The Reason Why
It was the day August 17, 1960, four men leave on a journey that would be the start of one of, if not the most influential bands in the world. They would play on and off in Hamburg from August 1960 to December 1962. The first time they played in Hamburg they played forty-eight nights straight and by the time they were done in 1962, they had started to hone their ability and showmanship on stage; These skills would achieve them a recording contract; a contract that would take them to a greatness that they never knew they could have. One that they all sought, but that only through perseverance faith and trust, would they achieve.
In the year 354 a man that is known as an early North African Christian theologian and philosopher, whose writings went on to influence Western Christianity and Western Philosophy to this day was born. He believed that the Grace of Christ was indispensable to a human’s freedom. He is said to be of influence to such Christians as the Calvinists and Lutherans; and is also thought of as one of the main influences and theological fathers of the Protestant Reformation due to his teachings on salvation and divine grace. His thoughts profoundly influenced the medieval worldview. The segment of the Church that adhered to the concept of the Trinity as defined by the Council of Nicaea and the Council of Constantinople  closely identified with Augustine’s On the Trinity. He tells a story in his autobiography, The Confessions. He remembers that he did not steal the fruit because he was hungry, but because “it was not permitted.” His very nature, he says, was flawed. ‘It was foul, and I loved it. I loved my own error—not that for which I erred, but the error itself.” From this incident he concluded the human person is naturally inclined to sin, and in need of the grace of Christ.”
Oswald Chambers a Scottish preacher of the eighteen and 19 hundreds, that served as a chaplain to the YMCA and also in World War one writes this in the back ground to the scripture 1 Corinthians 10:31 whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. The true test of a saint’s life is not successfulness but faithfulness on the human level of life. We tend to set up success in Christian work as our purpose, but our purpose should be to display the glory of God in human life, to live a life “hidden with Christ in God” in our everyday human conditions (Colossians 3:3). Our human relationships are the very conditions in which the ideal life of God should be exhibited. Does everything we do glorify the Lord?
One of my classes in Seminary was on mission and ministry development. The basis of it seemed to be simple; find motivating ways to develop the mission and ministry of the Church and all that that entailed. The day came, and we started the class; the readings seemed light and the class seemed easy. A couple of days into the class after reading the opening chapter of the book. I started to read the next chapter. What I read stimmed me; stopped me dead in my tracks. It was stated so truthfully so evident as I had never heard before, “It is not our ministries who make Christ present, it is the present living Christ that makes our ministries alive.” It’s nothing that I, we or us, do to make Christ alive, the Christ is the reason we are. I had been looking at it the wrong way. A better way to say it might be who came first me or Jesus. This made me think. It made me reform again as we are called to do; to form and reform; again, and again; as the Church; in the Church; the living church. The problem was me; I still had power; I still thought for some odd reason I did something; I hadn’t fully realized true grace. The true grace that Paul was speaking of. (the reason why) A grace that is formed through reliance; A total reliance; a reliance that does not come from anything we do; but a reliance that is built on the true faith of the Christ; in the Christ; and through the Christ; for all the Son of man did and does for us all day every day in our lives. A reliance that is not a hard yoke to have but had only through the practice of Love and faith. This yoke is made for all of us, all of us to have. “To participate in Christs ministry means that we share in his life.” We are alive and acting in the Christ in all we do. What does that mean; that means the Christ is alive in us; (The reason Why) that those two sets of footprints have become one, that there is no more me alone; no more you alone; that you don’t even have to try to feel him, he’s already there. He’s been there the whole time!! This has been said many ways; many times, as it is spoken in the Bible, yelled from the mountaintops, and whispered to you at night when your asleep. This calling is for us not to be concerned of when the time is for the coming of the Lord; but to know that everything is going to be ok. To know that it was always going to be ok; no matter what. This knowing, this confidence of course is faith. A faith that is shown to us by our father in the love and grace he showed to us through the coming of the reason why’ Jesus the Christ. A faith that we can emulate as we are shown to emulate the actions of our Lord and Savior.
In looking back at the first reading today, we have to look at the Old Testament to get a better grasp. In the old testament the conception of the Day of the Lord is quite common and all the pictures and ideals that go along with the day of the Lord has been attached to the second coming. All time was divided into two ages. There was this present age which was wholly and incurably bad. Then there was the age to come which would be the golden age of God. In between these times was known as the day of the Lord which would be a terrible day. It would be a day in which one world was shattered and another was born. Even though the writers of the New Testament paralleled this idea with the second coming of Jesus the Christ; Jesus himself said that no one had any idea when that would be except God. Who are we to be God? This scripture goes on to say that we are called to be the church; to be upright in all our endeavors and to encourage others to do the same. As it reads in 1st Thessalonians verse nine “For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ and in verse 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.” This is not a sentence of death as the second coming of the Lord but more as reason to live and live on in the grace of the Christ. This grace seems to flow through all us, living and breathing in us as the Holy Spirit. That there is no concern, but to be, to do and to live in this grace so freely given to us by our Lord and savior. The power of what we are. This glorification of God. The Glorification of all that God is; to live in the Christ. As the baptized actions of Love. The Love that is eternal; divine; pure; the truth the way and the life. The reason why!!
Recently I ministered at a celebration of life for two men that I have known for a number of years that recently passed away. When it came to the time of others sharing about the two men as always it was awkward, at first, for someone to approach the Pulpit, but as the first person came and spoke of the men, then it became easier for the others. They spoke of them as saints. As people that went out of their way, beyond themselves to be of service to others. These were not men that practiced a Godly life, or even dressed the part. But they were men that went out of their way to serve others. They served to the best of their ability, that others may be shown the same Love that they were shown. That Love that surpasses all things; Gods love. They took their lives and their work in a Godly way. As Court liaisons they helped men in trouble with the law find ways to start over. From the long term incarcerated to first time offenders they helped men to become alive again. To live again; as we are called in the same manner to live again, no matter what age, no matter who we are to live again every day. fresh and new in the Christ. In the living baptism of the Christ.
In the year 1873, on the day of January 2, in Alençon, France A baby was born to the parents, Marie-Azélie Guérin and Louis Martin. Marie and Louis were normal parents that lived a good life that wanted their children to live that same life. They were very devout and as soon as their young daughter was baptized she saw the greatness of God. She was, as it was said, to become empty of all that she was and to become filled with the Christ. That there was nothing left of her only him. This was a total commitment she made to God; to Gods love and to become that love more and more for the rest of her life. She became a Carmelite nun and lived on to be the action of the Christ in all that she did. She died at a young age from tuberculosis, but because of the life she led she was never forgotten. She lived out her vocation to the fullest not because she was scared of the end, but because she was; she was alive; reborn again and again. Even when she was sick and knew she was dying she never flinched in service to the novices she served or to any other of her duties. This service, as she is known for coining the Phrase “ The Little way” was not anything that was seen by many; and even in some people’s views, looked down upon as weak. But in her heart she knew she had been called. Called as all of us are called; To be the best we can be at what we are and who we are; the best at what our callings are.
This is our Thanksgiving; our thanksgiving to God.. The definition of thanksgiving, of course besides the day that is always on a Thursday and is celebrated by eating way to much and suffering from the reality of tryptophan, which was always my fathers excuse for napping after Dinner, no matter whether we ate turkey or not, is actually defined as “the expression of gratitude, especially to God.” This seems to bring this celebration to a new light. As gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Thanksgiving seems to be built around love, the action of God and all that God is. To glorify him in all we do; as the people I spoke of earlier that led their lives no matter whether they knew it or not in this glorification of God.
This celebration of gratitude is a celebration of life itself in everything we do and everything we are. The action of Jesus glorified in us; through us in all our actions to be the best we can be at what ever it is we are called to be. The reason why
Matthew 25, our second reading today, seems to solidify this Godly action of Thanksgiving. More than that it shows us the great adventure that life truly is and can be if we simply follow him and live in this grace so freely given.
The parable of the talents has somewhat been a little misinterpreted as the word talents has seemed to become in modern day as a form of currency. The Talent was actually not a coin it was a weight; and therefore the value of it was dependent on whether the coinage involved was copper Gold or silver. The most common metal used at the time was silver and the value of a talent of silver was about 300 dollars. Of course when we look at this parable the first thing we focus on is the useless servant. This is somewhat thought to be and could be looked at as the Pharisees and the Scribes with their attitudes towards the law and the truth of God. The servant buried his talent in the ground to keep it the same as it was; to give it back to his master exactly as it was; of the same context; same old same old. Their idea was to keep the law the same. As William Barclay states ”In their own phrasing they sought to build a fence around the law, any change, any alteration, anything new was anathema.” Or something that was to be vehemently disliked. In all true reality he is saying this is why they are condemned. This seems to verify our action of the church as reforming. As a Church of change and renewal, not one that buries its head in the ground.
As the servants that received different amounts of talents, one receiving five, another two and another one; we as people of the God all have different callings in life; different gifts, different ways of serving the lord. We shouldn’t bury them in the ground, but use them to the best of our abilities. We are to live life in the Christ to the fullest we can. Honing our skills as the Beatles did in Hamburg. Or becoming the best we can to be of service to God and to others as Augustine of Hippo was. Or in the humblest form, a servant of all others as Therese of Lisieux.
May we be called to live the adventure known to us as life; life in the Christ. To live in thanks for all that has been given to us; that the true servant of God is one who does not give up; but lives in the Christ to the fullest; the best they can. This is not perfection; rather it is gratitude. The reason why.
We don’t do these things because of anything we do; but rather what Jesus does for us. This is the gratitude; the reason why. Thanksgiving. Our missions, our Jobs, our callings, are not based on us, but rather what God is in us and through us. We as people of God are called in the Holy Spirit to be the best we can, at everything we are. To be adventurous, not to sit; to let the world go by; but to be apart of it as it changes in us and through us; as it changes us; changing the church; building our faith; renewing our reality of grace; growing our faith as Gods people. The fire that burns over our heads and in our hearts. The reason why, the Father the Son and the Holy Ghost; Happy Thanksgiving; all gratitude to God.