Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Trusting today and tomorrow

This past month our gospel lessons have come straight from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. I imagine Jesus standing on top of a small ridge as the crowd spread out below him in a bowl to hear him talk.

The crowd came looking for something or someone to make them and their world right. The world was right once. Back along time ago. God made it right and beautiful and good. Eden is back there in our dreams and in our often unspoken hopes. It is back somewhere in our imaginations: a place and a time where we knew God's goodness and provision and nothing less.

Jesus spoke a word that leaves me unsettled. Deep in my heart I don't always trust God. Deep in my heart I don't always believe that God will provide if I just trust.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:25-27 NIV
The people of Jesus day, and of our day, have seen some of the worst that this world has to offer: poverty, sickness, shame, sin, guilt, despair. They had seen it and lived in it. We know it too: in our lives and families, in our work and homes. We know full well what it is like to be fallen people in need of a savior. The people of Jesus day and the people of our day have been hurt and and hurt others. And Jesus came into the world healing and teaching from a heart of love 2000 years ago. And He told people then and us today very simply to trust in God rather worry.

Jesus came to earth to transform us and to change us now and in eternity. Jesus came not for those who deserved to be loved but for those who found themselves to be the most unhappy and the most unlovable. He came for those who have twisted love and hurt others through their actions whether intended or unintended.

Faith in God is about today and tomorrow. It's about trusting that God is at work today for us and with us and trusting that tomorrow is in his hands. Faith means taking very seriously the word and the promise that Jesus came to make all things new both today and tomorrow. He came to die himself in order that those who believe might some day rise up with him on the last day.

Monday, February 7, 2011

See I have set before you Deut 30:15-20

"See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity” (Deuteronomy 30:15 NRSV)

There are a myriad of choices that lay before us everyday. “Blue shirt of white shirt?” Doesn't seem like a life and death choice does it? At least not as obvious as the one's facing Israel? “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live...” Deuteronomy 30:19 (NRSV)

Coke or Pepsi? Cream or no cream in your coffee? Cold cereal or frozen waffle? Orange juice or milk? These are the kinds of choices people make every day. They don't seem like life and death choices do they?

And yet as we listen to Moses words today we hear out loud that we are to choose life. And Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said that we are to choose life in as many ways as we possibly can in our relationships in our life so that we can come to God unencumbered and unchained.

Combat veterans sometimes tell stories about the seemingly innocuous choices that might seem like meaningless everyday choices back at home that become life and death choices in a combat zone. One spoke about his experience on patrol years ago. He was patrolling in a town trying to look after the safety of the people. He didn't speak their language and he didn't always understand their life style. And still he and his comrades knew their mission was to protect these people to serve them as best they could.

He said that he, and the people serving with him, learned quickly that everyday acts were actually choices. They chose how they interacted with children in the town. They chose how they moved about the area, whether on foot or driving. They were making choices all the time that might improve their relationship with the people of the town or that might undermine their relationships. Some of the choices, he said looking back, were life and death choices for himself and the people he served with. He said that a choice as simple as choosing which road you traveled at which time of day might determine your safety and survival.

We are called to choose life. At every stage of life we are to continually choose life for ourselves and our neighbors. Even in the smallest decisions when we choose life we open up more future opportunities for ourselves and our families. Choosing life isn't a one time decision for the smallest and the most vulnerable. We are to choose to seek the benefit of our neighbors just as we seek to choose life for ourselves. We are to choose life for the very young and the oldest. In our relationships and in our homes. In our business and in our play choose life and your life will be all the better.