Love wins.

Homily for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C

15 September 2019

 

St. John the Baptist, North Sydney, Nova Scotia

 

Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28; Psalm 14; I Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-10

 

Collect of the Day

 

Almighty God,

You call your Church to witness

That in Christ we are reconciled to you.

Help us to proclaim the good news of your love,

that all who hear it may turn to you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever. Amen.

 

 

+++

 

In the name of the Holy One who seeks, finds and rejoices over the lost: +Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

In the Collect Prayer for this, the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, we pray these words: Almighty God, you call your Church to witness that in Christ we are reconciled to you. Notice the working of God in this prayer. God calls the Church that is the Body of Christ – because – we are reconciled to God through our faith in Christ.

 

God calls us. Christ reconciles us.

 

And, we pray, Help us to proclaim the good news of your love.

 

God helps us.

 

Our Church mission statement, “Love wins,” couldn’t say it better, could it? Love wins. God helps us to live the good news of God’s love. God’s love wins and we pray that all who hear about it and see it in action in our lives may also turn to God. In so doing, we hope that all may know the love of God.

 

This love of God is what Paul is talking about in his First Letter to Timothy. Because God worked in Paul’s heart, bringing him to repent and turn toward God, Paul’s faith in God through Jesus Christ strengthened him to a life of service.

 

Recall that before, Paul was known as Saul of Tarsus. Saul committed the most horrific atrocities toward Jesus’ followers anyone could imagine. While walking on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus on a mission to persecute Jesus’ followers, it was the resurrected Lord that appeared to him, saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” For the three days following he was blind. Ananias, a follower of the Lord, restored Paul’s sight.

 

From that moment on, Paul preached the good news of Christ. Christ strengthened Paul, calling him into a life of faithfulness and service. This is only so because of mercy and grace.

 

Grace overflowed for him with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Most certainly did Christ come to save sinners, that all may turn to receive mercy, just as Paul has. Christ comes patiently, so that all turn to God may be an example to others.

 

This is for the glory of God and the common good of all. The common good of all is what Jesus is about in today’s Gospel, and God is glorified.

 

Even the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. Jesus welcomes them, he welcomes all, and the Pharisees and scribes are not happy about it. They are grumbling to one another.

 

“Who among them,” Jesus asks, “would not go after that which is lost?”

 

Because Jesus brings in those who others dismiss as not worthy, all may find new worth and rejoice in God’s embrace.

 

Without a shepherd, the sheep are lost. Without Jesus, we are lost. Remember Saul, who like a lost sheep, was found by Christ. And, becoming the Apostle Paul, he fulfilled God’s call in his life.

 

My sisters and brothers, how do you feel about this in your hearts – God’s call in your life? Who are you in this parable? Are you more like the grumbling Pharisees and scribes who insist on their own way? Do you judge the worthiness of others?

 

Or, do you trust God’s working in your life and in all those around you? Do you rejoice in God’s working in all, so that the lost may be found by the Shepherd? In the Shepherd Jesus’ finding you? Do you rejoice that you are counted among God’s flock?

 

Jesus comes rejoicing to find you and trusts you to God’s care.

 

Do you go willingly – sharing  in God’s joy that you are one of God’s own, cared and loved for beyond anything you can ask or imagine?

 

This is just how it is for each of us when we turn to God in every moment of our lives, no matter what we may be facing. There is more joy before the angels of God over you.

 

Do you hear what I’m saying to you this morning?

 

What Jesus does on earth during his earthly ministry corresponds precisely with God’s doing “on earth as it is in heaven.”

 

When we accept that Jesus has found us and rejoices in us, we enter into the joy of God’s kingdom.

 

And, we discover that there are thin places where heaven and earth come together. In their coming together,  the places where we know ourselves to be found by God, we experience God’s kingdom and share it with the world.

 

I pray that you know this place, St. John-the-Baptist, to be such a thin place. I hope you know it as a place where you, along with everyone else, may rejoice over being found – so that all can know life in God’s kingdom.

 

We’re about to experience one of those thin places together as we gather around God’s table. God is its proprietor. We are here at God’s invitation, being found by God. There is a place at God’s table for allwho accept that they have been found, just as the Shepherd seeks and finds all.  This isthe good news of God’s love.

 

God calls us. Christ reconciles us. God helps us.

 

Amen.