Sunday, April 6, 2014
Fr Ronnie Sanders
Due to technical difficulty, no audio was recorded. Here is the text of the sermon:
Do You Not Know?
“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey”
Freedom versus slavery:
Give me my freedom for as long as I be.
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me.
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me,
And all I ask of dying is to go naturally.
Oh I want to go naturally.
- From “And When I Die” first recorded by Peter, Paul, and Mary and then by the songwriter herself, but it is version recorded by the 3rd group to record it that we remember, Blood, Sweat, & Tears
A Collect for Peace
O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go." – NKJV
A God who resurrects – The Jesus who called forth his dead friend from his tomb and the God who gave Ezekiel the vision of the valley of dry bones, this same God can restore what our past sin has destroyed. God gave Ezekiel the vision, God showed Ezekiel that He could raise up an army of living, breathing soldiers from a pile of dead men’s bones, but Ezekiel had to do the prophesying. Twice God told Ezekiel to prophesy, once to cause the restoration of the flesh and organs, and again to cause the breath to enter into the dead bodies and resurrect them. When Jesus resurrected Lazarus, the witnesses were told to unbind the grave clothes in order that he might be totally free.
In these passages, we see God acting, but not entirely without some participation by those on whose behalf he was acting. Almost always, when God chooses to act on our behalf, or in our lives, He will call us to move in His direction. We do not have to meet Him half way, but we usually do have to at least take a step toward Him. Where is He calling you to meet Him today? What does He desire for you to do in order to receive what He has already done for you or on your behalf?
What is your vision? What was the vision God gave to those of us who helped plant this church 15 years ago on this day? Is that vision still alive today or has it died? Is there only a skeleton left where once there was a living, breathing dream? Does God need someone to prophesy to the dead corpse that once was the vision of St. Mary Magdalene? Do we share a corporate sense of urgency to be about our Father’s business?
Before there can be a thriving corporate vision, there must be a thriving individual vision within each of one of us. How is your personal vision this morning? Do you have a sense of wonder at the goodness and faithfulness of Jesus in your life? Have you recently had overwhelming desire to bow down on your knees, or on your face, in awe and worship of our extravagantly loving Father in heaven? Does our corporate worship reveal a deep longing in our hearts?
God’s part – Our Part
If you really want to be able to say, “All I ask of living is to have no chains on me,” then surrender your will to the will of God, because “to know God is eternal life and to serve God is perfect freedom.” “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey” Whom do you usually obey? What does your daily life reveal about who you usually obey?
Jesus does want us to live an abundant life here and now. In order for us to experience life more abundantly, we have to live free from any bondage. The only one we need to be fully surrendered to is Jesus. The single source we need to run to, the one we go to when we need comfort, reassurance, and to escape the stress and worries of life, is Jesus. He is the only one who can truly be all that we need. Not our spouse, not any of the substances or false intimacy that we so often seek as a means to cope.
We have to fully embrace these truths and all truth as revealed in scripture. And we need to encourage each other with these words. When we fully believe, when we fully commit to live with Christ at the center of our life, with our hearts given only to Him, we will have the emotional and spiritual strength to be there for each other. We will have the time and energy to spend with others who are in need, who are still seeking for the one treasure that is worth selling all to have. Only after spending the time necessary with our Lord and Savior to satisfy our own spiritual thirst, ( the secret place, as Bishop Chuck calls it ) will we have the living water to share with others.
1 Cor 2:12 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God.” We do not have to work hard to get what we need from God. We have to cease working. We have to be still. We have to lay everything down and focus our eyes and hearts on the one who freely gives us everything we have need of.
“Do you not know “Do you not yet understand?” Mark 8:21
Was Jesus really frustrated with the disciples? Was Paul condescending toward the believers in Rome? From the perspective of our cynical culture, you might be inclined to read a critical tone into these passages. However, I believe that Jesus was emphasizing the urgency of the moment due to the fact that his time left to be physically with the disciples was coming to a swift close. I believe Jesus realized that so much of what he had taught the disciples had not yet make that journey from their head to their heart. Last Sunday I asked you “What Do You Know?” and talked about the importance of our experiences in God’s presence, those times when his manifest presence was tangible in our lives, because these become anchors, they help our personal faith and doctrine to be both head knowledge and heart knowledge.
Today I have focused on “Do you not know?” “Do you not yet understand?” I hope you are now more aware of how the choices we make in our daily lives reflect the one whom we are usually obeying. If we desire to live a life with greater freedom, then we must kneel down and surrender the control of our life to Jesus.
The original vision of this parish 15 years ago was to provide a safe place, a welcoming place where those who might not feel welcome in so many other local congregations would be accepted and loved. To be the manifest presence of Christ to the world today. To make visible the void, is how the founders of the Charismatic Episcopal Church phrased it. To be living sacraments. That means we seek to be the hands and feet of Christ in our community. That is, we desire to speak words of hope, of healing, of life and truth to those who are desperately seeking such good news. It doesn’t matter what their lives look like when they come to us, or when we go to them. Their life could look like a valley of dry bones. Has your life ever looked like a valley of dead men’s bones? Do you have a vision? Do you share the vision of our parish? Can those dry bones live again? Will you be the one take the good news to the ones who are so in need of hearing it? Is God calling you to prophesy breath into the dead corpse of someone’s dream?