‘AND YOU WERE SAYING’
Isaiah 12: 2-6
Acts 10: 34-38 & 42-43
January 10, 2020
I am not sure why I didn’t include verse 1 from Isaiah chapter 12 in today’s reading … well, I actually do know why I didn’t because I am using the traditional Common Lectionary Scripture for worship services for today’s readings but after the events of this week VERSE NUMBER ONE, from what we have organized into chapter 12 of the prophet Isaiah, hit me … as I went through the fear, the great sadness, and then into the hours of relief late on Wednesday night being reflective of a day that my best friend Jake called ‘A Beautiful Day’ once the full 24 hours were complete. It was almost a gift of God … as I prepared for today. Of course, I was naturally going to look at verse 1 when I read the Scriptures and there it was in front of me.
The prophet’s words …. Words to remind us but specifically me in that moment that when we get wrapped up in worrying, complaining and yes, sinning … it’s almost like God declaring to us, “And, you were saying, and you were doing, and you were going against me.”
Hear the Word of God again friends … “You will say on that day; I thank You Lord. Though you were angry with me, your anger turned away and You comforted me.” Indeed, how many times should we be saying, singing, and shouting THANK YOU LORD for God’s love for us? We don’t do it enough, I know that.
I will never attempt to box God in nor has God given me a direct link to chat with God and no, God has never sent me a TEXT … not even an e-mail message from the Almighty but I can only imagine that God is angry when human beings created in God’s Holy image erect gallows with a hangman’s noose with the intent to bring harm to individuals merely because the construction crew isn’t happy with an outcome that went against them. The image of a noose is the worst reflection of American historical crimes against other Americans; we all know the stories of the South and the Klan.
That was the platform built on the National Mall on Wednesday … those were the people who were there and they rushed to do harm to men and women elected by the American people to serve this nation including the leaders holding two of the highest offices in the nation; our Vice President and our Speaker of the House of Representatives. As one woman on the mall stated ‘we are here for the revolution,’ and clearly to impose their will on the nation after every court, every election official, and even the Attorney General of the United States stated our elections were valid and without fraud.
God I am sure was angry and sad … God’s creation had again erected a gallows with a noose. ‘Trial by combat’ were the words from the podium not liberty and justice for all.
We know from Scriptures that God gets angry with those of us whom God created to find THE WAY who turn away from God … God has provided Scripture lessons to teach us and to guide us and to verify God’s love for us. God has provided Creation with its wide variety of living creatures that reflect the truth that God is alive and real. And, God sent Jesus … as John wrote ‘THE WORD; the true light that shines in the darkness and the darkness does not extinguish the light. And, those who welcomed Him and those who believe in His name … THE WORD authorized them …. Us … to become God’s children.” And, God even had Jesus teach us the directions for living our lives so that humanity can live as God expects counter to the world’s teachings and directives of world leaders … to clarify any doubts or confusion caused by those human religious leaders or those with power who might attempt to get people to follow them and reject God … those lessons of Jesus and God are easily found in the Gospel lessons that were written down 2000 plus years ago … in today’s nomenclature people say WORD to mean truth well Jesus was THE WORD!
As Mollie will be singing in a minute … ONE POOR CHILD came to save the world … everyone is forgiven now … if we took that love of God and lived that love of God for all of our neighbors then perhaps the words of faith written by John Rzenik might hold true, “I wish everyone was loved tonight and somehow stop this endless fight. Just a chance that we will find better days.” And, you were saying that those who voted differently than you are not as patriotic as you? We know that they are equally loved by God and you are saying, not loved by you?
In our Good News reading today, Luke reports that “Peter said, “I am really learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another. Rather, in every nation, whoever worships God and does what is right and acceptable to God is right and acceptable to Him.” Now, I had picked this Scripture before Wednesday … but in it we are reminded that it’s not our nation … not our politics … not our neighborhood … not our heritage, skin color nor language that matters to God but it is our worship and our faith. We are not to make gods out of other humans nor to bow down before human leaders nor to create symbols in their names but rather to embrace God and to take Jesus Christ on as our Master, Savior and Teacher.
And, you were saying that “those” people … were you? Have you been busy lining up to follow earthly causes of division or individuals who imply that the earthly cause they represent matters more than the teachings of Jesus? … Has more value or is the reason to put others down when the message of God is to love God and love all of our neighbors? If you have been … then perhaps this reading from ACTS is meant for you this morning because that division; that anger and rage; and that unified chant to demean others is clearly not falling in line with the message of God. Peter shares, that “Jesus is the one whom God has appointed to judge the living and the dead. Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”
“So, take these words and sing out loud, ‘Cause everyone is forgiven now.” And, for those who believe … those who follow … those who change … those who love God and love all of their neighbors, which is what God has told us to do because ALL other laws and commandments rest actively on doing those two … if you are willing to truly believe and to insure that your words and actions are words and actions based in faith then that transition for our world begins again as people accepting God’s grace through faith with the hope and promise of Salvation for eternity while being embraced by the peace and love of God in our days here.
And, you were saying that you had to do what? Because that person … that leader … that version of human politics matters more? Time to change … time to discover … time to bring your personal salvation back to an active reality.
The prophet after providing the assurance that God won’t turn away but rather that God will comfort us declares, “GOD IS INDEED MY SALVATION …”
Friends, let’s accept a basic fact this morning … we are all gathered in a worship service because of our awareness of God’s reality whether you are amongst the few who safely can attend church in person or if you have joined us from somewhere in the world.
Since that is our beginning point then the next consideration comes to whether we are connecting the dots that complete the rather simple puzzle that offers us the changed life through God and Christ. FAITH … belief … FAITH with ACTIONS.
Peter clarifies that God’s love and Salvation is not nation-centric, which I would hope we all understood but there are some folks who insist that God’s love and Salvation is jingoistic in nature and reliant on human political powers’ endorsement or on the boundaries that humans created for national divisions. So, friends wherever you are this morning … we are all in God’s nations because God considers the world God’s.
But the next step … it comes with our lives and our words and actually the reflection that others see in us. Are they asking “and you were saying?” Because they were hearing us talk about justice … about loving all of our neighbors and most importantly aligning with God with a love that is as real as our love for any human being? We can’t have puppy love for God … it can’t be just in passing or in specific moments but that love must be complete; it must be real.
Isaiah teaches what it is, “GOD IS MY SALVATION.” That frankly is the easy step … so many people have told me through the years that they raised their hand in church or went forward because they found their salvation but that is where their faith story ends.
But as Isaiah was saying, “God … I will trust in You and not be afraid.” Trust is a challenge but when we trust in God then we trust God to protect us and carry the day for us. Listen to the next teaching, “The Lord is my strength and my shield and has become my Salvation.”
In that Isaiah is weaving the two together so through trust and following God through Jesus Christ our strength is found in the Gospels … they are our shield for living our days on earth because when others toss invectives at us the shield is knowing we are doing what is right …we are living as followers of God not the world. Reading the Gospels to get clarification on how we are to live our lives.
And, by doing that we will join Isaiah, “And, you will say on that day THANK THE LORD; call on God’s name; proclaim God’s deeds among the peoples. Declare that God’s name is exalted. Sing to the Lord who has done glorious things throughout all of the earth!”
Peter tells us, “this is the message of peace God sent by proclaiming the Good News through Jesus Christ; He is Lord of All. We are the witnesses!”
So, as you go through your day … who are you living for? What or who matters to you? Are you comforted by the Holy. What is your choice? ‘Boxes wrapped in strings and empty things’ or that one poor child who came to save the world? AMEN