Sermon: February 24 2016

Readings

Gen 15:1-12,17-18

Phil 3:17–4:1

Luke 13:31-35

+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

What is he waiting for? God knows.

The blood is drying; even the buzzards are losing interest, circling lazily overhead. Their sudden swooping downward jolts his eyelids open; he leaps to his dusty feet, and flails his hands, soiled with sacrificial butchery. 

Abram waits; he knows not what for.

The Sun is setting, and the wild darkness is soon to come and is now here. It is only when Abram can see no longer, alone in his terror, that God speaks. Smoke and fire, God speaks: judgement, promise, and peace, God speaks: to your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.

Sure. Give the old man sons and daughters, and his wife; she’ll have a chuckle when she hears the news.

+++

What are they waiting for?

Citizenship in heaven, he says. They want to believe him, as we all do. But Roman citizenship is difficult enough to obtain, how much more difficult will be the road to heaven? And besides, where is this place? Will there be roads and aqueducts, like the Romans have made? Will my grandparents be there? I miss them.

New bodies, he says, glorious bodies to replace our humiliating ones. Wait a second. What did he just say about my body? I suppose he’s right. It’s all terribly humiliating.

I don’t know about all this. It all seems too good to be true. Or too mysterious to be true. Or too mysterious to be good. I don’t know.

+++

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!

Your house is left to you.

You will not see me until the time comes.

Comes for what?

What are we waiting for?

+++

It is the second week of Lent, and we wait; in our Lenten observance, we wait; in our lack of Lenten observance, we wait. We haven’t had chocolate and tea and coffee for so long, the withdrawal symptoms have so affected us that we have forgotten what it is that we are waiting for, if we ever knew in the first place.

Lent is, like all time, ambivalent. The road to the joys of Easter does, after all go through the passion of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. We will abandon Jesus in the darkness, before we sing unto his light. We will gather in the absence of the God we murdered, before we experience again eternal faithfulness and love. Easter does not negate Good Friday, because the Resurrection is not the denial of the Passion, but it’s fulfilment and meaning.

What are waiting for?

Resurrection.

The time when we say: blessed.

Or the time for judgement and peace, from the Nile to the Euphrates.

Or the time for new bodies, for transformation and glory.

Blessing. Peace. Glory.

We are easily fooled, aren’t we, into thinking that these are comfortable words, or comforting ones. But of course, to call blessed he who bears the good news is to sign up for it. That good news is, of course, peace and glory. But the peace of God is not the absence of conflict; rather, it is the creation of a world in which conflict is no longer necessary. It is a world in which we—you and me—we make room for ourselves and others to flourish, refusing the participate in the cycles of oppression and exploitation that characterise most of human history, including our present lives, whether we realise it or not. And glory? The New Testament is clear in its analysis of glory and power. Glory looks like a man, falsely accused, battered and nailed to a cross. Power looks like a lamb, enthroned and slain from the foundation of the world.

We are awaiting the death and resurrection of Jesus, into which we are baptised.

+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.