Saturday, November 12, 2011

Go light God's world!

Have you ever stopped to consider what kind of flame your life is? Is it a tiny little candle with a very small flame because the wick is too short? Is it a lamp with little oil and you wish to conserve what you have for those moments that are darkest and worrisome? Or is your life a candle in the wind, waiting to go out when it final blows hard enough to extinguish your light. And what about our faith community... what kind of light are we as a Church in this city? Why are we always so ready to husband such a tiny flame when what God calls the Church to is a roaring signal fire. Why can't the Church be a place where people can come to be rescued and can be made safe and warm? Why shouldn't the church be a people that shed light for those who have fallen into the darkness and need some light in their lives and find a bit of light for their own lives too?

Maybe part of the answer lays in a story about a young man who was dating a young woman. They had been out on a first date and were standing underneath the light of the front porch of her parents’ home. The youthful squire inquiry of his young lady, “May I kiss you?” the young woman smiled broadly at the young man but spoke not a word. Being inexperienced in such matters, the silence somewhat unnerved our hero and so he plucked up the courage and asked, more slowly, more deliberately a second time¸ “May I kiss you?” And again the maiden smiled invitingly but said nothing. The squire still uncertain and now a bit exasperated by the seemingly unresponsive girl blurts out “Can I kiss you??” To this the young lady replies, “I don’t know... are you paralyzed?”

So then how does the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25.14-37) benefit us? If we are to consider who God is for us then we need to seriously consider who God is. Many in this day and age will consider God to be the harsh person that the owner is at the end of the story – taking what was not his and reaping the benefits of work that God not performed. That is how many people look at God and expect God to act. I find at least one problem with that kind of thinking... if that is how you see God and expect God to act then is that what you see and what you get? It is what you are looking for, is it not?

The servant who knew the nature of his master and did not do anything with what he was given knew what the outcome of his inaction would be: harsh words and rough treatment. And yet, he still did nothing. This makes one wonder about the other two servants. They were given more, entrusted with more than the one who failed to act: were they worried about get rough up by the master or did something else motivate them? I can remember being told that in Chinese, the written word for “crisis” contains two words: danger and opportunity. All of us will be acquainted with danger in the ways of life, but how often do we see the opportunities that confront us? And how often do we step up and take the chance that something good can and will come from taking risks.

It is easy to read this week’s lessons and come away with the feeling that of we are good and do as we are told that we will be fine where God is concern. If we do then we have missed the point that Scripture is trying to make for us. We are all called to obedience, to first listen to what the Spirit is saying to us and then in the strength and peace that Christ affords us, to live as we are called. We are to actively seek out God wherever God is in the world, follow and do as God does. Faith and faithfulness are not just in the head and lips. Faith is also resident in our hearts, hands and feet. The Scriptures and the Spirit are calling the Church to be more than wet firewood that cannot be set ablaze. We are drawn by God to the fire that we might dry out and be used as fuel for the fire. We are already wait for that moment when heaven is revealed. Everybody expects heaven to come but nobody knows when it will arrive. This is why we are called to live in such a way that we can draw others nearer to the flame of the kingdom.  The kingdom will come at a moment when things are going well, when there are no major conflicts in the world, no banking crisis, no wars, no famines, no diseases that need to be stamped out. The kingdom will come when we think that we have mastered this realm and there is no real need of another and that we have control of everything our own selves.

It seems that the parable makes clear that we have a choice: we can choose to serve God and risk what it is we think we have, or more appropriately, what we have been bless to be stewards of. Or we can do nothing and hide in fear, hoping that maybe God will not notice that we have not taken the risk. Is it not possible that such fear and inactivity is more like to break the heart of God, of the One who risk the cross and the grave to help us live with and for him? Is it not foolish to act in light of the generosity and grace that we have seen and been shown? God has made available everything available for his Church to do what needs to be done to make the world aware that the kingdom is coming to them. Is it possible that our vision of God is too small and that we like it that way. It makes it possible for us to box God in and not allow God to be anything else but we allow ourselves to see? Then we had better start living our liturgy so that we can begin to more in his strength, in his way and with his imagination for his kingdom and his glory.

So let’s choose this week how we will shine for the kingdom of God and how we will let God’s light and life shine out of us that others will be drawn to the kingdom and the life of God.

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