Monday, February 27, 2012

God Promised, Genesis 9:8-17, Psalm 25, Mark 1:9-15

(The following sermon, delivered 2/26 is in modified outline form.)

Where /what last journey you took? How did you prepare? (Where did you go?)     (How did you prepare?)
Story: there were two friends who went on a weekend trip. One packed an overnight bag and the other opened her car to reveal a ‘trunk’ to rival Harry Potter’s. Have you known or been that friend?
Some are minimalists, others believe in preparing for any & every eventuality...(“including with the friend I mentioned who prepared for, famine, prohibition, power outage, a strike by the garment-makers union, and the cessation of all magazine publishing.” said her friend.) Carol Noren Minister’s Annual (Inver Grove Hgts, MD: Logos, 2011) 272  
My daughter speaks/blogs about learning how to pack as a GS: outfits in zip-lock bags, socks inside your shoes, extra pants b/c you WILL get in a  mud or food fight, and “never forget your poncho or you will be forced to wear a trashbag with holes cut out for head and arms.”
How do YOU pack for a journey?

40 days of Lent; We have begun the Journey.
(4 days into it) Our preparation is much like preparing a suitcase. What we need for Lent is a subset of what we need for the Journey of Life.
Time of preparing; similar to Advent but with a different feel.
2 weeks ago we talked about what discipline we needed to get ready. Now that we are here, I want to
spend a little time paying attention to WHERE we are going, WHY we are excited about it, along with WHAT kind of commitment we need to get there. .
LENT is a Spiritual Journey, and so is LIFE
Do you know the saying, "if you don’t know where you are going you will likely get there"
when I asked about the discipline you would choose, I offered some choices based on
whether you needed to discipline your head or your heart
to listen to your gut or exercise your hands
now I ask you to visualize your journey.
1st, where are you going? where is your destination? . .
Whether you think in terms of heaven or hell..or
a return to God, the place from which we come..or

Now, answer; What is The truth of your life?
This is a who are you?  question. In a single sentence if possible.
(WRITE IN A SENTENCE) Open your bulletin, see blank section in the middle. Use it to write your sentence. Who/ what truth of your life?
I am . . .  (What is unique & exciting about you?)
    Until we know who we are individually, hard to know who we are collectively.
hard for us to determine, Who we are as church? &
    Where WE are going.
hard for us to be examples for children and youth, or friends who look to us for help, guidance.
Hold onto your sentence while we explore the scriptures you heard today. (Briana read 4 us)
Trans Scriptures are the stories of people who struggled to know who they were as children of God
& how they fit into the story of all creation.
We we listen, we learn that in their struggles they discovered their truth.

you heard; Texts: Genesis 9: 8-17, Ps. 25: 1-10, Mark 1: 9-15
Let’s see if we can discover the TRUTH OF EACH TEXT (Clue; look at the sermon title)
Genesis 9; call it = Noah lands, God promises
Tail end of Noah’s story; even w/o great background in the Bible, most of us know this story = the great flood, all on earth destroyed except Noah, his family, and 2 of every kind.
This is a story from the ‘Priestly’ tradition (Several different story lines combined in much of the OT.) It has certain characteristics;

Those of you who study the great stories of cultures may recognize that in the NearEast cultures, turbulent water was a symbol of ultimate chaos (Dianne Bugant, exegetical, Feasting on the Word, Bartlett and Taylor, eds. (Louisville:WJK, 2008) 27)

Divine beings were often pictured as warriors and in this case, the greatest warrior of all, our God, hangs up his bow and offers humanity/ ALL creation actually, a promise.
Unilateral Promise: only God is obligated and bow is a reminder to God more than to people.

Flood turns out to be an opportunity for a new beginning for ALL creation.
Daniel Schowalter says, this story is; “Not about destruction, disobedience, or confusion, rather it’s an opportunity to picture God, human beings, and all creatures of earth in a harmonious relationship. It’s A covenant moment rare in the biblical narrative, and certainly one worth recapturing today.” (Daniel Schowalter New Proclamation 2005-06 (Minn:Fortress,2005) 148)

Truth of Noah’s story is God’s promise of a new beginning, a fresh start without threat of further world-wide destruction. (Good news for everyone’s journey.)

Psalm 25; subtitled is a ‘primer’
Psalms are hard for anyone not a poet, not used to looking for meaning in the verses of a song. 
I remember a backyard camp out where a bunch of young teen girls listened to a “whiter shade of pale” for endless hours trying to figure it out.
Ps. 25 is for students on the journey with God, who want to learn.

It is an acrostic; each line beings with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet..aleph, bet, gimmel, dalet, hey, vav, zion, het and chet...
It is more than a more familiar song about prayer or spiritual seeking, it is a psalm of instruction. (made easy to recite by use of the alphabet)

It mentions the student’s love of learning God’s way,
it gives thanks for forgiveness which also references Israel’s history; (1 verse past our reading) & the great sin of the golden can look for that truth later
Reminds: that God commits to love and teach God’s children despite our being hard-headed. (More good news for me.) (Stephen Cook, exegetical Feasting On The Word, (Louisville:WJK,2008) 35)
If look at whole picture of Ps.25 it connects us to salvation history; the story of God’s action to reach out and save.
God offers everyone a new beginning - when WE commit to the journey.
yet we also see from psalmist that the journey of faith in God is a risk.
we are not used to RISK IN FAITH.
Where Job grew up.. . .persecution, he understands risk
Old Brethren saw the risk as the danger of becoming too “worldly” -
it’s a battle still seen clearly in Amish world (& in some ways is still lived out in the struggles of our denom.)
For most of us, if we recognize a battle, it is within; “a struggle between self-interest and God’s interest” and we too often limit God’s interest to Sunday.

It’s hard for us to see there IS a risk to the Journey of Faith, that when we take THIS TRIP, we must be willing to give up our entire self to travel to a destination some will not understand.
 Truth= the JOURNEY IS a risk; you may have to alienate what was ONCE true for you and take on God’s truth which is not about you at all. . . . but With the risk, comes God’s promise. .Truth is you will find excitement when u travel with God. Are you prepared for risk?

Mark 1 (when we get to Mark, we are where the action is)
Jesus’ story begins anew with his baptism which offers new life to all of us.
Jesus’ public act of entering the water brings creation from the chaos of the crazy world of the 1st century. For him and for all Xians who come after, his baptism marks the END of an OLD world and the beginning of a NEW one; a new creation that began to break in (as Mark likes to describe the tearing of the heavens) and is still breaking in today.

With Jesus’ life all the “Old obligations, to temple, priests, Herod, & Rome, were cancelled, for all who repent and follow him into God’s rule.” (Stanley Saunders Feasting p.49) the TRUTH behind this part of Jesus’ great story is that God will bless and equip us for ministry when we’ve made the commitment to be a new creation.

Turns out Mark is into preparing us for the Journey.
his “purpose is not to lay out a sophisticated understanding of what it means to believe in Jesus but to alert readers early in the gospel that they should be most concerned about whether or not they are prepared for the coming of God’s rule.” (New Proc. p. 153)

These are 3 stories of  God’s promise/ a Covenant of new beginnings = GREAT TRUTH.
a story about and an end and a new beginning, a poem about life-long learning and RISK.  Jesus’ story offering a new beginning to the whole world, once again.

Let’s jump from these stories to yours. Play your story forward:
what destination will you reach at the end?
what has your journey to and with God been like? (What do you WANT it to be like?)
How does the truth of your life fit into the Promise of God? and the offer of a new beginning?

Two weeks ago, I asked if you ever have the nagging feeling that the Christian life is about more than just being ‘good’?

Relating the TRUTH of the biblical stories to our lives is where we learn the roots of our faith.
Then we must take this head knowledge, accept it’s truth for our hearts/souls and ACT on it with our lives. This is the commitment of Faith, that begins with baptism continues for our whole lives.
Our story is the TRUTH we are living today.

We discover ‘who we are’ by Relating our TRUTH to God’s Truth. then we find we are prepared with suitcase full of enough Grace for our journey, enough Courage for every eventuality, and the Ultimate promise that will carry us the whole way, ...from THIS Journey to the Next.

Introspection is part of Lenten travel - What did you learn about the TRUTH of your life today?
Where does God’s promise enter YOUR story?

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