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Luke 3:11 He replied to them, ‘The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same.’”
We know that as we invoke inspiration from you, our creator, you are invoking in us a conviction that causes us to tremble and quake. We know that we are more willing to talk than listen, to willing to defend our actions than to accept discipline, more willing to find blame than examine the fault within us.
Too often we concern ourselves with Jesus’ contention that we hunger and thirst for righteousness that we forget an essential component of that righteousness is in service to those who hunger and thirst. We have much that we need to be forgiven. 1 in 10 Americans is now on food stamps, unemployment is rising, underemployment is rampant, politicians scramble to understand how they can both help their rich contributors while helping capitalism thrive once again, we have given billions of dollars to the same crooks that have stolen money from us in the first place, we have let grain and corn rot in our storehouses when people in other countries waste away, we let some school districts get a fraction of what others receive, charitable giving is down and all we offer is a paltry prayer that has no commitment or sacrifice. We want spirituality to be all about feel good moments. We do not want to hide our good works for nothing in return.
If we are the ones in need this morning help us not to be too proud to accept help in the form that it comes and not to demand it from the avenues of our choosing. Humble our hearts so that we might be able to say the hardest words in the human language, “I need help.” For we know that there is no such thing as an individual faith in you. We no longer ask you into our hearts, but ask that your Spirit connect us in miraculous ways with other humans.
It is time for the redemption of your good news. Too long it has meant that church leaders gained power in this town at the expense of doing your will. It meant that we focused energy on trying to defeat agendas instead of loving our neighbor as ourselves. It has meant finger wagging moralizing laws instead of listening to the needs of others. It has meant giving a heavy voice to important people in the community with wealth and power over the voice of the poor. We seat them in prominent places while the meek inherit the earth from the back pews. We collect money into foundations and endowments so that the church becomes an investment bank while we let go our janitors and office managers go. We have let security cripple our ability to see past our retirement funds and the financial survival as the church as an institution.
Your Spirit is moving amongst your people for revival, change, repentance and renewal. We will no longer make decisions because business people, bankers, lawyers or politicians tell us what is prudent for well behaved people. We will break the shackles of making this place run like Wal-Mart with cheap products made at the oppression of someone we are never forced to see for money in coffers we will never use. Turn us from a marketplace into a community, from a spirituality of exchange into those who carry each other’s burdens, from a people that passively accepts the realities around us to a faith that is lived and seen dynamically by its transforming work in ourselves and others. Our amen will be in our help to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy, bringing good news to the poor, setting the prisoners free, recovery of sight to the blind, releasing the oppressed and proclaiming this the year of the Lord’s favor!
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