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August 8, 2021 

 

ELEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST 2021 B

            Raise your hand if you have ever walked past one of those CHANGING HOLOGRAMS where, when you first see them, they are a friendly, nice person, and then as you walk past the image, it turns into a PRETTY SCARY PERSON!  You are left to wonder how this transformation actually takes place?  So, you walk past the face a few times to see that transformation again, AND AGAIN!

            No matter how HORRIFYING the image, you realize that it’s ONLY FOR AFFECT—REALLY—IT’S NOT REAL—OR IS IT!?  I’m now going to ask you a question, where if you answer honestly, the truth of the matter is much more HORRIFYING than any SCARY SPECIAL EFFECT.

            Here goes.  Have you ever had a person that you thought wanted the best for you, or at least you respected and expected that they would not spread rumors or mean or angry words about you to your mutual friends, did it anyway?  Remember, we are not accusing them.  We are just saying that we expected one thing and were surprised and disappointed that, just like that hologram, they seemed to change.

And just like the hologram, when you looked at them while causally passing by, everything was peachy keeno.  It was when you started to have your back turned that things got UGLY!

            Speaking of UGLY, today’s Bible texts are definitely NOT PRETTY—OK!—THEY ARE ALL KIND OF UGLY.  But sometimes life DOES GET UGLY.  Elijah, in our Old Testament story isn’t having his BEST DAY, IS HE?  He went a day’s journey into the wilderness.  He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed THAT HE MIGHT DIE! 

He had LOST ALL HOPE.  Nowadays, he might have been assessed as someone suffering with depression.  Elijah was a prophet, yet no one listened—at least not yet.  He had to be strong just a LITTLE TOO MUCH!  Oh, he could fake strong with the best of them by LOUDLY CORRECTING THE PEOPLE, but now he JUST HAD TO REGROUP!

When you are your ABSOLUTE WORST, you are also MOST VULNERABLE.  You are vulnerable to being manipulated with CHEAP ADVICE.  Just go to a funeral and listen to the advice people give that they think is SO HELPFUL!  You are also vulnerable by losing your desire to take care of yourself, which means that you forget to do things like—EATING OR SLEEPING!

But perhaps the most vulnerable that you are is the willingness to remove all filters.  You become the ugly version of yourself !  Just look at the JECKLE AND HYDE thing that happens to David in our Psalm.  He starts out, “I will extol the Lord at all times! REALLY!?

There wasn’t a lot of EXTOLLING  going on when David admits that he had his share of FEARS!  When the psalm goes on to say, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and he delivers them”, it means that David is not so strong in faith to admit that he is dependent on God, and that when he doesn’t then he shows his DEPRESSING UGLY FACE.

ANOTHER FACE REARS IT’S UGLY SELF in our Epistle lesson.  These Ephesians know each other TOO WELL.  They are so comfortable with each other that they feel comfortable enough to WEAPONIZE THE TRUTH—AS THEY SEE IT!  They somehow feel free enough to point out to the fellowship the UGLY TRUTH and believe that it actually is a GOOD AND HELPFUL THING. 

In the Gospel, which means GOOD NEWS, Jesus feeds 1000’s, heals many more and brings comfort to countless others and they criticize him for saying HE IS THE ONE TO BRING THEM GOOD NEWS—TO BE GOOD NEWS-RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEIR EYES.  How can a LOWLY CARPENTER’S SON BE THE ONE?  Why don’t they ask themselves how a young man who saved his sheep from the attacks of wolves and lions become the MIGHTY KING DAVID, whom they revere?

If we are honest, we will admit that each of us struggles at times to hold onto that SMILELY FACE.  Any one of us, can be SO HONEST that we are HONESTLY CRUEL AND NEGATIVE ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE.  And let’s face it, there are plenty of people in the world that have EARNED AT LEAST SOME SCORN.

However, how many of us would like to be the OBJECT OF PEOPLE’S SCORN?  How many of US, OF YOU, would like to be the object of GOD’S SCORN!?  Ephesians 4:31 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling, and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.  Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love.”

I like to think that I try to be a pretty kind and forgiving person.  But then I find myself getting angry with the homeless man who is messing with our faucets while trying to cool off.  I am less than charitable to those who cut in front of me in traffic or at the store.  I am less than neighborly to the chickens that just love the underbrush in my yard—all hours of the day and night.  Basically, I know that sometimes I think that there is a hierarchy when it comes to getting to Heaven, and some deserve it MORE and some deserve it LESS.  Which is about the time that I better realize that I am not QUALIFIED TO BE THE ULTIMATE JUDGE.

So maybe we can let God be God, and we can try our best to make that HAPPY FACE, not the one we just PUT ON, but the ONE WE CLAIM AS CONDEMNED SINNERS GIVEN A SECOND CHANCE—and the MEAN, ANGRY, OR ACCUSING FACE THE ONE THAT WE TRY TO GET RID OF LIKE IT IS JUST A MIRAGE THAT WILL DISAPEAR WITH THE HELP OF GOD’S GRACE.

And all of God’s HAPPY FACE FOR THE RIGHT REASON CHILDREN said…AMEN!