Tony E Dillon Hansen
A Sermon based upon Colossians 1:15-28, Genesis 18:1-10, Luke 10:38-42, Psalm 15
Let us begin with prayer. May the words of my mouth and meditations of all of our hearts be accepted in Your sight, Our Rock and Our Redeemer!
3rd Dan Testing
Many moons ago, I was in Ames testing for my 3rd Dan and it was a challenging event as it pushed my limits. It was almost amazing that I was even there as I had spent the last couple years with a series of knee injuries that sidelined me. Finally, I was promoting to 3rd degree. Things were going ok and then they asked the group to executing running jump sidekicks, and I was not sure If I wanted to do much jumping. Yet, I made it this far so why not? What happens next was something I had not expected.
Elements of a Mystery
I have always enjoyed watching and reading courtroom dramas and mysteries, like Scooby Doo. In each of these, writers attempt to present puzzle for us to try to solve and tossing out clues along the way. Often to make it interesting, we are given a ruse or red herring, and we are invited to take the bait that takes into a plausible resolution.
In fact, I was in a seminar with a magician and he described the idea that trick of illusionists is to tell you what he will do (like how he was going to get a dollar bill into an orange) and have your ponder on the how. Meanwhile, his attempt is to sidetrack your attention onto something completely different. Our focus is upon the tangent regardless of how important the tangent is. For instance, we like to focus upon Scooby Doo and Shaggy antics, while Velma and crew figure out the mystery. When the big reveal happens, we are amazed at the illusion before us and skill of the illusionist.
In either case, the writer or performer is intentionally attempting to divert attention onto those tangents or red herrings. We love to pay attention to shiniest thing and the newest thing. In our minds we also like to start making connections to these shiny things and ideas. This works in our favor with curiosity to learn and discover new things, but it can also be way to distract us from fundamental truths.
Dictators take this idea to an extreme. They work to distract us from a truth, and then there are many possibilities of directing the narrative. Often by pandering to neglected nostalgia, dictators can fuel discontent and divert whole societies away from truths. When they get enough people to buy into the diversion, they can then use mob mentality to produce peer pressure into accepting claims as truth by leaning or conniving to insight personal ego and nostalgia.. This is maybe one reason why so many Germans felt unaware of the atrocities around them in the 30s and 40s.
What is the reaction when the big reveal is not what we thought? (Oh that’s not fair, you didn’t play by the rules, trying to be cute with intelligence.) When it doesn’t go our way, we can laugh it off, or we might double down - rejecting that we were misled or fooled. We may even invent facts that corroborate with our version. We might get mad at the writer/ performer when the big reveal does not align with our version of the story. When that happens, we might want to check our ego.
I guarantee most of the performers are not out to insult us or make us look like fools, but magic and mystery shows are not the only places where we reach wrong conclusions.
Right now vs Right one.
When an idea looks stale and boring, or we get tired of waiting for what we think we deserve, we might then switch to instant gratification. We settle for right now instead of the right one. The goofy thing about that is how the right one has likely been there the whole time, but we blind ourselves in one way or another from it.
We busy ourselves with the right now and live into that idea regardless of the house of cards we create. If we don’t check our ego, we are willing to defend that house of cards as valid instead of a ruse.
This is what is kind of happening in Colossae. Remember, the letter is written as an encouragement to keep the faith and to help understand what Jesus has done for us and what God is doing now. The letter encourages us to live servants of the Gospels and let it inspire us rather than looking for something else – which is apparently a chief concern for people in Colossae and us as well.
People are looking for God then and now. Yet, God has revealed and continues to reveal “riches of the glory of this mystery…” What is this mystery and what are the riches?
I would avoid thinking only of these “riches” as earthly wealth or money. God is much more than that because God’s mystery reveals riches of spirit, hope, wisdom, and healing.
Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us so that we might have forgiveness and is why the letter expresses the supremacy of Christ.
So yes, God does mysterious things even now as we sit here. God is not just aloof in the sky or only available once a week in these walls. God is glory! God is hope! God is love! God is in our hearts – waiting for us!
We only tap into that goodness and let the great mystery live through us. God is working and speaking.
Maybe you imagined and expected to see God in white long beard with great royal robe upon a throne. Well, I am sorry to disappoint you – you got me today. Still, I want to know what you were doing before you got here !
God’s Mystery is Working
I submit to you that God is here and working. If you look deep into your heart and let God transform you, then you may see God in many forms, many ways and you may be inspired to lift up and shout out – that You have felt the Lord; that You have witnessed the Lord!
Yes you may feel that tickle, hear that whisper. You may smell the aroma and you may see God!
As we talked last time, you may see God in your neighbor wherever they are on life’s journey. You may witness God in the space between. You may experience God in your heart. That experience can be amazing when you let God be in you – not just a nostalgic image.
God is near you – perfectly mysteriously – perfectly all the time.
Yes we may busy ourselves with the shiny moments and our plausible theories to occupy our minds and time. Then, we miss God working in those same moments. So I suggest, the next time you are looking around for some help or some company that God is right there and always has been. God is here and in our community and the mystery is there to discover on God’s time rather than our own. As Garth Brooks sings, “Some God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”
So let go of the red herring theory, let go of the nostalgia, let go of the expectation, let go of ego, and let God be with you now.
Let God show you the wonder of this world.
Let God abide in you and bear that fruit of the covenant: the covenant of love.
There, the mystery abides and may be revealed when you open your heart and mind to God as is.
Kicking in Faith
So when I executed the flying side kick, something happened that I did not expect. I jumped the highest that I had ever jumped while executing the kick. I was so high that two things happened. 1) I triggered my internal fear of heights (even while being amazed), and 2) I almost landed on the judges table in front of me. This technique was meant for foot infantry and peasants to be able to kick cavalry riders off their horses – and now I understand. One of my fellow class mates snapped a picture of this and suggests that I could have cleared a standing person.
How did this happen?
The ego inside me, of course, says that, indeed, I did this! Then, I think back to all that I went through to get to that point. I think of all the people that have been part of that journey, encouraging me and challenging me to be better – in all of the training I had done. I think of the times when I was injured and praying for healing: Praying for just a sign. God was there always, and these were all clues.
God guides us in ways that we do not realize. No illusions given but God does offer clues and speaks to us.
God encouraged you and I to keep the discipline and continues to bless us.
So yes our ego can cover our eyes with illusions, but God is wanting to reveal that mystery and that blessing to us. If you let God instead of your expectations of God, then I submit your possibilities are limitless. We don’t have to settle for right now because the right one is right here! When you let God lift you, then you might reach heights you have never seen. Yes that can be scary, but very exciting!
When you let God, then you might witness the mystery revealed.
Thanks Be to God.