The Pas St’s Peter & James – Easter 3
30 April 2017
Psalm 119:33-40 BCP 487
2 Corinthians 4:1-6
Lord of the gathering feast,
you walk with us on the shadowed road:
burn our hearts with Scripture’s open flame;
unveil our darkened eyes as bread is torn and shared,
and from the broken fragments bless a people for yourself;
through Jesus Christ, the host of the world. Amen.
I’ve made it a practice to watch the news, well, as little as I can, yet it still seems to seep into my day.
I’m not allergic to the news, per se, yet, at the same time, the news never seems to focus on the positive experiences of life, of faith, of humanity, except possibly as a ‘human interest story’ at the very end of everything else.
It continuously sets a negative example of life, and although it may not know it, the news expects each one of us to follow suit, to respond in ways that kill our souls, that destroy any semblance of hope, of life, of joy from our lives. The news gets into every aspect of our lives, and strives, through its negative influences, to kill the gospel in our lives and hearts; to kill the kindness that we would visit on those around us who are similarly perishing.
As a response, we, as humanity, get so easily bound up in seeking ways to be healthy in mind, body and spirit; while much of the world thinks that this seeking a state of balanced health has absolutely nothing to do with a life of faith. They think it has nothing to do with absolutely anything external to ourselves.
In fact, we see increasing evidence all around us that humanity has replaced human interaction with the isolation caused by technology, with the illusion that our Facebook friends lists are actual physical contact in and for our lives.
We have replaced conversation with texting to the point that the Simon and Garfunkel song “Sounds of Silence” has become almost prophetic for today’s generation.
We see that humanity, in general, has replaced a spiritual life, and adherence to spiritual practices with pharmacology. It blindly dispenses medication to one and all in place of any and all spiritual practices that exist in the world, today.
We can see this in such classic dystopian tales as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New Word, a world that considered itself to be the height of evolution where everything is preordained according to mechanized systems, and those who didn’t fit into this model were abandoned to their own devices, and were treated as misfits.
Into this type of scenario, this dystopic reality, we can clearly hear Paul’s words, today: “our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor 4:3-4)
And the more we look around the world, the more we listen to the news, the more we fail to find any trace of the gospel, the good news, outside of our times together, outside of our intentional study of scripture, outside of our spiritual practices designed to open our lives and hearts to the hope of the gospel.
We, the children of God, are able to hear the words of love and inclusion that fill up our hearts and souls, that provides ease to our minds and lives, that the rest of the world cannot hear. We are able to hear what is veiled to those who are perishing.
We are able to do this because we have accepted the love of God, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the faith that we are a part of God’s creation and that God is an active participant in our lives.
Still, Paul tells us “the God of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers,” and such unbelievers make no attempt to change the status quo.
It reminds me of the 2nd commandment that we received from God through Moses, in regard to making idols and images to worship in God’s place. God reminds us: “I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, and visit the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and show mercy unto thousands in them that love me and keep my commandments.” (BCP pg 68)
And I’ve pondered this, often, in my seeking of God’s love and inclusion for all. Those who “hate” God are those who are blinded by the gods of this age. Those who are not amongst us because they don’t hear the love of God, the gospel of Christ, the words of hope that fill our hearts and guide us through the world in which we live.
Such are the people who have no concept of what they’re missing, whether it be mind, body or spiritual health and life, and so go in search of the newest gadget, the latest medication, the next fad, yet not realizing that the answer is found in opening our hearts to the gospel, to the message of love that only God can give through the teachings of Jesus.
At the same time, such hearing, such connection with mind, body, and spirit, gives us life, hope, and a positive outlook in all aspects of life, and the world.
Isaiah tells us: “18the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.” (Isa 30:18a)
The gospel may be veiled to those who don’t even ask what is behind that curtain, yet, God yearns to show us compassion.
The gospel may be unknown to those who are enmeshed in the ways of the world, yet, its only unknown as long as we neglect to open our hearts to the love and grace of God.
It’s a mystery as long as we fail to see God’s living compassion, God’s yearning to be a part of our lives.
So, isn’t it truly interesting that it’s a matter of choice. It’s a matter of willingly opening ourselves to the love and the compassion of God? A decision to look to the love, the hope, the faith that God lavishes upon us, in the face of the worlds intentional negativity?
Its a point of hope in the face of the obvious negativity, the intentional blindness that surrounds those who are perishing.
Even if we look at the gospel, we see the same kind of blindness to the inclusive love and grace of God.
Jesus says: “7 ‘If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’ 8 Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’”
Jesus is telling us that he’s the physical representation of the Father, he is the physical manifestation of the love of God, yet, at the same time, Philip still desires to see God, and the Father next to each other, instead of in the same person.
Yet, we have the same experience. We know that when we live in the faith, that Christ lives within us, that we live within Christ.
When we live in faith then the gospel, that foolishness to those who are perishing,
Surrounded by the hope, and the mystery of the Easter resurrection, the negative experiences of the world increasingly strive to steal our attention away from our Lord and Saviour who rose from the dead, to break the bonds of sin and death, to alleviate the burdens and the attentions of the world that strive to pull us away from the love of God.
Looking at the gospels, at their potential impact in our lives, when we are able to open ourselves to the love, to the yearning of God that is spoken there, Paul speaks truth, when he said that “our gospel is veiled to those who are perishing.” (2 Cor 4:3)
You’d think that a mystery is something tantalizing to those who don’t believe in the gospel, in the good news, in the fact that Jesus is the way the truth and the life. Something to be unearthed, uncovered, revealed so that all can believe and see.
Yet, such a mystery remains, while Paul tells us “since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”
In the face of presumed mystery of the secrets of our lives in Christ, we are open with the truth. We live the mystery of God’s love to change the world, one heart at a time. After all, a secret is only a secret if someone doesn’t know it. So, in the face of God’s love those who are blinded don’t know of God’s love for all humanity, them included.
In the face of the negativity that is the daily news services, we find our indefatigable source of hope in Christ Jesus.
In the face of the lack of hope in the world that leads to a rise in dystopian visions of the future, classic as well as contemporary, we have our gospel, our good news.
Ironically, what breaks the world view in Brave New World is a person who doesn’t fit into the cogs and mechanisms of the society around him, in the same way, we don’t fit into the perceptions of those who are living in fear because of the constant negativity of the news from around the world.
With the gospel of Christ within us and all around us, we are able to move through the world empowered with that hope. We’re able to share that hope, that message of eternal life, those words of God’s love for all the world.
We are able to model that gospel for the world, and set an example of the inclusive love and grace of God for all humanity.
So, we can see this, perhaps, as our challenge for the next week. To move through the world in which we live with the positive love and message of Christ for all people. We can shar that love indiscriminately with all whom we meet, encounter, even pass on the street.
We can take this veiled and hidden gospel out and, with the flourish of a master magician, reveal it to those who are perishing to the point where they will see what we know – that God loves them as much as God loves each one of us and longs only to hold them close forever.
As Christians, we are called to be those who right wrongs, who provide examples of justice, who stand up for the little guy who is being oppressed by the negativity of the world around us. We can reach out and help one person to stand taller because through our actions, they can see the elephant in the room, the love of God for them.