Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Vision

Last week or so ago, the parents of a bride whose wedding was called off gave the reception to 200 homeless people in Atlanta. 200 homeless women, men, and children were fed a banquet like none other through the teamwork of the mother and father of the bride and Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless, an international organization with deep roots in Georgia.
What an amazing gift to be able to share,
for both the bride-not-to-be and the homeless to be fed on that day.
Her parents are wonderful examples of people changing the world through their vision and their action.

Jeremiah and Baruch from our first lesson today also make wonderful role models of people who are faithful to their vision and in their actions, despite their situations.
Jeremiah is imprisoned
in a city under siege
by a powerful foreign army.
Things are not looking good for the fate of Jerusalem or Jeremiah.
Yet, God gives him a vision of the future which does not end in destruction. Jeremiah is entrusted with a vision of the future
and he believes in it.
But God's calling for Jeremiah does not end with belief in the vision, Jeremiah is called to exercise his belief. Jeremiah must show his belief through his actions, despite the discouraging situations of siege and imprisonment. So when his cousin Hanamel offers him the chance to buy some land outside he city, Jeremiah takes it. Jeremiah knows that all is not lost, Jeremiah has a vision of the land in the future, and he charges Baruch, his scribe, to help him hold the deeds for this land, to help him hold onto the vision in which the land will be fruitful and useful once again in a very physical way.

In a similar way, we have been entrusted with the vision of God's kingdom that Jesus preached and taught in the gospels. In a similar way, we have been invited to exercise our belief in that vision with physical acts in this world. Figuring out how we can participate in that vision is part of the role of being a good steward of the vision. For each of us, this participation will be different and it takes real discernment through prayer, discussion, challenge, and trial and error to learn the best and most fulfilling way which each of us can participate in that vision.

The gospel lesson today challenges how we have been striving for the vision of God's kingdom on earth.
It purposefully leaves the ending open,
waiting for our response to the story.
What will we do? Will we be like the rich man?
Will we be one of the rich man's brothers, ignoring the voices of the prophets?

This is how Jesus invites us into the story and invites us to envision a different future. However, once we have a new vision, we need to move towards that vision. Like the rich man's brothers, we are still in this world, trying to figure out the best way to live in the world with faith.
But we do not always find it easy to follow the directions we are given. The world calls us to gather things, phones, computers, cars, hair products, clothing, to ourselves and wants us to make sure we have the latest update, so that we have the best phone, computer, car that we could possibly have. But the prophets call us to strive for the betterment of the poor, the hungry, and the needy. Despite having Jesus come to us and knowing that he has died and has risen from the dead, we still are hesitant about integrating the vision of the kingdom of God into our lives.
It takes guts.
It takes courage to be,
courage to be hurt or turned away.
It takes courage to step out in faith, to yearn for a vision which we cannot always see clearly.
It takes faith and trust,
faith that the vision is true and trust that what we are doing to follow that vision is actually helping that vision.

The gifts that we share in giving money to the church is not the only action we do in order to stay faithful to the vision of God's kingdom with which we have been charged. Every week members serve the community by reading to the children in the Reading Room. Every week we confess our sins and are reminded of the forgiveness that God has already given us. Every week we celebrate the Eucharist, recalling Christ's presence among us in the here and now, remembering the love that God has shown us.

And all of this sharing costs us.
It does.
We could all be having breakfast in bed on Sunday mornings instead. We could all be kayaking at Nickajack lake in the fresh morning air. Striving for the God's kingdom will cost you time, it will cost you money, it will cost you your ease. But recognizing the cost of all your decisions for God shouldn't be negative. This gives us a reason to realize and examine our priorities.
Jesus started nothing less than a revolution
and we are part of it.
We are called to frame our priorities with the vision of God's kingdom in mind.

This revolution is not only about Thankful Memorial,
it is not only about the East Tennessee Diocese,
its not only about the Episcopal Church of the USA,
its about the whole world.

We are called to share this vision, with and without words, throughout the world. How you do that yourself is up to you.
The possibilities are endless.
Perhaps you will pay for someone else's coffee tomorrow morning. Perhaps you will buy some extra cans of vegetables at the grocery store and give them to the food bank. Perhaps you will start a conversation with a friend about your vision of the world. This church community does offer ways for you to get involved, but so does this city, and I hope that Thankful is not the only place in which you strive for God's kingdom on earth each week.

I cannot imagine all the wondrous things this community can do in movement toward the vision. I hope that you will use your imagination and your stick-to-it-iveness in service of Jesus' revolution.
I cannot wait to hear from yall all the ways you are already and will in the future strive for God's kingdom.
I am excited for the future.