the 14th Sunday after Pentecost

And the Word became flesh …
Creation is forever!

“Before almighty God to whom you must give account and in the presence of this congregation, will you assume this office believing the church’s call is God’s call to the ministry of Word and Sacrament.”

That’s the question that started it all, for me. Or rather, their first of four asked at my ordination.

“Before almighty God and in the presence of this congregation, will you assume this office believing the church’s call is God’s call to the ministry of Word and Sacrament.”

It’s hard to believe it was thirty-seven years ago, tomorrow night. And to imagine how much water – as they say – has gone under the bridge, since that night. Anyway, six years ago, I began a personal tradition. For myself. My kids. Grandkids. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to write a series of sermons focusing on the major themes, the primary ideas that have made me me, as a pastor. Things I’ve taught. Things I’ve preached. Things I’ve believed in. Staked my life on. A sermon a year, for the Sunday on or before the anniversary of my ordination – September 7th, 1983! A Sunday just like today! And I did just that for four years. Last year? The year before? Not so much. We’d been so driven by other things – selling the building, moving on – that my “tradition” was placed on the back burner. But this year, I remembered and got back on track. And the next theme of my theology is this! All this! The world! Creation! The cosmos!

Popular opinion has it that this – all of this – will, one day, disappear. That all this will, simply, vanish. Roll up like one of those old window blinds. Unimportant. Nonessential. In fact, popular opinion has it that all of this, even gets in the way of us being who and what god wants us to become. Hindering. Halting. There’s spirit and there’s flesh. There’s heaven and there’s earth. There’s the supernatural, the otherworldly, and there’s the here and the now.

But that’s not what I believe. And that’s not what you’ve been seeing here on Facebook, for going on six months. We could have stayed in the fellowship hall. Closed in. Closed up. Inside the walls. Behind the colored glass. Cool when the when the world is hot. Warm when the world is cold. Everything locked out that distracts, that disturbs. Ants. Flies. Wind. Traffic. People. After all, that’s the way we’ve always done it. For centuries. For generations. At least, until the past twenty-five-or-so weeks! Since then, we’ve been in backyards and at kitchen s and on park benches. We’ve been in the very places we3 live our life! The very places – as church – we’ve avoided. The very places we’ve kept at arm’s length.

Thing is, we’re human beings, not angels! We’re creatures! Not spirit, but dust! That’s what god made us, in the beginning! That’s what god intended, right from the start! Not supernatural! Not paranormal! Not otherworldly! And the farther we get from that dust, the farther we get from ourselves! The farther we get from that dust, the farther we get from god! Take a look around! All of this means something! All this matters! From here! To the horizon! And beyond! From the closest atom! To the most distant galaxy! And most of the time, on Sunday morning, we don’t get any of that! So spiritual! So holy!

Sure, there’s a bowl of water! And yes, there’s bread and there’s wine! Words spoken! Words sung! Earthly elements, Luther calls them. But it’s so easy to overlook all that! So easy to ignore! And instead, we fixate on what’s right before our face, obsess on what’s right under our nose! But becoming more spiritual doesn’t mean we become less human! That we become less creature! Becoming more spiritual doesn’t mean that we set all this aside! That we look somewhere else for god! Someone up high and far away. Like the song we heard on the way over here, this morning! About the “man upstairs, looking down” on all this!

We look in the wrong direction! God’s not over our heads! God’s beneath our feet! Beside us! Between us! John writes that the Word became flesh! The Word dwells among us! And god doesn’t ask us, expect us, to become anything different! God doesn’t ask us, expect us, to become anything more! We’re creatures! God says, “That’s enough!” God saying, “Good! Very good!” Life – our life – even our life with god – is something down-to-earth! Something we can see and hear and touch! Something we can, even, taste and smell! All of this matters! And resurrection isn’t an running away. Resurrection is an entering in! An embracing of it!

This is sacred! It’s holy! And god holds it all, not simply in god’s hands, but in god’s heart, as well! The desert! The plains! The mountains! The forests! Even the Permian Basin! “For God so loved the cosmos!” That’s how John puts it! “For God so loved the world! So loved the universe!” Not just spirits. Not just souls. But all of this! All of this and more! And this morning, we right in the middle of it all! No walls. No windows. No ceilings. No doors. We’re inconvenienced! We’re vulnerable! Exposed! We’re sidetracked! Distracted! And god loves it all! Us included! Loved to the depths of god’s being! Father! Spirit! Son!

We’re people! We’re “just” people! People just like billions of other! Yet, each of us is exceptional! Each of us is extraordinary! Each of us remarkable! A gift from god to all the others! A gift from god to the universe, itself! When Christ suffered, when he died, rose, even this was saved! Even all this was delivered! And we can’t live without it! Not as human beings! Not as creatures made in the image! Not as the church! We can only live with it! Look around you! This is your family! Your people! Brother Sun and Sister Moon! Brother Wind and Sister Water! Brother Fire, Mother Earth! God didn’t simply make it! All Creatures Great and Small! All Things Bright and Beautiful! All Things Wonderful and Wise! But god has loved them! Loved them all! And god has redeemed them! Redeemed them all!

So, thirty-seven years ago, tomorrow night, I was asked a question. “Will you assume the church’s call is god’s call?” And, of course, I said, “Yes! I will and I ask God to help me!” That was the question that started it off! But, my friends, that was only the beginning! And I have been asked many more, since then! Been asked many, many more!


Sunday Morning Worship 9.6.2020

MLC Sunday Morning Worship – Live from Big Spring State Park! 9.6.2020

Posted by Midland Lutheran Church on Sunday, September 6, 2020
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