It’s Social Media … To God Be the Glory
Jeremiah 31: 31-34
JOHN 12: 20-33
We will glorify the King of Kings … Glorify thy name … To God be the Glory … great things God has done.
Glory is very great praise, honor, or distinction given by common consent. Renown, admiration. The New Testament Greek word that is used is “doxa” which carries the idea of judgment … an active decision that is made by the person or persons giving glory. It’s about splendor and brightness.
I would argue that giving glory … glorifying anyone … to declare to GOD be the glory is an experience filled with a positive spirit. It’s hard to be glum if you’re giving glory … it’s hard to be fiddling with your smart phone if you want to Glorify the King of Kings … I’d say it is impossible to be wrapped up in checking the time, thinking about dinner … we are having an Irish meal for dinner tonight that is roasted pepper fish with a tomato-basil relish … salmon for Megan and Donna and haddock for me and depending on the timing we might add Driscoll’s Irish pudding for dessert. All of which you can find served in a pub in Dublin and we had corned beef … oh wait, we aren’t here to talk about food … we are here to pause in the 21st century reality to give God the Glory worthy of more than just a momentary social media glance that keeps us moving on to the next Tweet or Snapchat moment of focused brevity.
To worship God … to give God the glory … on this today when the twins have been baptized into the church of the Holy Creator … I believe we are in a place where joy should be filling each and every face … not because life has made each of us happy out there but because in these few moments you get to leave that stuff behind and we join with others by common consent – – GLORY to GOD … GLORY to Jesus the Christ King of Kings … an active decision that what matters for this hour … or two if my sermon really goes long today is that God the Creator – God who loves all of us deserves our praise and glory!
We are in the season of Lent. We are in the walk that is quickly moving us towards the top of the Mount of Olives overlooking the City of Jerusalem … if you knew Jesus was close by today … would you sacrifice your time for His glory? Would you shout HOSANNA HOSANNA to the King of Kings?
In today’s Gospel reading … you do remember the Gospels? 123 pages in this Bible … one can probably read at least two chapters from the Good News of Jesus Christ in the time that it takes to open up the link that shows a dog doing silly tricks on Facebook or to read all the comments following the posting of a political meme that you either agree with or disagree with. If you are going to post to social media … does your composition require so much of your time so that the choices come down to social media or giving God the glory and honor by reading God’s Word and Facebook always wins? I ask each of you here today … when was the last time you gave up 15 minutes at home to read God’s Holy Word? Not an hour, not 45 minutes, not even a half hour … and I am not talking about giving up that much time daily … when was the last time you gave up 15 minutes of your precious time and would you ever give equal time to God’s glory as you give to social media. And, I can tell you … you can put God’s Holy Word right here on your SmartPhone … the Bible available right next to SnapChat and Pinterest. It is the season of Lent a time of reflection and decision making as to whether giving up some of ourselves for God has any value … I can tell you it has everlasting worth!
Anyhow, I was about to share what Jesus said in today’s Gospel lesson. In these times we live in perhaps we need to listen if we are busy declaring that we are Christians …
“Those who love their lives will lose them … whoever serves me must follow me. My Father will honor whoever serves me.”
In the spirit of this weekend, the young man who travelled to Ireland as a missionary whom we have come to know as Patrick said,
“If I have any worth it is to live my life for God.”
I am here to state something that has troubled me for years … to challenge each of you who have made a pledge today to insure that the beautiful baby girl and that handsome baby boy are surrounded by God, Christ and the church for their formative years … you promised, you pledged but I want you to think about this as we get close to the cross of Jesus … Good Friday’s horror when we need to consider whether we are in a place that we could scream out MY GOD MY GOD … WE HAVE FORSAKEN YOU!
The God of Creation … the God who sent Jesus to give us clear lessons on living … we can find Jesus own words in those 123 pages. Jesus who then died for our sins, rose up on Easter, ascended into heaven where His love for us continues, and He’ll be back one day.
The prophet Jeremiah talks of a time … he writes of a reality that is connected to the HUMAN ONE of the Trinity … Father, Son, Holy Spirit but it is in Jesus that we each have our potential … it is through Jesus that we each can find forgiveness for the enormity of our sins … it is because of Jesus that the highway to heaven is tied to what’s in our hearts rather than a more complicated formulation of theological testing and examination. The prophet talks about it … did you listen as Dana read the Scripture of old that is just as true today?
“This is a covenant I make with my people declares The Lord. I will put my Instructions within them and engrave them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. They will no longer need to teach each other to say “Know the Lord!” Because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest … I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins.”
Friends … my urgent question today. As we are gathered here in church … are you here to worship and praise the Most High? God Almighty? Maker of heaven and earth? GLORIFY GOD? Is this morning’s celebration of Holy Baptism truly holy to and for you? Is God relative in your life … does God’s love resonate in your heart? Are you one of those whose heart has been engraved or is this just a phase … a notation in social media that you sang To God be the Glory when the truth … when your truth, your life, your priorities, your lust for the earthly stuff … your timing … your precious seconds … means that you are unable to raise the rafters of a holy place in praise and glory because the side conversations and the checking of the internet carry more value than God’s precious gift to all of us?
I was once at a worship service where the preacher handed out little mirrors to all of us. He asked us to hold the mirror up to our faces … not to admire what pretty and handsome people we are but to look ourselves right in the eye. He asked who we were looking at. Michael Jackson sang,
“I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways.”
Now, I can tell you that every pastor … every priest … every rabbi … every imam who has ever preached a sermon gets the joy of looking at our congregation’s faces. We see the pretty faces, the handsome faces, the energized eyes, smiles every time Jesus is mentioned, the sleepy eyes, the checks of social media, the sidebar conversations, the absence of joy or praise, the look of when will I get out of here. Yes, we see it all. And, yet each person who attends a worship service has given the implication that they have arrived to worship and glorify God. To boldly and happily agree with St. Patrick who said,
“I am certain my my heart, that all that I am, I have received from God. Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort me and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet ….”
We are one week away from Palm Sunday … Palm Sunday at this church will be a celebration of Jesus Christ … Hosanna’s … praises … joy … if you can imagine what it would be like someday if the Philadelphia Eagles ever won the Super …. Oh wait, they did didn’t they … well I want you in this season of Lent to consider whether your joy at the victory in Jesus is as great as your joy, is your energy level for God above what you showcased when that ball dropped to the ground in the end zone and the clock ticked to zero? Do you praise and glorify the Creator of the universe with terms of greater affection and praise than you offer in praise of Nick Foles, Carson Wentz and Coach Doug Pederson? Do you understand the difference?
Will you keep your pledge to this family? To the twins? To God? Can you utilize your social media as the means of giving God the Glory by sharing Scripture by standing up for God’s priorities?
“The time has come for the Human One to be glorified.”
Jesus whose sacrifice we remember on Good Friday … whose love and power we recognize amidst chocolate baskets from rabbits on Easter morning …
Are you ready to give God the glory? Have you made … are you willing to make … the conscious decision to declare what St. Patrick stated …
“I pray to God to give me perseverance that I be a faithful witness to Him, Jesus Christ, to the end of my life for my God.”
Friends … to GOD by the GLORY … great things God has done! AMEN
May the strength of God pilot us, may the wisdom of God instruct us, may the hand of God protect us, may the Word of God direct us. Be always ours this day and for evermore! In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit … go in peace!
Watch a video of today’s worship service: