Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sermon for Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 11
Year C
July 21, 2013
                                               Amos 8:1-12                                                       Psalm 52
                                          Colossians 1:15-28                                         St. Luke 10:38-42 

Hymns: 618, 657, 686, 662 

If anyone wonders where I get to get my rather universalist views from, the author of Colossians must surely bear some of the responsibility. In the passage for today we are told that “God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things” through Christ.

There are no limits in that statement. There is no holding back. All things have been reconciled to God through Christ. It includes you. It includes me. It includes the world.

This is one of the reasons I have a hard time with the concept of hell. Certainly the jewish tradition had no hell. And I'm not sure that there is a lot of biblical support for it.

Of course that leaves many of us struggling with things like Hitler and other monsters in the world. What happens to them if there is no hell? I think there are two possible answers. One is that like the rest of us they are reconciled to God and end up in heaven. Which might actually be a form of hell to have to live up to the enormity of the evil the perpetrated against others through all eternity. Or perhaps they are just snuffed out of existence. Who knows? And really, at this point in our faith walk, who cares? We should all be focused on what God calls us to do and worry less about how others responded to God's call in their lives.

God didn't choose just a select group to be reconciled with as some would like to believe. That, in my mind is way too limiting of the love of God. And as heretical as some might find this rather simple view of mine, there is a message in from the prophet Amos that I feel is even more earth shattering.

It is a message for us true enough, but I feel it is even a more important message to politicians and those in power. What has shocked me in recent years is the apparent ability of people to separate their responsibilities to their creator from their life in the world. The message from Amos is a powerful warning to those in power. This should not be particularly surprising as God tends to always speak powerful messages to those in positions of power.

Amos warns that those who “trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land” are going to be called to account for their actions. Amos was apparently one of the earlier liberation theologians. Actually when you look at the words of the prophets, they were all liberation theologians. This understanding has often been expressed as God's preferential option for the poor. In the words of Gustavo Gutierrez, “God demonstrates a special predilection toward those who have been excluded from the banquet of life.”

Too often our political leaders in this day and age clearly have a preferential option for the rich and what to ignore the poor, I guess in the futile hope that they will go away.

God wants each and every one of us to live into that special predilection to those who have been excluded. There may have been many reasons for the exclusion. But not one of those reasons will represent God to those who are excluded.

We are called to step out and take risks. It is not easy. And it certainly is not safe.