Sunday, October 4, 2015

World Communion Day sermon "As a Little Child"

Psalm 8, Mark 10, As a Little Child (Sun Valley Presbyterian)
Sunset over Rock River Beloit a few weeks ago 

October 4, 2015 World Communion Sunday Pastor Carol P. Taylor

Psalm 8 (NRSV)

Divine Majesty and Human Dignity

To the leader: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David.

O  Lord, our Sovereign,
        how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
        Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
        to silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
        the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
        mortals  that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
        and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
        you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen,
        and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
        whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O  Lord, our Sovereign,
        how majestic is your name in all the earth!

{Thanks for warm welcome etc... enjoyed working together with VBS and etc}

Psalm 8 is a psalm of David, great king of Jewish people. He lived about 1000 years before the time of Christ.

Sense of majesty of God's creation. We seem small in comparison, yet God cares for us, for each of us! How can that be? That we humans were created especially for relationship with God and with one another and yet our mere fragile bodies seem to be nothing in comparison to the wonders of creation. Out of the mouths of babes...Jesus quotes this verse in Matthew's gospel ch 21,
15But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant.
  16"Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him.
            "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read,
      " 'From the lips of children and infants
            you have ordained praise'?"
Jesus loved children. The Gospels tell us several times that Jesus welcomed children and something very special to say about them. Let's look at one of those passages..
Mark chapter 10, vs 13-16 NRSV

Jesus Blesses Little Children

13  People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them.  14  But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.  15  Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”16  And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Context is important here!
In the preceding chapter, we see the disciples arguing about which of them is the greatest. Jesus tells them, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all."
and “for whoever is not against us is for us.”
Then comes Jesus' teaching on Marriage and Divorce.
this section about the children, is immediately followed by the story of the Rich young ruler, whom Jesus tells him to sell all he has, and the young man walks away, downcast. He treasures his possessions too much. This whole section of the Gospel is about the value of people and relationships. Not possessions. Remember in this time period the societal view of the value of men was their ability to produce goods and services, and the value of women and children was to help that process. Children were very much thought of as “should be seen and not heard” this is why the disciples were shushing and shooing the children away.
Jesus' seems to be telling us here that society has it backwards. That people -all people- have value, the people viewed as 'lowest on the totem pole' so to speak are the most valued. In fact he says adults need to be more like children...

15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it."  Those are Strong words!!

Childlike, or childish! --there's a big difference :D

Children's Letters to God
Dear God,
Thank you for the baby brother but what I asked for was a puppy. Joyce

Dear God,
my Grandpa says you were around when he was a little boy. How far back do you go? Love, Dennis

Dear God,
is it true Daddy won't get in Heaven if he uses his golf words in the house?

Dear God,
maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each other so much if they each had their own rooms. It works out OK with me and my brother. Larry

Dear God,
I didn't think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tuesday night. That was really cool. Thomas

This is the kind of enthusiastic delight that kids have. Did you ever go on a walk with a toddler? “look a bug!” “Look a leaf!” “Another bug!” “ Look a stick!” Every single thing is new and exciting! Tiny things that we take for granted or even consider to be an annoyance is a source of delight to a young child. That is what we see in the letter about the “Cool” purple and orange sunset. That is what we see in our Psalm reading! A pure delight and sense of wonder in God's creation. And a sense of awe that God who made such a variety of creation, should care about individual people, you and me. This is a child-like sense that I believe Jesus wants us to have. It is child LIKE, not childish. There is a big difference!

Childish is immature, emotionally driven behavior. Childlike - loving and appreciative!

Childish is most of what we see on TV Reality shows! And some of the politics....but I really don't want to go there …

Child-like is enthusiasm and enjoyment of what's around us.

Enthusiasm is what small children seem to have in abundance! Did you know the word enthusiasm literally means, God within?

I believe Jesus is telling us to allow to come out...that Joy & appreciation that we have when we have God within us. The Joy that we feel in a good, family feeling church :D the joy of a job well done, for its own sake, not for any praise it may bring us. When we have prayed to take Jesus Christ to be our lord and savior, we literally have God within, through the gift of the Holy spirit. And we can pray today and every day, to remember that joy, that enthusiasm. God LOVES to answer prayers like that!

There was an article in the NY Times online a while back about “the Right way to pray?” it is written by a man ZEV CHAFETS who describes himself as a Jewish Agnostic..raised in the Jewish traditions, but not sure whether there is truly a God or not. For this article, he wanted to experience various traditions. He went to a class where Protestant seminary students are being taught to pray. He interviewed (and was interviewed by) a spiritual trainer, who spoke about finding silent time and seeking the Presence of the Divine. He met with a Rabbi, and a Catholic priest. Both talked about the changes occurring in the past decades, the broadening of worship and prayer practices, and the influence of Eastern religions.
But what really spoke to this writer was his experience on Easter Sunday at a small church in a small town, Berkeley Springs, WV. As the choir rehearsed before worship, he sat in a pew jotting notes. He noticed a young girl writing in a notebook and she told him she wants to be a reporter too. As he talked with her and showed her how to write her name in Hebrew other kids came over as well. And they talked about their prayers.
He wrote: “They didn’t need R...prayer techniques, or the high-tech mantras... Their prayers weren’t..offered to whom it may concern. They didn’t pray to de-center their egos or find transcendence or to set off on a lifelong therapeutic spiritual journey. They prayed to a God with whom they were on a first-name basis, and they believed their prayers gave them power, which they used on behalf of their asthmatic sisters and infirm grandparents and a kid they knew with burns on his body. (Zev continued) Sitting in church on Easter morning, I realized that I was probably never going to become a praying man. But if, by some miracle, I ever do, I hope my prayers will be like the prayers of the kids I met at the Love church in Berkeley Springs. Straight up{prayers} on behalf of people who really need the help.”

My friends, we live in a world that needs straight up Prayers. We may not comprehend how this world works, any more than a little child comprehends where the bugs and sticks come from!

This week a mass murderer in Oregon targeted Christians. It's appalling. We may never know what was in the mind of this man, or how he was unable to have the kind of psychiatric care he needed. Certainly we pray for his loved ones, who grieve his death along with his actions. We pray for the families of those who were murdered. But there is violence happening every day. People do not have enough to eat, a safe place to sleep. People act as if no one else matters and “SELF” must get ahead at any cost. And Jesus weeps. I believe Jesus weeps every single day, over this country as He wept over Jerusalem. Because Jesus came to show us the Kingdom of God. God's kingdom is a place of Shalom. Peace. The perfect peace of God, which is no violence of any sort, everlasting peace! But Shalom is also safety and protection, well-being for all of God's creation, completeness and harmony, perfect harmony. That is what Jesus came to earth to bring. And we can approach this shalom when we live our faith, in childlike wonder. We live in hard times, violence, divisiveness and anger everywhere. If we do everything WE can to live our faith, we shine a light into the darkness and the darkness can not comprehend that light. So we keep on living in the Light. Look! I have faith! I bring you a meal. I bring you a Vacation Bible school lesson. I bring you back packs filled with school supplies by volunteers from 12 churches in Beloit! Look! Its God's kingdom breaking out here in Beloit!!

We are about to take communion today, on a day when Christians all over the world are partaking. It may be called The Eucharist or Lord's Supper, depending on tradition. It may be served with wine or grape juice, with a flat bread, a loaf, or wafers. But no matter how it is done, it all based on a tradition instituted by Jesus at a meal commemorating the Passover.

Author Henri Nouwen wrote:
The two disciples whom Jesus joined on the road to Emmaus recognised him in the breaking of the bread. What is a more common, ordinary gesture than breaking bread? It may be the most human of all human gestures: a gesture of hospitality, friendship, care, and the desire to be together. Taking a loaf of bread, blessing it, breaking it, and giving it to those seated around the table signifies unity, community, and peace. When Jesus does this he does the most ordinary as well as the most extraordinary. It is the most human as well as the most divine gesture.
The great mystery is that this daily and most human gesture is the way we recognise the presence of Christ among us. God becomes most present when we are most human.

When we recognize God's presence, especially when we are most in need of it, then we in turn want to share it with others. We do this reaching out to one another in prayer in gratitude. Take a moment each day to enjoy God's wonder. The color of the leaves, the stunning blue sky, the purple and orange of the sunset! We can bring our prayers for ourselves and each other and for the world to Him, as a little child. Because of the Love of God expressed through the Life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have God within. We can ask, as a little child, for more appreciation and joy in all of God's creation. Take a moment to thank God for Shalom and ask help in bringing it to others, With a smile, with the Love of Christ. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with US! 

No comments:

Post a Comment