Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My sermon for the Southside Ecumenical Service Tonight

I have always loved the road outside the house where I grew up. My house is just off the road
with a row of thorn trees in front. The drive sort of forks off and there is a path running from our house across the road to the neighbor. The road itself is dirt, not the red cake like dirt of the other side of the stream, but fine white soft sand. Over the months and days the worn easy places of the road change depending on the rain and traffic. A considering person will be careful
to walk on the smooth places, and pay attention to how the road changes over time. By walking it every day, the road becomes familiar even as it changes, so that even in the dark, you know where to walk.

It’s hard, I think, driving everywhere, or even walking on paved roads to visualize walking in a spiritual sense. Here, if you walk from Giant over to La Tazza, you have to look up and out, not down at your feet, so as to avoid cars, rather than stones. But more than likely it would be easier to drive the distance, faster.

It’s no mistake that Paul uses the word ‘walk’. ‘Walk’ not as unwise but as wise. He is talking to those of you who are already on the road, already walking towards God, away from the world,
away from yourself. The road stretches on ahead of you. There are two ways to walk. You can walk wisely, carefully, considering the road, the destination, your situation. Or, you can walk unwisely, carelessly, without attention.

How do you know the difference?

Well, first you have to make sure you are on the road and not wandering off on some path that peters out. Do you know Jesus? Do you love him? Do you trust him to save you from your sins?
Or are you relying on yourself and your own goodness? Relying on yourself is foolishness. Don’t be foolish, don’t continue walking on the wrong road. Get off that road and walk toward Jesus.

But if you’re already on the road, you love Jesus, he is transforming you day by day into his image, he has saved you and made you whole, then, to know if you are walking wisely you must be able to understand what the will of God is. Do you know why he made you? To worship him?
Do you know what your purpose is? To go out into the world and tell people about Jesus and how much he loves them. To listen to his voice and do the work he gives you. Do you pray every day and read the scriptures to know his will, day by day, step by step? If you don’t know his will, you won’t walk wisely.

But then, understanding the will of God, do you allow yourself to be distracted, to be filled up with other things, the things of this world, like wine, or worry, or busyness, or gossip, or anxiety, or a grudge, or envy, rather than to be filled up with the spirit. You can be on the road but not walking carefully in smooth careful watchfulness of God. Don’t walk that way. That is foolish.

How do you fix it?
Paul says, be thankful.
Now, I know its possible to go through this whole week, this week of Thanksgiving, and say thank you a lot, to other people and to God, with your lips, but not have time for it to be translated into your heart and mind. But if you cannot see God any more, and you do not know his will, and you are filled up with many other things, than you are not walking in wisdom.

Walking on this road in wisdom, means walking on this road in thankfulness.

Stop and put yourself into the place of Thanksgiving. You don’t have to feel thankful. You have to stop and bend your will, your mind, your feet towards God and thank him.
If you don’t know where to begin, start by thanking him for your existence.
Without him and his desire for you, you wouldn’t have been born.
Thank him for his preservation of you and provision for you.
Thank him for his salvation—in sending his son to die in your place so that you might live with him forever.
Thank him for the Holy Spirit who sanctifies and guides you.

The way of wisdom, the road toward Jesus is gratitude, is thankfulness.
Walk in it.


Polly said...

I wish I went to your church...

Anne Kennedy said...

Hey Polly,
I wish you came to my church too.:(