For The Someday Book

Sermon Sapling: Epiphany 1A — Called to the Promise

Posted on: January 8, 2011

Highlighted Passage: Isaiah 42:1-9

This passage in Isaiah conjures for me an iconic image from Disney’s The Lion King. Even if you’ve never seen it, you probably know this image. It’s a cliff, jutting out high up over the savannah, that the lions visit to look out over their entire kingdom. The movie features a young lion, Simba, from his birth to young adulthood, as he grows into his role as king of the jungle.  At the Simba’s birth, the animals come from miles around to gather at the foot of the cliff, waiting to greet the new baby king. As they come, they are singing about “The Circle of Life.”

It’s an image of baptism, really–this lion cub is anointed, on the forehead, as a symbol of his importance, his mission, his place in the world. He is going to be king.

By our baptism, we are marked as Christians–and we are anointed by the community of Christ, given a place and a purpose and a mission in this life. We are children of God, loved by God. Our purpose is to serve God and help God’s work in the world. We are not kings, but we are just as important–our lives and what we do with them matters in God’s kingdom.

Later in the movie, Simba’s father takes him back to that same cliff to teach him about being King of the Jungle. He lays out for Simba the power and beauty and extent of their kingdom at sunrise, describing it as everything the light touches. He tells him of the honor and responsibility of being king, to serve and oversee and take on the burden of all the creatures in their realm. He also tells him that the reign of a king is like the rising and setting of the sun–it comes and it goes, one day rolls into another.

This is the scene I imagine happening in Isaiah.

In this scripture, I imagine God taking us by the hand, leading us to a bluff looking out across our community. God reminds us of our baptism–our place, our purpose, our mission. God points out to us that we have been given this land and all the creatures in it. We are blessed by the abundance, and we are responsible for making God known in this place. “I have made you a light to the nations,” God says to us. I need you, God says, to shine out in this place, to make my love known here, to build justice and mercy and healing. You are my servant in this place. I need you to be light in the darkness, friend to the lonely, food to the hungry, hope to those who despair, love to those who have none.

I also imagine our reaction to that. “Who, me? Us? We’re just a little church on a little corner. We’re just ordinary people, no special faith, no miraculous healing. Just working folk trying to do the right thing for our families and our communities. We’re not good enough, faithful enough, capable enough, wealthy enough to do this thing you ask of us.”

God responds with a reassurance, and a challenge.

The reassurance: “See, the former things have come to pass.”

In other words, God says, look at all the promises I made to you that have already come true.

Do you think you are the first one to stand on this precipice? Your mothers and your fathers, your grandmothers and grandfathers—they have stood where you are now. I held them by the hand as they looked out over this gift and responsibility. They started this church. They built this building. They gave of themselves, their lives and their wealth, to make my light shine in this community. Like you, they believed they couldn’t do it. They thought they were not enough to accomplish what I asked of them. But I stood here, holding their hands, and promised them that together we could do it. And look out over this community—together we did. You are here today because my promises to them were true. I have kept my promises to them, and I will keep my promises to you.

And then comes the challenge: “New things I now declare. Before they spring forth, I tell you of them.”

I have a new work to do in this generation, says God. I still need you to be light in the darkness, hope in the face of despair. Let me tell you what new things I want to do—because I am going to need your help to do them. Just as the former things have come to pass, I will make this thing come to pass as well. But I need your help. Just as my promises came true through the service and sacrifice of previous generations, I want to make my promises come true in you, too.

The Circle of Life that we God-followers participate in is a circle of promise after promise. God’s promise is fulfilled in generation after generation. We stand on the former things that have come to pass, the promises that God has fulfilled through previous generations. God takes us by the hand and asks us to help make new promises come true in our generation, for the future. We stand on the precipice, our hand in God’s hand, a light to our community, trusting in the promises of God.

The question is, will you let God’s promise come true in you?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

About Me

I am a full-time pastor in the United Church of Christ, mother of a young child (B.), married to an aspiring academic and curmudgeon (J.). I live by faith, intuition and intellect. I follow politics, football and the Boston Red Sox. I like to talk about progressive issues, theological concerns, church life, the impact of technology and media, pop culture and books.

Helpful Hint

If you only want to read regular posts, click the menu for Just Reflections. If you only want to read book reviews, click the menu for Just Book Reviews.

RevGalBlogPals

NetGalley

Member & Certified Reviewer

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,628 other followers

%d bloggers like this: