CATCH THE PRIZE
Ephesians 5: 9-17
PSALM 51: 1-15
August 5, 2018 AT THE RIVER
“Some times … late; when things are real and people share the gift of gab between themselves. Some are quick to take the bait and catch the perfect price that waits among the shells.”
Have you ever walked along the ocean counting shells and watching for the perfect shell to show up? Some of us put those shells in our pockets; some end up on dressers or in bookcases; and some even end up in art projects while others eventually chip and fall out of our possession returning to nature where they had their beginning.
When I step onto the green grass of this park I always gaze over to the city. Philadelphia is our city but if I was in Hoboken I’d be looking at New York City and if I was hanging out on Grand Island New York where some friends are camping right now Buffalo would be the city. And, when I look at a city I think about the faceless; I wonder who is hurting; who is hungry; who is seeking a fix; and yes who is having a dinner I could never afford.
In my life’s journey I have been fortunate to have travelled and witnessed crowds of poor in a dusty market place just outside of Kampala. I have seen the gleaming blue Mediterranean from the beaches of Tel Aviv and seen just how green the Emerald Isle is.
And, friends in my travels; in your journey’s; and throughout this world there are so many options and choices. Good shells; bad shells … choices for us to make. What are we picking up? What matters to you and to me?
Paul made it clear … “WAKE UP FROM YOUR SLEEP; Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! Use your head and make the most of every chance you get … these are desperate times.”
As a pastor I have frequently been asked about the human condition … are there inherently bad people with no options other than be filled with hate for others and all too ready to condemn even the kindest amongst us. I stand here tonight to argue that the human condition is conditioned … God didn’t declare that there were only some of us created in the Holy Image … God declared that ALL humanity both men and women were created to be fitting for God. Therefore it’s our choice whether to catch the prize of Jesus Christ from amongst all the choices in life … it is our free choice to discover God amongst all the bright shells along life’s beach front.
When Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell wrote Tin Man I am sure they didn’t think about a sermon but their line ”But Oz didn’t give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn’t already have” to be is the truth of who we are … life doesn’t give us a heart to love all of our neighbors; to love God … We have those essential elements for living life as people of faith from God. Cause wasn’t the reason for an evening on God’s shores but God made a move that God determined was needed because God’s people were slipping away.
Spinning round and round and round image going down down soap sud green like bubbles … the True God; the Creator God as David declared GENEROUS in LOVE God gave grace!
David wrote the Psalm after committing several sins that violated those big Ten Commandments and he was calling on God to scrub away his guilt and soak out his sins … so God decided to give all of us the opportunity to get a fresh start … ALL of HUMANITY since we all are created in the Holy Image.
Don’t you need a fresh start from time to time … isn’t it easy to forget that the world never did give nothing to us that we didn’t already have right here in our hearts … and in our minds … and in our souls. In the chaos of our lives we need to escape the chaos of life … we need to stop spinning round the round … we need to hold tight to the ANSWER that God gives us through Jesus Christ …
God’s Love permeates if we pay attention… the bait is right there … the reality and truth of Jesus Christ … His teachings alone should wake the common man up … his healing .. His death and Resurrection… As Paul wrote, OUT in the OPEN… no more stumbling around. Time to rip the covers off the world’s frauds empowered by hate and lies Paul says “EXPOSE THESE THINGS for the SHAM THEY ARE. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness. These are desperate times.”
So, those shells … those people over there … those of us here in the park … each just a number for the human condition to consider but the real prize is available for all. As I stand here … I want to hope … I truly want to believe that you are in the in-crowd that you are amongst those basking in the sunlight of the tropic of Sir Galahad. That you have sensed the light … you have caught the prize and hold Jesus Christ tight in your hearts.
But, that’s not the end of the story … because we as believers are not to water our time on useless work … mere busy work … the barren pursuits of darkness. We need to be the ones who show those living in the darkness that they too will look attractive in the light of Jesus Christ. They already have it in themselves to believe … the heart just like the Tin Man’s never went away … it’s just that the world’s rust has covered it up.
And, tonight if the rust is covering your heart in the light it’s time to scrape it away … rip it off of you … let the bright light of Christ make your way plain! CHRIST WILL SHOW YOU THE LIGHT … Christ will bring anyone in the gray exile fresh wind in our sails … a holiness awaits … a fresh start … a clean bill of health …
So as Dewey and Gerry sang but God calls out incessantly while showing us the light for our hearts that have always been there … SO PLEASE BELIEVE IN ME.