Sermon for Sunday January 12, 2020
Passages: Romans 1:1-7; Luke 2:1-7
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are being watched! What we say, what we think about, what we eat, someone is watching. No, I am not talking about Santa Claus, who knows when you’re sleeping and awake; that season has passed. Nor am I speaking about angels or our past loved ones, or even about God all-mighty watching us from above. Rather, what and who is watching us is completely in our hands. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I invite you to take your phone and talk about anything. Then open social media and see how all of a sudden you start seeing ads or images about all those things you privately spoke about in the comfort of your home.
Now I’m not about to start preaching on Big Brother spying or any other true or false conspiracies that we are being watched, but I can’t help but wonder what kind of digital footprint is it we are leaving. Our search history, our life report card; what impression are we leaving in this world be it a digital footprint, carbon footprint, financial legacy, cultural legacy, etc? In this constantly changing world, where what we eat, how we sleep, what we thought about is either digitally or physically observed, what are we leaving behind?
This question has bugged me especially as a priest being a public figure, and maybe some of us truthfully haven’t thought about it. Yes, we can accept that technology is observing us but we live, we love, we make mistakes, and then we die. And of course as Christians we additionally believe that when the time comes, we will stand in front of the throne of God in judgment for the life we lived. Yet, what I’m curious about isn’t so much whether google knows what I ate or even whether facebook knows that I was interested in row machines, rather what interests me is whether or not the people we read about in the Bible, whether they thought likewise?
Now, there were no computers or cellphones back then yet, I wonder did they know that they were being watched…that they are still being watched? Ultimately, did they know that they were going to end up in the Holy Bible, where over thousands of years, people would read about the lives they lived, the mistakes they made, the successes they reached? Did St. Paul, Peter, John, Abraham, Noah, Esther, Rehab, Isaac, Jacob did they know? Would they have lived differently, tried a bit harder, showed more love and been more forgiving had they known? Would we?
How would we change our lives if we knew that one day we would end up in the Bible? Our story, our darkness and our light, our shortcomings and our successes – would we act differently, be more loving, be more forgiving, spend a little more time to strengthen our faith in God rather than seek our own leisure? In Romans chapter 1, we read “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God…” The truth is though we are reading the name Paul, this greeting is in fact written to each one of us. We are each servants of Jesus Christ, called to be apostles, set apart for the gospel of God. Not just the 4 Gospels in today’s written Bibles but the living Gospel – our faith in Christ Jesus.
The same Christ Jesus that last week we joyfully proclaimed is been born and revealed in us. Therefore, if we like Paul and all those others who we read about in the Bible are called to be apostles and have been set apart for the gospel of God, what do we understand by this? We haven’t been set apart for vainglory or praise, but set apart to be lights in darkness, to be healing in pain, to be love during hate. Our apostolic duty is not about yelling about the coming of God, nor is it about writing books to be placed in the Bible. Just like each of the individuals that we read about in the Holy Bible, we are called to ultimately always actively place our faith, our hope, our life in God’s hands and build a communion with Him, not to show others how not to fail but to show that only through God do we truly succeed.
My dears, the truth is we don’t need cellphones and computers or Big Brother governments to watch us and we most likely don’t need to worry about ending up in today’s version of the Bible that we use in Church. However, we are being watched and our story is fully written down in scripture. The world is observing us and how we live, not just a person’s, but especially as persons who confess with there mouths a belief in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The world is paying attention to our tweets and posts, to our aggressive and perhaps hate filled comments, to our thoughts and opinions whether they are educated or fueled by emotion. They are watching and reacting. Statistically speaking more and more people are leaving the Church today not because of lack of faith, but in an effort to preserve their faith. Because of what walking contradictions Christians have become. I don’t care about your political views or opinions on policy but rather, how do we treat ourselves and each other? How do we treat those who are in need? Look around this sanctuary, how do we treat one another? How do we treat this world?
My dears, our lives are the continuation of Holy Scriptures because we have each been set apart for the Gospel of God – we are each chosen and called to be servants living our scripture in this world. Therefore, what kind of footprint, history log, legacy, timeline or story are we leaving behind?
What are people reading, when they see us Christian’s living the lives we live? If how we act, what we say, how we eat or drink, if they are not leading people to Christ Jesus then who or what are they leading to? For those who know me well know that one of my activities for relaxing is to play video games. And when people I play online and people hear that I am a priest or pastor, they become very surprised because they don’t understand how a priest can play a video games. However, what is more interesting is ultimately, the conversations I have with majority of the people online lead to questions about faith, about God, about struggles and pain. Because as Christian’s, as those set apart for the Gospel of God, we are not told to live in isolation and avoid the world. Christ came into this world but did not become a part of it. And we are called to also likewise, be examples of Christ in the world we participate in. We don’t need to be priests but we need to be faith lived whether we are on break or we are in Church or with our families. I have said it many times before, the greatest sermon is not one given from the pulpit. It is the one lived in the streets, in the workplace, in our homes, with our friends, and yes in today’s world, the one online. True faith preached is what is done out the Church doors by each one of us. Where everyone is watching and judging and asking, “what is a Christian?”
My dears let us be aware of what impressions, what footprints, what legacy we are leaving behind. Does it build up this body of Christ, does it wipe away the tears of the oppressed, does it feed the hungry and clothe the naked? Does it lead to Christ Jesus? If not, we must repent and turn to God not as defeated individuals, but just like all those people in the Bible we read about, just like our beloved Martyrs of the Genocide, though they failed physically, ultimately through God they succeeded. So that when people read about us in the Bible, when we appear in scripture, we to, our lives will ultimately raise people up to God. For Christ came to set us apart, so that we too world bring his love, healing, light and hope into this world. And doing so we will glorify Father, Son and Holy Spirit and we will rightfully proclaim Christ is born and revealed in us, Amen!