God in All Seasons

Text: Old Testament: Psalms 90:12-17

12 So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart. 13 Turn, O Lord! How long? Have compassion on your servants! 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad as many days as you have afflicted us, and as many years as we have seen evil. 16 Let your work be manifest to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. 17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands— O prosper the work of our hands! NRSV

Text: New Testament: Hebrews 4: 12-16

12 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account. 14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Purpose: To notice God’s presence and presents in the daily course of living around the calendar year.

Opening: I feel it is necessary to give a disclaimer. It is a high price to not be true to one’s self and I am confessing to you that preaching is not my daily bread in my job description. No one has died here today: at least not yet! Thus this is not a celebration of someone’s life and encouragement to a particular family sermon. If this was an advertisement of disclaimer a low baritone voice would speak at the speed of an auctioneer to tell you what this will not fix, be, or expect.

I am reminded of the woman who told her two year old he was going to have a brother or little sister. He told his mother he would pray to God for what he wanted. When the day came the mother gave birth to a little sister. The little boy seemed disappointed. The mother inquired. This is not what you expected or prayed for?? The little boy said no! I expected God to give me a puppy.

It is my hope to bring some words of celebration and contemplation around the calendar year.. As a people who are often busy in the doing of life there is room to ask ourselves do we invite God to go along? How do we notice God in the sojourning of the doing of life around the routine of a Christian calendar year? And we know the high Holy Days and we can hurry through the personal events to be better at the priestly professional events. And still be surprised by what God will birth in us.

Our Old Testament text say’s “Teach us to have a wise heart. This passage is a pilgrimage passage. It is a traveler’s Psalms attributed to the course of brevity and hope in the human daily life. This passage speaks of God’s eternity and prayers for the favor of God’s hand upon the hands of humanities work. “O prosper the work of our hands.”

In the passing of history here there is a lost toil that gives way to invention, technology, and the new and improved ways of functioning in daily life.

My grandmothers were of the era when young girls on a farm were not invested in education past the eighth grade. It was a common story of their day. But, what I remember is their brilliance of mind and creativity with the work of their hands. No one today needs to do any “tatting” to make their own lace. We have manufactures of machinery to make lace today. My grandmother’s filled mason jars with savory vegetables and sweet jellies with flavors that exceeded anything store bought. These workers of hands and toil could lift, haul, cook, and can food until rows upon rows of colorful filled jars of delights and nourishment lined their pantries with what their hands had made.

Teach us to count our days O Lord, that we may gain a wise heart. The season of harvest is a prepping season. The scurry to clamor for winter’s store house of food and clothing to see us through. Today, technology and industry offers us a negating need for the days of harvest production. But, with a wise heart I would beseech us all to see this part of the calendar year woo’s us to consider a spiritual prep. Winter is coming. This gone by era left us that legacy to consider. We still need the God of harvest days to give us favor for the work of our hands today in the duties of the day.

And we could pray: God of the harvest and golden sun we come. We come with thankfulness for provision into the unseen winter. We come with baked bread and wine of summers toil and callous hands. We come with gratitude for the one with nail scared hands and grace to break death. Let us in this season count our blessings, offer our gifts, remember our dead, and live boldly in Wisdom’s Way.

Wisdom’s Way. How can we go into another season of the calendar year without a wise heart? Who are we to ask God for compassion and satisfy us with steadfast love? This Psalm passage of travelers on a pilgrimage way requests for glad days of equally good to the days of affliction. Technology offers us the instant photographs that tell the story of an event, a memory, a selfie or two or fourteen, or more. The calling upon God for equal days by these ancient sojourners is not any different than us on our journey today. Seeking to be noticed on Facebook with happy photos of celebration and modern day laments of what ails them. Each of you ministers have people sitting in your congregation rolling the picture of dark moments and glad days through the memory bank of their mind. They come to you and to God as seekers, jaded insiders, activists, and hungry disciples. How will you feed your sheep in the winter of their days?

And we could pray: God of the Advent, fallen snow, and Father to the Peace Child to come.

We come with gift of time offering our service to another. We come with food clothing, and support to those who have little or less or nothing. We come with music, bells, singing, and caroling to fill the air with joy of Christmas. Let us in this season count our blessings, offer our gifts remember the birth of Christ and live well in the knowledge of wisdom’s unfolding.

Wisdom’s unfolding. Our Old Testament passage offers us pilgrims and followers of the Peace Child to consider packing wisdom for a wise heart on our journey. Wisdom is soundness in action. It is the body of knowledge, experiences, and decisions made in good judgement. I am reminded of the story about an angel. He appears at a meeting of religious leaders. The angel commends the head leader- He commends him for his unwavering dedication and exemplary behavior. You sir can choose infinite wealth, untold wisdom or health and beauty of body. The leader- without hesitation selects WISDOM. Done! Say’s the angel and disappears in clouds of smoke and a clap of thunder. One of the on lookers say’s something to the leader. And the leader looked back and say’s I should have taken the money. Truth be told: Wisdom is hard. Growing a wise heart is not a simplistic journey.

St. Augustine would say that patience is the companion to Wisdom. As we journey onward with such attributes as these words have offered- let us look to Wisdom’s offering in the spring of our New Testament verses in Hebrews. 4:12-16

12 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account. 14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The value of words and the Word of God is to give life and meaning to the power of words spoken. We lie naked before God as God scrutinizes our desires, intentions, and we are all forced to face our own weaknesses and lack of wisdom’s way and unfolding in our lives. The Hebrew text gives us much to ponder. However, I want us to consider the value in the words of reflection “Let us hold fast to our confession and let us approach the throne of Grace with boldness.”

The underpinnings to this section of verses is to remind us we are all naked before God. There is a reality show on TV called Naked and Afraid- it is sort of like that: but instead of afraid—

These verses ask us to hold to our confession in Christ and Christ in us- who is our redeemer! Therefore we can boldly go before the throne of God’s Grace.  In the book, The Naked Now, by Richard Rohr, he proposes a Spiritual path/journey in the principal of Likeness. When we accept the likeness of Christ within us we can start loving unconditionally one another. And it offers us prayer words such as:

God of renewal and sustainer of springtime’s eternal return we come. We come with the reflection of Lent. We come with contemplation of the Cross and Passion of Christ. We come with request for forgiveness, renewal, and respite. Let us in this season count our blessings, the splendor of green grass, fragrant flower, and shade of tree. The hope of freedom, the help of sovereign Spirit, and grace to plant. And live peacefully within ourselves and with others in Wisdom’s hospitality.

Springtime’s renewal to the growing edges of becoming are seen in Wisdom’s hospitality. One of Wisdom’s other attributes is in the ability to play. The season of prepping will come back again soon enough. For a moment in the boldness of grace and holding to the exposure of our confession let us be receptive one to another.

Hospitality is more than friendliness or refreshing care to another after a long journey. This is what hotels offer to the weary traveler.

The hospitality Wisdom offers is a disposition. It is sharpened in us by the prying Word of God and Eyes of God who sees us. To be like Christ laid bare in the baking sun is our confession. Our grace is in the invitation to be like Christ in forgiveness, love of others, and be tested for such in all seasons.

In the respite of summer. In the rest season of grace let our Wisdom join with God’s Wisdom and pray these words:

Let us in this season count our blessings, The sound of water playing, fresh grass mowed, and children laughing in a park. The taste of summer fruit, grilled dinners, and family reunions. And live respectfully in Wisdom’s revelations to harmony and grace.

As the season come and go and come back again we pray with prayer. May it mean more, reveal more, and offer more as the seasons whisper from Your Wisdom: Harvest, Give, Grow, and Restore. Amen.  

I invite us to the community table of prayer and light a candle in silence. In the silence and quiet sounds of music let us lift to God our praise and petitions of intercession for another. Then return to our places for a closing hymn.