Tuesday, March 14

Sermon Second Sunday in Lent

Genesis 17:1-7:15-16
Psalm 22:23-31
Romans 4:13-25
Mark 8:31-38

“And God appeared…” As I prepared for this sermon I could not get beyond those words “And God appeared…” Even as we have left Epiphany the appearing of Christ and entered Lent God still appears, theophany. We are still asked to sit with God’s appearing. What does it mean for God to appear? What happens and what is demanded of us when God appears?
Last week Tripp encouraged us to see theophay, the appearance of God, in each person we meet and know. The Kingdom of God comes near and God appears. However, there is a problem, and it is summed up in Jean –Paul Sartre’s saying, “Hell is other people.” Actually the problem is that it is both true that “Hell is other people” and that Christ appears in other people. We as human beings are as likely to manifest all that is opposite of and opposed to God as we are to be the place of theophany. This problem is part of what Lent is about.
And so God appeared to Abraham. This is not the first or the last time God appeared to Abraham. In this instance God appears in the midst of a hell Abraham and Sarah created for themselves as they tried to make God’s promises happen. As you may be aware in Genesis 16 Abraham and Sarah see themselves getting old and Sarah beyond the age of child bearing so Sarah tells Abraham maybe he should sleep with her servant Hagar and by that way get the heir God has promised. Abraham agrees, and then all hell breaks loose, as there is tension, jealousy, resentment, and a child Ishmael who is in that impossible situation of being neither simply legitimate nor illegitimate- an unwanted wanted child. God appears in the midst of hell and Abraham falls down on his face. This appearance of God overwhelms him in the very least. God appears in our own hell and the self melts away, that self that asserts itself in the effort to accomplish God’s will ourselves.
And God appeared… in flesh and blood as the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
God appeared and spoke unpleasant words. “I will die as a criminal and those who follow me smut carry there own implement of execution like every common criminal and murderer.”
God appeared and spoke this riddle: If you seek to save yourself you will have lost yourself and be without life- you will die. But if for Christ and God you give up yourself as though dead you will live and find true self-possession.
God appeared and was executed as an enemy of the state, religion, and humanity.
God appeared and Abraham fell on his face.
God appears and says “I choose you, I love you.”
God appears and says “Follow me”
God appears and says “You don’t know the difference between life and death: that which you think is your death is life and that which you think is your life is death.”
God appears and the world is rearranged
God appears and we wonder in the desert.
God appears and we cross rivers and seas on dry ground.
God appears and divides the world in two: the world of sin, death, exclusivity, and grasping for self power and wealth and the Kingdom of God, where what is nothing become what is and what names itself as being becomes nothing.
God appears and we meet life- no we meet what is beyond life.
God appears and there is a choice; to turn away from God choosing to preserve our life as we know it or to face God and die passing through to that which is true life, eternal life.
The question is put before us this Lent and always; do we chose a life we give ourselves that will eventually slip through our fingers like so much sand or do we lay ourselves down submitting to that life his is in quantify and quality tare life? God appears and we know life and we die. God appears again and again and we die and rise again. God appeared and died and rose again that ee may know life. God appeared to Abraham and he died and in faith Chris is his heir. We are Abraham’s heirs when in faith we die to ourselves and come to know the life beyond life.
God appears and bids us come and die that we may have life. This is the meaning of Lent and every spiritual discipline: through death, the loss of our fragile selves, we come to know life and our true selves are returned to us. Through dieing we know God who is our life and the life of everyone we meet.
God appeared: Fall down on your face in faith. Let yourself melt away before God and you will find yourself in God’s embrace.