Where is the Lord?

Homily for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 22) (Green)

Sunday, September 1st, 2019

St. John the Baptist Anglican Church, North Sydney, Nova Scotia

Readings
JEREMIAH 2:4-13; PSALM 81:1, 10-16; HEBREWS 13:1-8, 15-16; LUKE 14:1, 7-14

Collect

Author and Giver of all good things,
graft in our hearts the love of your name,
increase in us true religion,
nourish us in all goodness,
and of your great mercy keep us in the same;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

+++

In the name of the Holy Undivided One God: +Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

He didn’t own much, he wasn’t wealthy. He was not prestigious, nor was he popular with the in-crowd. They, the ones with all the power, did not favour him. Eventually they would imprison him, hold against his will, take him to Egypt. His friends rejected him, as did his family, as did the false prophets, priests and kings of his day.

Yet, in spite of all of this, Jeremiah the Prophet obediently and faithfully proclaimed God’s word. He went about doing the work that God had called him to do.

Jeremiah’s message is short. Repent and turn to the Lord. It’s more important than any other. But apparently the people disagreed. By their standard, Jeremiah was a failure.

However, Jeremiah wassuccessful, not by the world’s standards, but by God’s. He was obedient. And, he was faithful. He submitted to God.

This is what it means to be successful in God’s eyes. Obedient. Faithful. Submissive to God’s will. And when we strive to be so, we find God’s presence has always been with us, revealing God to us in whatever life may bring.

When we learn to ask, “Where is the Lord?” in the midst of all areas of our lives, we invite God in and we learn that God’s steadfast love for us will always be, not matter what.

It’s just as the Psalmist offers God’s warning. “My people did not listen to my voice; they would not submit. So I gave them over to their own devices. O that my people would listen to me. If they did, I would feed them with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock, I would satisfy them.”

In today’s Old Testament Lesson we hear the word of the Lord speak through Jeremiah the Prophet to the people. God tells Jeremiah, “Go out and say, ‘Thus says the Lord.”  And, that’s exactly what Jeremiah does.

This is the word from God that Jeremiah delivers to the house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel. “I remember you. You once sought after me as you wandered in the wilderness. What injustice have I done to you? You no longer ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ I brought you out of the land where you were once enslaved. I led you through land that no one crossed and brought you to a beautiful place. Yet, even the priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Neither did the ones who handle the law, nor the rulers, nor the prophets say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Instead, my people have exchanged their former Glory for that which does not profit. My people have committed two evils. They have forsaken me. I am the fountain of living waters. Instead, they have dug for themselves a broken cistern that cannot hold water.”

God desires our seeking, “Where is the Lord?” When we ask, God has an opening, a window through which a response may be heard, a relationship deepened.

God is faithful. God wants our faithfulness.

Thinks about those times of faithfulness in your lives. Did you ask, “Where is God in this?” And, did you not find God?

In our most faithful times, do we not find a response to our seeking, our asking, “Where is the Lord?”  In the times when we are unsure, can we still dare to ask, “God, where are you in this?”

“I am right here waiting for you to turn to me, over and over and over again.”

“Where is the Lord when my loved one goes to work and is injured and dies?

Where is the Lord when my grandchild dies unexpectedly?

Where is the Lord when I receive a diagnosis?

Where is the Lord in the midst of our aging population?

Where is the Lord when planes fly into skyscrapers and nearly three thousand people die?”

Where is the Lord when Greenland lost 12.5 billion tons of ice in a single day?

Where is the Lord in the midst of St. John the Baptist Anglican Church at this time of discernment about our future?

“I am right here waiting for you to turn to me, over and over and over again.”

It’s a question of spiritual discernment to ask, “Where is the Lord?” It’s a question of our faithfulness. Only when it is asked and we are open can we know God’s response. “I am right here waiting for you to turn to me, over and over and over again.”

This is the question God desires. “Where is the Lord?” Yet, the people to whom Jeremiah delivered God’s word, did not ask it. How will we know if we don’t ask?

When the question is avoided, when it is not asked, when we assume that God is not present – God  God is forsaken. And, God’s word is not heard.

Instead, when we humble ourselves before God as Jesus suggests in today’s Gospel, It’s like entering a wedding banquet that is hosted by God. We don’t assume the places of honour, the high places. But, we submit to God’s invitation to seat us where God will. “Those who humble themselves will be exalted,” as Jesus says.

When we are faithful, when we are most faithful to God…that is when we come around to seeing that God is the one who is faithful. We gain new insight, we grow in the Spirit, and we are able to say when we look out from ourselves, “There, there and there…there is the Lord!” And God continues to invite us in further – always further.

My hope for each of us as People of God is to be encouraged this day to ask, “Where is the Lord?” in whatever circumstances we find ourselves so that we may encounter God in all things. When pause to listen to God. Faithfully. Obediently. Humbly. Patiently.

When we do, we will find God respond in faithfulness, saying, “I will feed you with the finest of the wheat. With honey from the rock I will satisfy you.”

Amen.