Sunday, October 21, 2018

Year B Proper 24 2018 Showing Up

Year B Proper 24, 21 October 2018 
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA 
“Showing Up” 
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

Mark 10:35-45 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” 

Hebrews 5:1-10 Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, 
“You are my Son,  today I have begotten you”; 
as he says also in another place, 
“You are a priest forever,  according to the order of Melchizedek.” 
In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. 
I have always heard the phrase, “The devil is in the details.” That has a truth, when the work is ours to do. When I am frustrated and in the weeds, I often feel that I have been bedeviled. 

But when I take a step back and view the vast expanse of Creation, and all that this this life has to offer, if anything, God is in the details. God gets down in the nitty-gritty, gets those eternal hands dirty, and invites us into the weeds, too. God invites us to be about the work that is before us to do. 

James and John were more worried about the outcome than the steps before them. They wanted the prestige without the sweat. They asked for a promise of position, and also notice they asked Jesus for the promise before they say the what it is they are asking to receive. Jesus says they are clueless as to what they are asking. 

Most likely they are still caught up in the earthly understanding of Christ’s kingdom, that it would be on this earth and not a heavenly realm. 

As you have heard me say before, the more I read the Bible the more it rings true. Human nature has not changed in the slightest. We want as much as we can get with the least amount of effort. 

An old joke states that 90% of success is showing up. We can quibble over the breakdown of percentages, but for the most part you have to be there to matter.  

I love how today’s readings almost seem to contradict each other. Job has the confrontation scene with God. After demanding an audience God shows up, and invites Job to a bigger perspective. In Hebrews, we are invited to see how Jesus showed up before in his life and ministry, but continues to be there for us at the right hand of God the Father encouraging on our behalf. In the Gospel, though, we do not have James and John showing up, at least not yet anyway, but they do want the benefits without necessarily putting in the work. Jesus says, show up, do the work, and let the reward take care of itself. 

Showing up is so important. Rethink the Job passage. God comes across as heavy handed and a little mean. God not only puts Job in his place, it looks more like a body slam in pro wrestling. But think about it from this perspective. Nothing God says is untrue.  God did all that is listed there. AND GOD STILL LOVES JOB ENOUGH TO SHOW UP. Sometimes showing up is what is needed. It is like when I wanted my kids to just go to sleep. Some nights I needed to go back in there, show up and give restless kids a firm, but loving, final GOOD NIGHT. When I showed up they clued in. Jesus wants us to show up, and in the stories, we can begin to see Jesus showing up (or someone a lot like Jesus). 

Now we are going to look at an obscure scripture, that is probably only remembered because it is referenced and the images it represents. 

Abram has been hunting down the folks who have kidnapped his nephew Lot, and he catches up to them and slaughters them. I will not mince words. That is what happened. Those kings that fought with him took their share, but Abram refused not wanting anyone to say he engaged in this for profit, though it was his right by common practice. In the aftermath a local king of a town, Salem (later Jerusalem), comes out. The king’s name was Melchizedek. 

Genesis 14:18-20 18 And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. 19 He blessed him and said,       ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High,          maker of heaven and earth;       20 and blessed be God Most High,          who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything. 
Now we cannot imagine this image, the priestly king of God Most High coming out with bread and wine and not see a parallel or an archetype. And when you add Abram then gives him a tithe, a tenth, of the spoils, we cannot help but hear church going on. We have bread and wine, a priest, and then there is an offering. It must be church. :) 
Melchizedek can mean My King is Righteousness, and the layers of meaning keep adding. The preacher of Hebrews likens Jesus to this obscure figure, saying Jesus is a high priest in the order of Melchizedek. And now Christ eternally plays that role in heaven itself. The High Priest was allowed into the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement where he would plead and pray on the people’s behalf. Jesus does that, is doing that, for us now. 

Like Melchizedek shows up for Abram, Jesus does that and continues showing up for us. Jesus encourages his disciples to show up and serve. That is what he asks, expects, and wants from them. It is what he asks, expects, and wants from us. 

I am constantly blown away by the outpouring of service from so many in our parish. Are we perfect? Far from it, but we do so much. It is an active, vibrant, amazing place day in and day out. We are currently hosting CARITAS, a travelling homeless shelter. This week we have families with kids. I am so glad we can do this. I am so glad we are doing this. 

I do have an ask today, though. I have mentioned some of these in my announcements, but there are some looming holes that just have to be filled and I would ask you to pray if God is leading you to show up and serve in these areas. I will be honest, these are some deep needs today or very soon.  

There are three holes which have to be filled. We need Sunday School teachers for our kids. Period. We just do. We have at least three spots we need to fill. Also, we need counters for our weekly offering. These are done with rotating teams, and we have lost a few of our trusted leaders by their moving out of town. This is an often unseen role that is required for us to have. Out of sight, out of mind, so I bring it to your attention. Lastly, we need more ushers, the opposite of the tellers. Not hidden, they are entirely out front, they are our first line of welcome and hospitality. Again, through no fault of our own we are down a few and need to bolster our teams. I bring these up not to guilt or fault anyone, but I trust that there are some who will prayerfully consider and show up. If God is calling you, talk to me. Jesus said you have not because you ask not. I am asking, and I trust God will provide. 

Showing up and serving is how we say I love you. In one of my all time favorite movies this is expressed so well. In The Princess Bride there is a spoiled rich girl named Buttercup. Even her name is pretentious. And there is a farm boy who she calls Farm Boy. She does not even bother with his name. Whenever she asks something of him he only responds to her, “As you wish.”  

Bring in the hay, Farm Boy. “As you wish.”  
Fetch the water, Farm Boy. “As you wish.” 
Take down the pitcher, Farm Boy. “As you wish.” 

After years of this she starts to hear the meaning beneath the words he is saying. When he is saying, “As you wish,” what he is really saying is “I love you.” And eventually when she makes requests, she begins to add please and thank you. She feels the love, and it transforms her to being polite and respectful to him. And then one day as he is saying, “As you wish,” she figures out that she loves him, too. And then she finds out his name, Wesley, and thus begins the movie. Love through the visible and tangible acts of service transformed them both. 

Since I watched that in the late Eighties I have never heard that phrase as face value ever again. When I hear “As you wish,” I will always hear, “I love you.” When we show up to serve one another, it is really clear. What we are really saying is “I love you.” Amen  

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Blessings, Rock