Christ Church Eureka California Second Sunday of Lent Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18, Psalm 27, Philippians 3:17-4:1, Luke 13:31-35 February 28, 2010 The Rev

. Ron W. Griffin “What you say, and how you stand”

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray
from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Luke 13:31-35

Some Pharisees came and said to Jesus, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill
you." He said to them, "Go and tell that fox for me, 'Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.' Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'" Good Morning! Today I have a cross I am wearing, given to me several years ago. The cross is covered by Milagros. Milagros are religious charms more often found in desert southwest of the US in many areas of Mexico and other portions of Latin America. This cross with Milagros was created for me in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. These symbols remind me of my journey in this life my relationship with God, and is a symbolic way for me to remember life’s most important questions. And several of the Milagros focuses on this Lament of Jesus.

Jacques Maritain, the French philosopher of the last century who was influential interpreter of the thought of St Thomas Aquinas said there are three questions to be answered in life: Who Am I, Where am I and Where ought I to be going? Jesus asked these questions long before Maritain, Jesus also offered us the answers if we are Christians. The teachings of Christ answer who we are, where we are, and where we ought to be going as Christians with servanthood or what I call being available, living by example and with humility. In today’s gospel there are a number of symbols Jesus uses to help us understand what Servanthood, Living by example and Humility mean. Given the number of animals available in scripture, it is curious that Jesus choose a fox and a hen with chicks, because a fox or mother hen does not inspire much confidence, not like a Lion or a Leopard or even an Eagle would. But a hen is what Jesus chooses, which -- if you think about it --is consistent with his answers to these important questions. Jesus tells us, If anyone would come after me, they must first deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. And who ever wants to be great must be a servant, and who ever wants to be first must be slave of all. Central to the words of Jesus are the first will be last, the poor will be rich. Children, windows, the peasants and poor wind up at the front while those in power go to the end of the line. Jesus spent much of his time telling those listening to choose giving over getting. So of course he chooses a chicken, which is about as far from a fox as you can get. Jesus also reminds us over and over that our goal daily as we discover where we ought to be going is to be Christ’s reflection to our culture. We don’t think about it a lot, but when we consider that we and our connection to Christ’s Church has been observed by many in this community for a long time, the real power of our reflection of Christ or lack of power in our reflection of Christ begins to sink in that it is not in words but in our examples the people judge our reflection of Christ. As Paul writes to his community in the Epistle today he tells them they will learn (who they are through Christ) when they begin living his example. He tells the Philippians to imitate him as he imitated Christ. When I look at that word imitate it initially seems negative to me. When I think of how the word imitate is used in our culture I think we put it in the same category as a Copy, or a Knock off, or faux. But Paul asks us to imitate his life as he imitates Christ. My wife Charlotte, has been a piano teacher for many years, she has seen her students excel as state winners, graduate from University’s and also some great music lovers, because Charlotte love for music, is instilled in her students. Since moving to Eureka she has begun once again to teach. She is working through HSU as a Suzuki teacher. She works for the most part with children though part of her guidelines are that the parent learn along side the child. She starts every student the same way. We’ve been married 36 years so I’ve heard the same songs played the same way for many years now.

Sometimes I’ll see Charlotte ask the child to place their hands on her hands so they can feel how the music is to be played. And through the years when it was time for the students recital, I always notice there are little Charlottes playing these songs. They have not only memorized the songs, but the placement of their hands look like Charlottes, they sit like Charlotte, but most importantly they sound like Charlotte. They are imitating Charlotte. They are learning from the best model. If Charlotte was a poor musician chances are her students would be poor. If she were a poor teacher chances are her students would be poor. But Charlotte is a wonderful teacher and for the most part she has wonderful students. They are imitating her, learning how to be good musicians. Some of here students are more gifted naturally some struggle with the challenge. But there is a direct connection between how they learn based directly on how much time they spend learning. Thomas A Kempus wrote a book over 500 years ago Called The Imitation of Christ. It’s an understatement to call it a classic. It is much more than that. What A Kempus tells us is that if we want to live by example and be more like Christ, we will take the time and energy to come close to Christ and then become a bright reflection of Christ to everyone that observes us as well as asks us. At times however there seems to be such a huge gap between where we are as Christians and where we would like to be. So how do we close that gap? In addition to being available or servant hood, imitating or reflecting Christ into the culture; one of the keys is to be humble. Scripture tells us we are given a special blessing when we are not arrogant or prideful when we choose giving and serving the poor, the low, the back of the line folks. When we are humble we are saying to Christ, I want you in my life, I want to spend time with you. I want to be more like you, I want to imitate you, for you know what is best for me. And as Jesus modeled for us over and over, true greatness is our dependence on God. If you have ever cared for someone, loved someone you could not protect, then you understand the depth of what Jesus is telling us today. But what you can do is open your arms and become available, live every moment recognizing it is in our humble dependence of God that will cause us to know Who we have been created to be, Where we are on that Journey and Where ought I to be going with Christ? Jesus reminds us in this gospel, what we can and can not do. You cannot make anyone walk into opened arms. But it is the most vulnerable posture in the world --wings spread, your heart exposed -- but if you mean what you say, then this is how you stand.

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