God’s Glory in the World – Pastor Noel

  • July 3, 2016
Proper 9, C    7th Pentecost
 Glory. It’s a word we use a lot in our worship. We usually say or sing “Glory to God in the highest” as we begin.
In our Psalm today we said, “sing the glory of his name, sing the glory of his praise.”
As we continue, we will affirm that God has made us new people. This is done to show forth God’s “glory in all the world.”
We will affirm Christ’s commandment to “remember his death, proclaim his resurrection and await his coming in glory.”
Both of those “glory” statements can be understood two ways.
We can sit back and let God manifest glory, OR we can participate in manifesting that glory.
We were created to be partners with each other and with God in caring for all of creation. So, sitting back and letting God do it all is not the right way.
It is true that we cannot save the world—God has already done that. We are not asked to save the world, but to be agents of God’s glory through love, peace, healing, mercy, joy…All the gifts we call grace that make up the kingdom of God. Let’s call it the presence of God—easier to understand. God’s glory is indescribable. We cannot see all of God’s glory—we would be blinded and burned up as by the sun.
We can see glimpses of God’s glory in the wonders of nature and in the wonders of human relationships where peace and joy are found.
When we talk about the presence of God, we are describing life lived in God’s glory. The presence of God is not something we die into, the kingdom of God is what we live into right now.
This is how we are Christians, how we follow Jesus.
Jesus had disciples we know by name, and many more about whom we know nothing.
Disciple means “learner.” Once they had sort of learned about God’s presence and God’s glory, they became apostles. (“sort of” because in this life we can never fully know.)
Apostle means “sent out.”
The 12 represent the 12 tribes of Israel. The 70 (or 72, depending on which Bible you read) —these represent the known nations, the whole world in Jesus’ day.
The apostles were not just “sent out” once. The Greek tells us that this is an on-going commission that we are given even today.
The 70, and the 12 in other stories, were sent ahead to prepare people for Jesus’ arrival. Today we are not literally walking with Jesus to Jerusalem, but we still are being sent out to prepare hearts and minds for God’s presence.
So, first we have to be disciples.
We have to be learners about God’s presence. We have to recognize that God loves us– each one of us—not because we are so good, but because God is so good.
We learn that our salvation is a gift from God, not because we are so good, but because God is.
Love and salvation.
Once we get our minds, and especially our hearts, around those two signs of God’s glory, we are ready to help others receive these glorious gifts from God.
Being a disciple is partly learning with our mind—hearing the Scriptures day after day, and also hearing the powerful words of our liturgy.
And being a disciple is partly learning with our heart—accepting God’s love and peace and joy and mercy and all of God’s gifts. They are ours.
Being an apostle is being filled to overflowing with God’s gifts and knowing the joy of life in God’s presence. Being an apostle is going out to share the good news of God’s presence, giving away our gifts.
So being a disciple is taking– taking in God’s gifts of grace: peace, love, joy, forgiveness, and especially, belonging, being God’s beloved children.
Being an apostle is giving—giving away these generous gifts from God, because the only way to appreciate and enjoy them is with others.
Apostles share God’s glory because it is too wonderful to hoard and hang on to.
So following Jesus is a balancing act between taking—being nourished by God, and giving—sharing what God has given us.
But the giving itself is nourishing and helps us find the peace and joy of God’s presence.
As the Dalai Lama says, “If you want to make others happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
Free Sunday Suppers, Soup on the Docks, giving space for Oasis to meet here—these show our compassion and are signs of God’s presence.
Jesus tells lots of stories about the presence of God. Here are some new ones.
The presence of God is like a moving company that knows moving can be traumatic, so they do everything they can to make it easy. From start to finish their top goal is to make their customers feel happy and comfortable.
The presence of God is like the mill where Polartec is made. When the mill burned, the owner paid all his workers while it was being rebuilt. And he was not a Christian.
The presence of God is like a country where everyone has enough: enough respect; enough opportunities; enough resources; enough compassion to disagree and still be friends; enough love; enough of God’s glory to be dazzled and need sunglasses every day.
As we live in the presence of God we are including, accepting, welcoming, listening, forgiving, reconciling, helping. What could you add?
God’s presence opens us to keep on learning, and sometimes finding blessings where we never expected to find them.
The presence of God is when we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love all our neighbors (because God does) and love ourselves (because God does).
And this is how we show forth God’s glory in the world.