10, MSG)

…We [speak] God’s truth in order that [we and all others] may entrust your lives [to God].

I repeat.

…We [speak] God’s truth in order that [we and all others] may entrust your lives [to God].

 

We speak God’s truth in order that all others may entrust.

Notice. Not only does our faith affect the mission of God out there.

We speak God’s truth in order that we may all more fully entrust our lives to God. So, when we are obedient to our faith in Jesus Christ, it changes our lives in here, in our hearts.

This life change in the world and in us, in our hearts is because: Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead.

You see — the terms of Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection are certain.

Hope is a good thing. But if we stop with hope in Jesus Christ, Paul goes on to say, “we are of all people most to be pitied.” Here he is saying that it is one thing to hopethat something is true, like the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the dead.

It is quite another thing to know in our hearts. The heart is where faith is rooted. How can we know in our hearts? Well, we explore. We ask questions. And, when it comes to knowing God, our relationship deepens. Certainly. And, that deepening will continue if…

Knowing God by faith deepens our relationship with Him and with one another. That is to say, if…

…if we don’t block God’s working in our heart by pushing Him away with the same questions that God, I think, wants us to ask so that we may grow more deeply in obedience through faith.

As for faith, hope and love – these three are meant to abide together, Paul tells us. Do you see what I’m talking about?

Hope is not certain without faith and love. Hope is only complete when it is with faith and love.

Today, can you hear Paul encouraging us to move between the rational arguments in our minds, to the radical, unbelievable-yet-amazing-truththat dwells in our hearts?

Be certain. Rest your hope in faith in the truth of the resurrection with love.

In obedience to your faith in Jesus Christ delight in the law of the Lord, meditate on it day and night. Be like the trees planted by streams of water. Know that we will bear fruit in due season.

Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, your leaves will not wither. This is because with your life, your heart of faith lived out in obedience in love, those leaves cannot wither.

This is what resurrection is about no matter if our lives are favourable or unfavourable.

Jesus looks at us, his followers, and says, “You, my beloved, are blessed.”  And, when we receive the blessing of Christ’s love for us through hope with faith, we learn that what can feel like deep, impenetrable darkness – it’s a shadow.

We discover that the shadow is created by the light of God spreading the shadow of the cross of Jesus Christ over us, protecting us, saving us for His glory, praise and hounour. And, we are reminded of how deep God’s love for us is.

For, blessed are you who are poor, know that yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who are hungry now, know that you will be filled.

Blessed are you who weep now, know that you will laugh.

Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and

defame you on account of the Son of Man.

Rejoice in each day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven.

Lord God, heavenly King, we thank you for the certain promise of resurrection life. May we rejoice and leap for joy in all of life, certain that our reward is great in You. In the name of God; + Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.