7 Easter Yr A May 28 2017 Audio
You all know I come from good Norwegian stock. One of the things that constitute us as a people is that we must eat, not necessarily like, but at least eat, lutefisk and lefse. Well, one of the other popular family reunion foods, a bit lesser know is glorified rice. I don’t know why rice has to be glorified, I like rice just the way it is, just as I prefer my torsk grilled rather than in soaked in lye, but who am I to question tradition?
I bring up this little conversation about Norwegian food, which is all white by the way, because glorified rice just really isn’t. At it’s core it really is just white rice, with cream and sugar added to make it something other than rice. So calling it glorified really just confuses me. And here’s the connection to today’s readings, the glory we read about in today’s readings needs not be so confusing. Making glorified rice is making rice into something it really isn’t; the father glorifying the Son so that the Son may glorify you, is creating or calling something into what it really is meant to be.
Thursday was the feast of the Ascension. The church marks this biblical story in which Jesus leaves this earthly existence. That’s always been somewhat confusing to me as well, but I’ve been reading this book by NT Wright, bishop of Durham, called Surprised by Hope, and his writings actually have helped me be less confused, for now at least. NT Wright explains that in the Resurrection, Jesus was raised from the dead, and there was some time between that event and the event of the Ascension. During that in between time, Jesus looked different than he had when he had been rabbi, teacher. We know this because all the stories describe the disciples and others not recognizing Jesus until he said something to them, like “Peace be with you.”
At the Ascension, Jesus ministry with his followers is concluded, and we are pointed to eternal life. Jesus has promised not to leave humanity bereft, but to leave humanity with the advocate, or the spirit, we are not left alone. The church celebrates that at the feast of Pentecost, and we spoke some of the Advocate last week. In the midst of all of this, the gospel writer John writes that Jesus has glorified God on earth, by finishing the work that was given to him to do. I think that this is where the message of today’s gospel lies. Glory is not about rice, it is not about making something that it is not, but glory is about you and I living exactly as we are meant to be, Glory is about being who we are created to be, just as Jesus is glorified and glorified the father by being exactly who he was meant to be, you and I are to glorify God by being exactly who we are called to be.
I’ve never been one to think or talk in terms of God’s plan for my life, or even in terms of God’s will. I’ve never really bought into a theology or staked my life on God directing the details of my life. However, I do believe that because of the resurrection of Jesus, preceded by his life and love, his pain and suffering, God does something new, something amazing, something wonderful. It is because of this new creation of which Jesus is the first born, that you and I receive the gift of new life, we receive gift of God’s abundant love, and it is that love which calls us to be the child that God calls us to be. We are glorified beings living for the glory of God. On this, I am willing to stake my life.
And in I Peter we have part of a picture of what it looks like to respond to God’s amazing and abundant love. We are to humble ourselves and God will raise us up. We are to cast all our anxiety on him, because he cares for us. We are to discipline ourselves and we are to keep alert. We are to remain steadfast in our faith, and we are to be in solidarity with the suffering of our brothers and sisters. When we respond to God’s amazing and abundant love in these ways, we too will be agents of the new creation; we too will be kingdom builders.
To be humble is a tough go in this present culture that idolizes drama and fame. But to be humble is not the same as subservient, or meek, or a doormat. I don’t see humble modeled much in our culture. I see posturing, I see the elevation of individual achievement, I see the need to be right. I see hero worship instead of mentoring. To be humble is to admit to ourselves and to others that we may be wrong, or that we may grow. It is to approach the others of God’s creation with an attitude that in the encounter, in the conversation, in the work and in the play, that we will be transformed, that we will be changed, that something amazing may happen and we will see the face of God. To be humble is to ask for and accept forgiveness. To be humble is to walk hand in hand with Jesus in our midst, Jesus in the other, Jesus in our suffering, and in our joy. To be humble is to be who God creates us to be; to be humble is glory.
We are to cast all our anxiety on God, because God cares for us. Oh how hard this is especially when anxiety and fear surround us and infiltrates our hearts and minds. Our economy makes us anxious, terrorism makes us anxious, being unsure if we have enough makes us anxious. But we are to cast that anxiety on God because God cares for us. We are to rest assured that God’s amazing and abundant love are enough. No more is needed, nothing less will do. Not to be anxious is to be who God creates us to be; not to be anxious is glory.
We are to be disciplined and to keep alert. It is hard to keep alert when everything draws our time, attention, and loyalty away from the discipline of prayer and study, away from our worship of God. We are inundated by opportunities to slumber rather than keep alert. We are anesthetized to the real world in which we need to live, the world in which God love us abundantly, the world in which we must respond to that love with prayer and praise, with loyalty and attention. To keep alert is to be who God creates us to be, to stay awake to love and charity, is glory.
We are to be steadfast in our faith. Steadfast, not right, not unquestioning, but steadfast, loyal, faithful. We are to persist in asking our questions and we are to persist in pursuing God as God persists in pursuing us. We are to be steadfast, we are to be faithful, no where does God demand success from us, everywhere God’s love and faith in us calls us to be faithful, to be steadfast. To be steadfast is to be who God creates us to be, to be steadfast is glory.
We are to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are suffering, because they, like us, are wonderfully and fearfully created children of God. We are to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are suffering, because when we can see that each of us is created in God’s image, we stand a chance of reconciliation, of restoration, resurrection. We are created new. To be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are suffering is who God creates us to be, it is God’s glory.
The power of new creation, the power of resurrection is transforming power. The power of God’s gift of new creation makes sense out of our suffering and our joy. It is this new life that God gives, and we know it is true because each one of us has lived through pain and suffering that we thought we could not bear, to see and experience something entirely new on the other side of it, when we are willing to open our ears and our eyes to the new creation.
God calls us to glory, to be who we are created to be. God calls us to respond to God’s amazing and abundant love with hope and with new life, with the possibility that we may meet God in one another.
Alleluia! Christ is risen. Amen.