August 6, 2017
Psalm 17:1-7, 15
Our gospel reading this morning begins with Jesus withdrawing to a deserted place to be by himself
There are several times in this narrative we call the New Testament when Jesus went off alone
But this time things had cut a little too close to home
Herod had arrested John the Baptist, and wanted to put him to death, but…
Verse 5 of Chapter 14 of Matthew’s gospel reads “Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet.”
Clearly, he feared other people more than the crowd…
Verses 6 through 8 read “But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.”
As we know, it was done…Matthew 14:9-12… “The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.”
Even as the human Jesus was mourning the loss of his dear friend, he was able to act out of the compassion in his heart and he healed the sick on this day…as was his mission
God’s compassion is his to give, and God gives compassion to all those who wish to be with him
And then Jesus fed the crowd of about 5000 men, but maybe twice that many, with women and children included
Jesus fed the crowd with 5 loaves and 2 fish
What does this miracle say about our Savior? That he can make a lot out of a little!
And we see that in our lives every day!
Isaiah 55:6 implores us to seek the Lord while he is near… ”Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near…”
If we take the English at its face value, it might imply that the Lord is going somewhere else
Not that he might be hard to reach, but it might be more difficult than it is today
But we have Paul’s writing to the church at Rome, which we shared last week
Romans 8:37-39… “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If nothing can separate us from the love of God, why then the urgency in seeking the near Lord?
The urgency, my friends, is in the shiny thing…the cute girl…the handsome boy…the fast car
The issue is NOT God, but US!
We move away from God as the world sucks us into comfort, beauty, brands, celebrity, etc.
We are the ones in our relationships with God who have the roving eye
And who could blame us…The Maker has put some awesome stuff on this planet
Is he testing us? No, He loves us…we deserve it…but we need priorities!
And once we are severed from God, what is the barrier to returning to God?
Yes, the same squirrels and monkeys that separated us in the first place.
And once we have them, it is difficult for some, impossible for others, to renounce them
I can tell you this…any branch severed from the Kingdom can easily be reattached
God’s mercy and love are his to give…and He eagerly give them to those who wish to be with him
Isaiah 55:8 reads “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.”
My friends, we have no idea what God is going to do at any given point
And I am going to take some time to speak out on what we are doing to our environment
There is a faction out there who believes that God will cure our warming planet
After all, there have been hot periods and really cold periods many times in the earth’s history
But there is one BIG difference this time…there were never 8 BILLION people on Spaceship Earth
And a large portion of us are currently using fossil fuels to heat and cool and run our electronics
If we look back to our series on stewardship, what will God judge us most harshly for?
Right, we will be judged most harshly for not using the resources He gave us to fix things
Yes, more harshly than if we try something and screw it up
Many people are making the environment a political issue
Some people are making the environment an economic issue
Both are influences, but it is so much more
Fr. John Rausch, a Catholic priest from the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky posed a question to Al Gore on a CNN Town Hall meeting on Tuesday night
He began by wondering if the environmental crisis wasn’t a spiritual crisis, then asked
“How can we help people see the spiritual connection between their consumer choices and the consequences of their buying on the people of Appalachia and others in God’s Kingdom?”
Gore responded, in part, “I was taught in my church that the purpose of life is to glorify God, and if we are heaping contempt on God’s creation, then we are not living up to the duty that God is calling us to.”
Folks, as a scientist, I believe that we humans and our fossil fuels are the problem
And we have begun crushing the rock below the surface of the earth to get natural gas & oil
And many of those places are suffering earthquakes…in Texas and Oklahoma
Maybe this global warming is just a natural cycle…maybe it is real
But, when we have the means to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels with solar, wind, and hydroelectric power
Shouldn’t we do it just so our kids will have cleaner air, cleaner water, and a better earth?
God gave us those things in the beginning…I think that our kids deserve a habitable planet, too
And again, if we have the resources and we don’t use them…judgement day is a coming for all!!!
In summary…if we have the resources, we are called to do the right thing
Not using the resources to do the right thing will be determined on the judgement day
God loves us…and will take us back into the kingdom if we ask back in with action & forgiveness