Luke 12.32-40 10:30am Family service with baptism. HT 7th August
Puppet Ben talks about; His mobile phone – playing Pokemon go. Gotta catch them all. What is Pokemon go? What is augmented reality? Involves lots of walking. Catching Pokemon (small animals) with a Pokeball. Ben is prepared for his journey; water, Pokeballs, batteries. Where will the journey take him?!
You know, if you think about it, augmented” reality” is a bit like the way people of faith are able to see the world in a way others can’t. A good deal of the Christian faith is about looking out for God working in the world and joining in with what He’s doing. It’s about looking out for those who are in trouble, whose lives don’t seem to be going anywhere. It’s about looking for caring for all who are in some way oppressed by debt, loneliness and fear. Living by faith means we are not focussed on ourselves and what we can get out of life be it buying things, having money or respect. As people of faith we are called to be ready for the journey with God.
In the gospel from Luke, we hear too Jesus’s advice on being ready. He is in fact giving a call to watchfulness, to be ready for the coming Kingdom of God. His words betray his strong sense of urgency. He says “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit”. Jesus is anxious that his disciples and us are prepared for what it to come and for what is happening now.
But what does he mean by being dressed for action and lamps lit? Does he mean only those who are at all times smartly dressed for church and who have torches will be saved? I do hope not as that would count me out straight away! Especially if you catch me on my day off slopping around in my old jeans and t-shirt! No, I think Jesus is talking about faith. About living in faith at all times and all places. But, like Pokemon Go, does it mean having faith in things that do not exist. Of believing in things unseen? Well, maybe.
The key to passage is having “treasure in heaven”. Oh something else I can’t see. Something way up there! But what this means is the treasure is our relationship with God and the way we live now. When we live for Jesus’ sake or serve Him by helping people, we store up treasure in heaven. Even seemingly small acts of helping do not go unnoticed by God. God see’s the unseen.
The reality of the things we can see through faith is found in living by faith. We see the good in others before the bad, the hope in loving others as they are instead of how we think they should be. And the grace to see ourselves as God sees us, as worthy of His love and forgiveness. Faith is walking the path to which God calls us despite not seeing any benefits to ourselves. Living a faith-filled life means doing what God calls us to do without worrying about our future.
Through complete trust in the goodness of the one true God we see the world’s so called treasures for what they are; empty, short lived and disappointing. Only true peace can be found in the love of God.
Faith is given as a gift from God through his grace but without responding to his love through action, then faith becomes weakened and eventually worthless. Just as a gift is wasted if it isn’t taken out of its box, so is faith if it isn’t taken out and made use of.
So Jesus implores us to be ready, to take responsibility for the faith God has given us. To see the world with His eyes. So when the Jesus arrives, will we be found busy in our tasks, in his work in the world or will we be found taking life easy, unprepared for the journey, forgetting to dress ready and neglecting our treasure in heaven? Only through total trust in God can we have confidence that we will be ok in whatever journey God leads us towards. We are called to be ever watchful, ever ready as faithful workers in God’s kingdom searching out the unseen things of God in the world around us.
Today, Isla and Hunter are baptised into the loving family of Christ, our Christian family. During the baptism they will be anointed with oil and water, symbols of things unseen, the grace and love of God. Not only does she gain new godparents but she also gains brothers and sisters in Christ. That’s all of us here and all Christians in Malvern, the UK and the world! All of us have a part to play in her growing up in Christ and she has her part to play too. Most of all, today celebrates that Ila and Hunter are children of God. This is a wondrous thing and not something to be taken lightly.
The challenge for each of us is to deepen our hearts, to acknowledge our acceptance into the heart of Christ. Only then can we fully be open to receiving his gifts, his gift of faith, forgiveness and grace. Only then can we become not only friends of God but His beloved children sent out on the journey into the world as belonging to the Kingdom of God.