6:00 already? It’s been a busy day. Bruce and I have been cleaning and home-organizing. More on that later – for now, here’s yesterday’s sermon! We had a ton going on in worship, so I kept it on the short side. Enjoy!
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Building An Active Faith
So what do you really say, right?
It has been a wonderful Sunday. We have seen the visible signs of what Christ called us to do. We have baptized; we have made new covenants; we have reflected on outreach and service. And we have praised God for all of these things; we have given God the glory for all of these things, just like Jesus did and called us to do.
Last Sunday the confirmation class met and the subject matter was, “The Christian Faith.” Our goal for the evening was to talk about what it meant to be a Christian (because that is something so easy to sum up in an hour and half!). And to start the conversation I said that there are three truths that I believe are crucial to understanding the foundation and the growth of the Christian faith.
Truth #1 – Christianity is a trusting faith. Let’s be honest: The real mystery of the faith – the resurrection of Jesus Christ – cannot be explained or proven. No one was there; the tomb was found empty. Our belief that Jesus rose to give us new life starts with the belief that things happen that we will never be able to explain or prove. We must let go of our human desire to be in control to truly live out our faith. Christianity is a trusting faith.
Truth #2 – Christianity is a confessing faith. Do you ever wonder how we got here? It all started with a confession. Not “confession” in the Catholic sense of the word, but “confession” in the rawest sense of the word. “Confession” where someone experienced something and was not afraid to tell the world and journey forward. It happened at the tomb – the women found it empty and ran from it, proclaiming “Christ is Risen!” – and it happens every single week at this church – through our worship, through our educational programs, through our mission and through our hospitality. It happened at my installation a few weeks ago, it happened this morning during the Sacrament of Baptism and it happened as those who took part in Homeless Awareness reflected on their experiences. Every time we step into this church or represent this church in the community, we are proclaiming the good news; we are confessing something about what we believe and what we feel called to do in the world. Christianity is a confessing faith.
Truth #3 – Christianity is an active faith. This is critical – you cannot just make a confession and let it sit stagnantly. Jesus did not call us to believe in the Gospel; he called us to live it out as well. And through his life he showed us how to do this. He showed us what it meant to live a life of radical faith; of never-ending hospitality; and of humble love to everyone. He never said it was going to be easy. But if we truly want to live out our call to be Christians, then we have to commit and re-commit and re-commit again to live an active faith. Because it is only through our service, through our humility, through our quest to seek unity that we will even begin to understand what it means for us, as individuals, to be Christian. Christianity is an active faith.
Planning for this morning’s worship service started weeks ago, coordinating both the baptism and reflection on Homeless Awareness. At one point Steve brought the song, Go Light Your World, to Aaron and me, explaining that it was a tradition to sing the song in worship the Sunday of Homeless Awareness Weekend and wondering if we could continue the tradition. Neither one of us objected – and then when I thought about the song in conjunction with the baptism, I started to get excited.
And then I looked at the lectionary for this week. Paul said to the church at Thessalonica: “But you, beloved, are not in darkness … for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.”
For you are all children of light …
This little light of mine. I’m gonna let is shine.
I was in Connecticut yesterday and borrowed this stole from my mom. She bought it at General Synod, which is the UCC bi-annual meeting, in 2007, when the UCC was celebrating their 50th anniversary. The theme of that year’s Synod was “Let It Shine”. I could not think of a better stole to wear today as we illuminated the light of the newest members of our Christian community through the water of baptism, as we made promises to them as a community and as we reflected on a weekend of service and learning. That’s what we’re called to do – to let it shine! This little light of mine. I’m gonna let is shine.
Paul ended the portion of the letter we read today by saying, “… For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through … Jesus … so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.”
We are called to build an active faith by trusting, by confessing, by doing; that is pretty clear in the Gospel. But Paul reminds us here that we are called not just to build our own, but to help others build theirs as well; to create a light – and to let it shine.
Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!