Saturday, September 24, 2011

Think it then DO it! Proper 21 A

Well, you know what they say:  “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”  But from what I have seen, they have just repaved the road to Hell, so it is much smoother now!  But before that repaving project, that road was bumpy enough to knock out your fillings!
But isn’t it true; the whole thing about the road to Hell being paved in good intention?  So often we have such good intentions to do things, but then, in the end, nothing happens.  We may have good intentions to feed the poor, but unless we go out there and do it, the poor still go hungry.  Or, if you are like me, you have good intentions of sending out that birthday card or Christmas card, but even though I may actually BUY the card, the card still sits on the desk, waiting to be sent.
We say that it is the thought that matters, but I think that is just to make us feel good.  If it was, indeed, only the thought that mattered, then there would be world peace, no hunger, no violence, and droopy pants would be a thing of the past.  But, like I said, I think this is just a way to allow us to not feel guilty about those things we are not doing.  “You know, I didn’t really didn’t get the present, but it’s the thought that counts!”
I think another way we Christians say, “it’s the thought that counts” is “I’ll pray for you.”  Now, I could get in trouble for saying this, because I do believe that prayer is important and I do believe that God does answer our prayers.  But, as most of you know, I believe God uses us to answer peoples’ prayers.  I believe that God uses us as God’s eyes, ears, hands, and heart in the world.  We now have the privilege of being able to go out and spread Christ’s love to all those who need to feel it.  Hopefully our prayer doesn’t just end with “God bless Freddie;” hopefully we are looking for ways that we can personally reach out to Freddie and be a blessing to Freddie.  And if we can’t be a blessing directly to Freddie, then hopefully we can find another person for whom we can be a blessing.
Yes, I believe that prayer is a good thing, but I don’t think prayer is just something that should end with our head bowed and our eyes closed.  Prayer should move us to raise our head, open our eyes, and search out those places where we can become prayer in action.  Our personal prayer to God and our congregational prayers and petitions should move us to search out those ways we can bring God’s grace to the world.
When I think back to the road to Hell, like I said, before they fixed it, it was really rough!  It was enough to knock your car out of alignment and to bounce your fillings around in your head!  It was nasty!  And if we think about it, this is the way our lives and our world can become if we are just full of good intentions.  We say we will do something and then we get distracted into something else.  Well, while we are off doing that something else, the task we said we would do does not get done.  The pothole we said we would fill gets left empty.  If enough of these potholes are left unfilled, soon the whole road becomes impassable.  And, although the intent to fix the pothole may have been given in total sincerity, when the task is left unfinished, sincerity doesn’t matter; the road is still impassable.
So what are the things that we have every intention of doing, but we just never get around to doing?  What are those things that we could be doing that we just don’t seem to find the time for?  And really, I am not trying to shame you or find things that are beyond your ability.  I’m not going to tell you that you need to be going to Haiti to help rebuild the country or that you have to join the Peace Corps to go teach in Ghana.  Not that those are bad things to do.  However, we need to realistic here and admit that for the most part, these things are just beyond our abilities.  But just because these things are beyond our abilities, this does not leave us off the hook.
The one thing that we ARE asked to do as Christians is to love. And this is something that we all can do.  We may not get around so well, but we can love.  We may be busy in our life, but we can love.  No matter what is happening in our lives, we can love. 
What I find sad is so often, what we see in our world today are people who say they love others but are, in fact, quite unloving.  We see people claiming to be Christian but then act in ways that are not loving or Christlike.  We see those who claim the mantle of Christ but are unwilling to help their neighbors in need  Christ speaks of feeding the poor and caring for the needy but so many, in the name of Christianity, want to blame the poor and the needy for their suffering.
This is probably as close to a political sermon as I will ever get, but I think that we, as Christians need to be willing to speak out for those things that we feel are right and true.  We need to be willing to speak our faith and to follow through on those words.  We need to love the world as Christ has loved us.  We need to forgive as we saw in the gospel reading of a couple weeks ago.  We need to forgive as Christ forgave us.  We need to love a God loved us.  We need to show the world the peace and love that we have found so that maybe the world can find some peace and love somewhere.
I see in our world today a place where we as Christians can do more than just say good things and then go out and do whatever we please.  I see a world where we can speak the words of Christ and be the people of Christ.  We can say that Christ loves the world, and then go out there and love the world.  We can be a little kinder to the people on the roadway.  We can smile at the person checking-out our groceries.  We can donate food to the local food pantry.  We can give our kids a call and just say, “Hi.”
Paul tells us that we are to be of the same mind as Christ, and that also means we are to do as he did.  Although I do not believe that we are redeemed by our actions, I do believe that it is through our actions that the living Christ is brought to the world.  We won’t do it perfectly.  We are going to make mistakes.  Some days we will say one thing and do the opposite.  Some days we will reconsider what we originally planned and go do those things we should.  But hopefully, as a community of faith, we can remind each other to be the people of Christ that we are called to be.  We may not change the world, but we can be an influence to those around us.  And who know, maybe our actions will start a trend that will, in fact, become the change we would like to see in the world.

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