From the Desktop of the Pastor – week of the 2nd Sunday in Lent

Hi everyone,

So there has been something that has been weighing on my mind for a bit, and for a while I’ve chosen to just ignore it but it keeps coming back like a stubborn itch and demands that I look at it again and go through the process of thinking and denying and ultimately ignoring again.  But this time around, this thing came from a higher source and I am really thinking hard about how to handle it.

Basically, the church council asked me to make my sermons available online on our church website for people to access.

You probably thought something more serious?  Like maybe I was thinking about moving?  Having another kid?  Perhaps a tattoo?  No, just posting stuff online.

It may seem like not a big deal, but I do struggle with it.  I suppose the thought of my sermons being out there online for all of eternity is scary, because I’ll be the first to admit that my sermons aren’t always stellar (like today’s… if you were here you’d know… it was a stinker) and so putting it up online for essentially anyone to see is a bit daunting.  Almost like airing out dirty laundry (I know I’m using that term wrong, but I’m talking literally putting dirty laundry on a clothesline and having anyone walk by to see).

But, I’m at a point where I know I’m likely more self-conscious about it than I should be, and that the number of people who would actually refer to them could be counted by the fingers on one hand (including thumbs).

Now, the question is whether I should post up the manuscript (full text) or an audio clip.  I’m leaning towards audio, as a sermon is supposed to be heard, not read (that actually goes through my mind as I write).  If any of you have strong feelings either way, feel free to drop me a line and we can figure out what works best for the majority of people.

Let’s look at the readings for the 2nd Sunday in Lent :
Genesis 12:1-4
Psalm 121
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
John 3:1-17

What a week to talk about fears and anxiety.  I know, posting something online that may or may not even be looked at isn’t as scary as packing everything up and skipping town like Abraham did, but anxiety is anxiety.  Fear is fear.  At the same time, faith is faith.

That’s what I see in these texts, at least.  I see that faith isn’t something that allows us or grants us the peace that is talked about, but rather faith is the verb we use to describe the trust that could be there in the promise that the peace is already there.  So while we think we need to increase our faith or to make strong our faith or we need to have any kind of faith at all, I don’t see that as the deciding factor of God fulfilling God’s promises of grace and mercy and that God will always be with us in our fears and anxieties.

So yeah, Abraham had some major faith to be able to be all Abraham-like, but that is not why God blessed him.  Rather, it was because Abraham was able to see how much God already blesses that he was able to trust that there is peace in God.  I know that is easier said than done, but I think it is important for us to understand the difference between thinking that faith can be a result of blessing, rather than blessing a reward for faith.

I think this is what Jesus means when he speaks of being “born from above,” in that we are changed and renewed in our trust when we see and can recognise God’s gifts in our lives and in the lives of others.  When we can look at life and know that God is working because of all the ways that God makes that apparent, then we know that there is a peace even in the anxieties.  When we take a step back and count our blessings so to speak, then we know that there is a place where we can put our faith, a place that is strong, secure, and solid, and our fears can be cast away for we will know who holds the future.

This isn’t a call out to stop being scared.  But this is a reminder that our fears need not last.  For we have a God who is bigger than all our fears, larger than all our insecurities, stronger than all our weaknesses, a God who holds us in the palm of God’s hand, a God who already grants us peace and blessing even before we understood what faith is, and this is something that we can put our trust in.  Thanks be to God!

Have a great week, everyone!