Monday, June 13

Sermon Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

There are three interrelated assertions that can be drawn from the scriptures read this evening: 1) God's saving acts in history are done for the sake of relationship with humanity. 2) God's saving acts are themselves an invitation to relationship with God 3) We who have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ are called to extend God's invitation to others, through witnessing to the presence of God in ourselves and the world. The end of our faith is relationship with God.
In the Exodus passage God spells it out. God has acted and has so acted because God wants to have a certain relationship with the people of Israel. God wants to relate to the people of Israel. This is not the first time God has done this. God brought Noah through the flood, called Abraham and Sarah, was active in the lives of Isaac, and Jacob. Saved Jacob and family from famine through Joseph, all for relationship. Ultimately God sends his Son in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, to die and rise again all for the sake of love and relationship. The meaning of salvation history is this that God seeks to relate to humanity, and to pour out God's love into each and every one of us.
The exodus passage also shows us that the invitation is in the act itself, God was drawing Israel back to himself in rescuing them from slavery in Egypt. Jesus Christ comes to rescue humanity from our slavery that binds us to that which is hostile to God. God acted in the lives of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, in leading the people of Israel out of egypt that Israel may be a kingdom of priests. Israel is the invitation to relationship with God. Finally, God acts in Jesus of Nazareth, through his death on the cross, the way out of our slavery was made and the invitation to relationship with God was made clear: "God demonstrated God's love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God desire relationship with humanity, and Christ clears the way in us for that relationship and in Christs death we are invited to relationship with God.
Jesus Christ comes and he calls 12 apostles and sends them out to proclaim the good news of the kingdom to Israel. Israel, is the first priority, not out of exclusivity but to call Israel back to relationship with God, because Israel was always to be the means through which God's invitation to relationship was extended to all of humanity, a Kingdom of Priests. The Twelve apostles represent a renewed Israel, the twelve tribes. The apostles faith in Jesus leads them to witness to the coming Kingdom, to its presence already. The fields are ripe for harvest, pray for laborers and you are the laborers.
Here we are at the end of faith and the goal of God's saving acts. We are at the Eschaton, "the end times", not in the popular sense of the "Left Behind" series and doomsday preachers. We know we are at the end because Jesus in our text uses common image of the "end times", Eschaton, the harvest. Fruit ripe for the picking. The image here is used slightly differently than in other passages of harvest and eschaton, often harvest is the image of judgment, but here it is the moment of opportunity for the completion of God's saving acts in history and in Jesus Christ, the opportunity for relationship with God in Jesus Christ. The kingdom is near, the end is near, because the completing work is being done, soon the Son of Man will appear in glory the Christ will be revealed as the Logos of God united with humanity in the man Jesus Christ, through whom we have relationship with God because Jesus is God in human flesh. We live at the end, the love of God has been poured into our hearts, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, and we are called as laborers into the harvest, to witness to the acts of God drawing all people to God's self, and we share in extending this invitation, as those who live at the end of all things in Jesus Christ. We have what we hope for, to live in the fullness of relationship with God, the reason for all God does and has done, the reason there is anything. We live at the end not through time or chronology but in Jesus Christ, through faith that