THE SEASON FOR YOU and ME
First Corinthians 1: 18-25
JOHN 2: 13-22

One of my Sunday wake up alarms … yes, I have more than one … is the great EDWIN HAWKINS HIT – ‘OH HAPPY DAY.’  It was recorded in 1967 at the Ephesians Church of God in Christ in Berkeley California.  It was released to the public in 1969 and became the 4th most popular song of its time in the United States.  In Germany it became the number 1 hit song, in the United Kingdom and in Canada and in Ireland it was number two and amongst US R&B Hip Hop songs it was also number 2.

OH HAPPY DAY had music competition that year including the ROLLING STONES Honky Tonk Woman, Sly and the Family’s HOT FUN in the SUMMERTIME, THE TEMPS I Can’t Get Next to You some group from England called the BEATLES singing GET BACK, CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL, Johnny Cash singing about a BOY NAMED SUE, and even ELVIS.

But Edwin, who passed away two months ago, what he did …. He sang about what mattered … he didn’t hold back … do you know the lyrics … do you know what the world was singing in the Spring of 1969 … the LENTEN SEASON of 1969 as Easter approached … do you know what was sung by high school students … college students … junior high students like me …

OH HAPPY DAY (Oh Happy Day), OH HAPPY DAY (Oh Happy Day), WHEN JESUS WASHED (When Jesus Washed), WHEN JESUS WASHED … my sins away … OH HAPPY DAYS!   He taught me how to watch, fight and pray, fight and pray … and live rejoicing every every day.  OH HAPPY DAY!

So, my friends are you singing in this season of Lent how happy you are because Jesus washed away your sins?  That you are rejoicing each day because Jesus taught you to fight injustice and pray rather than doing all you can to defend what the world wants you to stand up for?  Imagine …the world singing OH HAPPY DAYS!  High school students … college students … young and old … singing night and day … OH HAPPY DAY … JESUS HAS WASHED MY SINS AWAY … gonna live rejoicing every single day.

Have you come to this season of Lent and declared it is your season of faith … that on the worldly calendar are you embracing Jesus the Christ and His message of love and peace … are you declaring that your sins have been washed away … are you praying … or are you giving in … letting the world tell you to join in the injustices that thrive outside this building?   Frankly, most folks who attend church aren’t about to sing OH HAPPY DAY JESUS HAS WASHED MY SINS AWAY outside their safe closed gathering at church … many find celebrating something other than Jesus messages more important to their lives.  But, this is the SEASON of FAITH for you and for me … today is a day when we once again come to the TABLE OF THE LORD.

We heard how Jesus said NO to those in power were allowing those who were totally disconnected from the Passover … totally separate from God’s worship … to still make money and enjoy power that ran counter to God.  Jesus stood up … He drove them from the Temple.  He forecast what would happen during Passover just a few short years later … Jesus would destroy the temple and raise it up again in 3 days.

Are you thinking about Easter this Lenten season?  Are you remembering each day that Jesus washed your sins away … do you want to sing out OH HAPPY DAY each and every day?  Are you living your life making God’s call the important one .. love God … love neighbors or do you have something else that matters more that causes you to push up against God … well this is the season for you and me to get closer to God and further away from whatever it is that makes us lessen God in favor of something that this world pushes at us … it is the season to get closer to the cross, it is the season of Lent and for many of us that means it is a season to struggle with the individuals we each have become … whether we are the pastor or the FACEBOOK viewer … we all have a reason to confess our sins to God … we all have sins that need to be forgiven … all too many have other gods that matter more and that we are quick to defend  those gods if they are attacked or criticized with a fervor that only the true God deserves.

OH HAPPY DAYS … could that song reach the airwaves today and would the people of the world purchase it excitedly to hear the promise of Jesus Christ on their smart phones?  It’s on mine …

Speaking of SMART PHONES … I listen to a number of PodCasts usually when I am driving and one of my favorites is about food.  This history of food, the use of food, and all about the people who produce our food.  This week’s podcast was all about a food staple that I love … MUSTARD.  In my cupboard and refrigerator I have  [OPEN UP GROCERY BAG and start to remove items one by one and place on the altar rail.] FRENCH’s YELLOW MUSTARD, I have Dijon Mustard made with Chardonnay, I have Gulden’s Spicy Brown Mustard, I have mustard powder, I have brown mustard seeds and yellow mustard seeds and I have the world’s best mustard, which has horseradish blended in and is made exclusively in BUFFALO NEW YORK … Weber’s Mustard.

Now, I am showing you my mustard collection because the topic of the week was mustard.  But, I didn’t bring my collection of mustards here to church to share a recipe that taught on that pod cast.  I am bringing them here because the hosts of this pod cast pretty much celebrated their lack of faith in God … I was shocked.

The one host said as a child she remembers having to go to church with her Roman Catholic grandmother.  That grandmother gave her a charm bracelet with all kinds of religiousness symbols and one was this small seed.  The host said, I think that meant the Bible talks about mustard.  The other host quickly jumped in and said that she never has gone to church but that she thinks Jesus taught some lesson about a mustard seed that was about how big the mustard plant grows.  They both laughed and agreed they really don’t know because neither are what they referred to as believers.

So, in 50 years … we have gone from OH HAPPY DAYS to radio hosts laughing about faith.  And, Jesus said about the kingdom of God here on earth …

It is like the mustard seed [[TAKE OUT A MUSTARD SEED]], which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground.  Yet, when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”

My friends … is this Lenten Season the season for you and me to draw closer to our God?  Is this a season where you are going to repent … where your love of something of this earth needs to be lessened because it matters more than Jesus washing your sins away?

When you look at the shrinking churches … where are the planters of mustard seeds?  When you notice that children are not in church and that young people are growing more and more unaware of the Good News … does that matter enough to you to become someone who plants the seeds of faith beyond the moments of worship?

Are you listening to those thriving in their personal wisdom of the world that Paul notes God has made foolish or are you sharing the message of the cross?  The power of God … runs counter to the wisdom of the world … but would you rather be of the world or of God?

The lesson of the mustard seed taught by Jesus is one of the few lessons that are in 3 of the 4 Gospels.  Obviously, it was a message that matters even if those radio hosts were laughing about it.

So in this Lenten season hear Jesus again,

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed … nothing will be impossible for you.” 

Let us make this Lenten Season the season for you and me … let us pray as individuals, read Scripture, fast, worship together … make God our priority … and strengthen or regain our faith so that nothing will be impossible for us and we can begin to change the world bringing back the Christ message to young and old so that all can sing OH HAPPY DAY!!!  WHEN JESUS WASHED MY SIN AWAY …

AMEN

Watch a video of today’s worship service:

©2018 St. Paul's United Methodist Church, West Deptford, NJ