Sunday, August 28, 2016

Does God Cry? - Luke 14

Does God Cry?
Tony E Dillon-Hansen

A sermon based upon 
Jeremiah 2:4-13
Psalm 81:1, 10-16 (UMH 803)
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16
Luke 14:1, 7-14 

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

I would like for you to consider the question, “Does God Cry?” 

Have you had someone in your life that you loved so much and did so much for them (say a friend, a child, a sibling or parent even) that would always seem to find way to “test” your devotion to them?  I am sure that my parents may have felt that about me from time to time, if you want examples. Interestingly, this situation has even happened to me as well. 

When we love someone one like that and continuously get disheartened for our effort, some things happen inside of us. At some point, we start to question why we have to be constantly “tested”, disobeyed, used, abandoned or simply ignored by those people that we have given so much love. We begin to wonder about the nature of the relationship and what inside it does to us. Did we let ourselves get “duped,” or what part of our love earned a willingness to be disgraced?

These are just some of the emotions evoked and shared by God in the passage of Jeremiah. We can see how God is reminding us of the great and wonderful things that has been given to us.  Yet, we continuously want to ignore those good things for something cheaper, less reliable and less God. 

I can think of people going to a store to buy a cheap appliance over and over and wondering why it keeps breaking.  We keep relying upon our money, ways, desires or attachments (much like those cheap appliances) for an illusion of happiness today without remembering or asking for the true grace that requires us to do some things that honor God. We don't have to ask why the illusions break so easily — we can simply come to God.

God is calling to us to share in those good, reliable works that is God, like a fountain of living water instead of tired, unreliable or broken vessels of emptiness (money, idols, etc). God is calling us to do good work.  What is good work — you might ask?

Paul in Hebrews reminds us of a few ways of “good work” by honoring God through: love, hospitality, taking care of outcasts and prisoners, keeping marriage vows, avoiding greed, and be willing to come to Jesus. These are great ways to build a good faithful life.

Instead of expecting instant or empty rewards, we can share in the fulfilling grace of God. 

By giving, we truly receive.
By forgiving, we may be pardoned.
By humbling ourselves, we may be exalted (according to Luke in Chapter 14)
By inviting to all, we may be welcomed by Jesus.

If we want to live our faith fully, we must acknowledge that we are blessed to be a part of God’s kingdom, and that God is the source of true fortunes and grace. Again from Luke 14, We are asked to share the gifts and grace that have been given to us with all people in our community— including the outcasts, the poor, the weak, and the different because God’s kingdom is not exclusive to the wealthy fortunate.

So, we must be willing to forgive. We must be willing to remember where true grace happens. Remember how you felt when you felt when you were ignored, but be willing to forgive because God will.

Again, Does God Cry? Where is the Lord?

While we may decide we have had enough of someone’s dishonor to us and maybe even end a relationship over it, we can know that God is longing for us to come home.  God is crying for us to return to the fountain of life.  God wants to share love with us and give us gifts— when we are willing to do our part of the covenant.

We have to do our part, to live our faith, and to give thanks for what we have (even if it feels small). Let us not be careless with what has been given to us.

God is waiting,
God is hopeful.
God is love.
Thanks be to God.