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Light to the Nations?

23 Jan

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Our texts this week are deeply intertwined in its history, as well as our own time and place.

First, I want to talk about the image of light which started in Advent and has continued in this Time after Epiphany. During Advent, we have the wreath that symbolizes the light banishing the darkness. The light symbolizing hope, peace, joy, love, and Christ that banishes despair, violence, hate, and evil.

Light also helps us to create order in the chaos of the darkness.

Our Isaiah (9: 1-4) text have been focused upon us as the light to the nations, to the peoples, to the world. In our text this week, we have a transfer of political power and some of the people are excited and hopeful about this new leadership, while others are not and their hope is being clanged to a future leader that will restore the people. We can’t look at this text in that way without thinking about the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

This brings me into our 1 Corinthians (1:10-18) text. Paul has heard that those in Corinth have disagreements and quarrels that have lead to divisions. He urges the people to be united in mission and in purpose. As I have said before, [difference] does not necessarily equal division. We have been created to look, to think, to act differently with different talents and skills, time and gifts, and energy that are intended for the purpose and mission we have all been called into; the mission to be that light to the world.

Our gospel text is the call stories of Simeon Peter, Andrew, John, and James. All were out on their boats fishing, as that was their occupation, and they left all that behind to follow Jesus. When we think of fishing today, we often fish with fishing poles and if we don’t like what we catch or it doesn’t meet our expectation, we can throw it back. That is not how these men fished, they cast nets and hauled them back in; whatever was caught in the net was caught. Jesus, it is interesting to note, does this in a Gentile part of the ancient world.

We are all called to cast out the net of hope, peace, joy, love, and Christ in our world; whatever, and whoever, we catch in those nets, we catch. Its not our job to make judgments on them.

We currently live in a time where Christianity is divided; the United States is divided; the world is divided. There are deep wounds.We, being called to be the light and to cast that net, are called to heal these deep wounds. We are called to reach across those things that WE have let divide us in order to seek understanding and reconciliation with our fellow people. Now, its hard to know how to do that sometimes, especially in a world that may feel dark to you, but it starts with caring. That reminded me of a Kid Rock and Martha McBride song “Care”, the refrain is:

’cause I hear
screaming on my left
yelling on my right

I’m sitting in the middle trying to live my life
’cause I can’t stop the war, shelter homeless, feed the poor

I can’t walk on water
I can’t save your sons and daughters
well, I can’t change the world and make things fair
the least that I can do
the least that I can do
the least that I can do is care.

Caring is part of the mission that we have been called into, but the bigger part of that mission is to love and to serve all people. It reminded me of a Garth Brooks song that summarizes the entire point I am trying to make about us being the light of the world. It’s called “People Loving People”:

Doctor you ain’t got a pill
for whatevers making this world ill
You can’t get forgiveness at the store
and peace, its a politician’s war

You can’t find no resolution at the bottom of a bottle,
in the stars, or Aristotle,
the only answer to the problem is…

People loving people
thats the enemy of everything thats evil
ain’t no quick fix at the end of a needle
Its just people loving people
[whoa, whoa, woah, woah]

Words aren’t what they seem to be
talk is cheap but lies are free
we fear what we don’t understand
and we’ve been scared since time began

all the colors and the cultures circle ’round us on a spindle
its a complicated riddle, but the solution is so simple…

Its people loving people
thats the enemy of everything thats evil
ain’t no quick fix at the end of a needle
its just people loving people
[whoa, whoa, whoa, woah]
[whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa]

You can pawn it off on kings and queens
and those behind the curtain
say what can make a difference
in a world so full of hurting
but I believe the remedy starts right here with you and me

People loving people
thats the enemy of everything thats evil
ain’t no quick fix at the need of a needle
its just people loving people
its just people loving people
[whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa]
[whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa]
[whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa]
it just people loving people.

My prayer is that each one of us can cling to hope not in human leaders, but in Christ. That we can more deeply and fully live into our calling to be the light of hope, peace, joy, love, and Christ to the nations. Amen.

Scriptures were Isaiah 9:1-4, 1 Corinthians 1: 10-18, and Matthew 4: 12-23.
Sermon was originally preached on January 22, 2017.

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Posted by on January 23, 2017 in Sermon Summaries

 

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