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Have you ever built a fire?

August 19, 2013

How many here today, when this text is used, have been accustomed to hearing a sermon of Hell, fire, and Brimstone? Today, allow me the opportunity to re-vision this story through the lens of God’s grace.

Have any of you been camping and had to build a fire? When I was a youth and was involved in scouting, I remember how my leaders (mostly my Dad) taught us how to build a fire. He provided a list of materials we had to gather before we could do anything else. The list included: large logs of wood, some smaller pieces of wood, and some kindling, such as leaves and twigs. After gathering the materials, we were to dig a pit and place the Larger pieces of wood on the bottom of the pit with some of the Twigs and leaves between the larger pieces. Then we were to stack the smaller pieces on top of the larger pieces and place more of the twigs and leaves between those pieces of wood. After all of this, we were finally to the point of lighting the matches. This seemed to take a long time…and then we saw the twigs and leaves begin to smolder… then a flame…and all the while we watched and watched… and then we had a fire. Then the fire grew to a beautiful roaring fire. Building a fire is like most things in our lives, it takes preparation. As Children we are brought into the church, regardless of our chronological age, we prepare our foundation to be children of God and follower, no, better yet disciples of Christ Jesus.

This foundation is like the kindling Jesus wished to be already in place. Or was this a rhetorical devise? The kindling was in place in the first century as it is today. The oppressive Roman authorities had already suppressed many up-risings. Jesus was, and is today, telling us that even if the the oppressive forces can take our mortal life, but our souls belong to God.  Have any you seen the movie Bedazzled?  In one of the scenes, Brendon Fraiser’s character was in jail and his cell mate asked him why he looked so upset? Fraser’s response is, “I signed my soul over to the devil.” The cell mate’s next line  made the movie for me. He said, “How can you sell something that does not belong to you?” In this film, this scene plays into our lesson very well. We are called to be the kindling to change the world. However; today, just like in the first century world of Jesus, many people would like to have the instant fire instead of the process necessary using the kindling to allow the fire  to grow. This is like our faith journey. As we are taught in our religious life, Justice, Love and Charity are to be at the core of our lives, so that we can be identified as followers of Christ Jesus and children of God.  If we allow these virtues be present in all aspects of our lives… We can change ourselves to be true disciples of Christ Jesus and Children of God and in turn we will change the world.

As I was preparing today’s sermon, the words of the song writer James Taylor continued to swirl through my mind.

“Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus,

You’ve got to help me make a stand.

You’ve just got to see me through another day.

My body’s aching and my time is at hand

and I won’t make it any other way.

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.

I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.

I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend,

but I always thought that I’d see you again.”

How are each of us going to make a stand? How are each of us going to make a difference today? Even when our bodies do not want to cooperate…even when our minds are distracted by so many things. Our world is so cluttered with so much “stuff.” However as we grow into discipleship, the noise will lessen, maybe, and we see things in the world that will help us continue to grow in relationship with God and with all of creation.

But now back to our text, in verse 51 of our text today Jesus said, “Do you suppose that I have come here to give peace upon Earth? No, I say to you, but rather division.” I have hear sermons over the years, that completely ignore this part of the passage when it is a part of the readings of the day. But why would Jesus say this? Isn’t one of the Jesus’ titles “Prince of Peace”? If we take a moment to ponder the radical inclusivity that Jesus shared and in turn being his disciples, we should be active in seeing the world through a different lens. Not seeing the poor, the homeless, or those different from us as less that human. We will be changed and our families and friends will think we have lost our minds, because we have changed from our old self into a new person. This radical transformation from within has no choice but to burst forth. Tension will be everywhere. If we don’t give into the will of the world… even those closest to us, will be offended. Jesus is telling each one of us to prepare ourselves for the “shunning.” The Greek word that is translated as “hypocrite” is υποκριτης (hoop-ok-ree-tace). This word refers to an actor assuming the character they are portraying. SO…if we assume the role of a christian, but do not back it up with actions of justice and unconditional love… I guess we move toward the way that the word hypocrite is used today. The lesson from Luke today, is that we will find difficulties along our journey. We may even have issues with those we are closest to. But we should live into who God has called us to  be… a people dedicated to justice, love, and charity with and through Christ Jesus, so that we can truly become Children of God. God’s grace is all around us. God’s love is wrapped up in that grace we receive. The heart of the matter is… are we prepared to share God’s grace and love with all of creation?

As each of us move along the journey of our faith walk, what choices are we going to make? May we be made pure of heart, so that we can endure the divisions that our faith can cause. May we show God’s love and grace, so that creation may see God’s kingdom breaking forth all around us. May we be that kindling that Jesus wished for, to change the world from the business as usual. Allow me to close with the refrain by William Martin Joel:

“We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning

Since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

No, we didn’t light it

But we tried to fight it.”

 

Even though we did not start the fire, let us be the kindling for change toward living into the justice and just-ness of God and not give into the force of this world that separate us from God and one another and God’s creation. May we be apart of the catalyst of change in our day, and may the fire that Jesus brings us, make us pure in the sight of the Creator of us all.

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From → jimmyahornjr

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