Series: Coming Home
Sermon: Home Is Where We Meet
Pastor Diane Gordon
Mt Pleasant FUMC
December 10, 2017
Scriptures: Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13 CEB
We spend a great deal of time and money decorating our homes for the holidays. It’s beautiful driving through town, especially right downtown, to see all the colorful lights brightening up the winter dark streets. This tradition of decorating and lighting is not new. For centuries, people have lit candles and shined lights at night to break the spell of darkness and cheer our spirits. There is nothing inherently wrong with this practice. It is symbolic to the hope and faith we have that soon the days will get longer and seasons of new birth, seed planting and growth will come again.
It makes sense that Christians celebrate the birth of our savior in this season; not just because we wanted to play off of the pagan festivals of light that already occurred in this timeframe, and not because we know for sure the date of Jesus’ birth was December 25th. We celebrate in this season because it is most symbolic to the darkness that Jesus came to overcome.
There is a darkness in our world that looms still today and it’s going to take more than shiny colored lights and decorations to overcome it. The Psalmist reminds us that God’s salvation is close at hand for those who honor God. Our culture is at risk, even now, when it honors greed and money more than it honors God. Peace and love can reign in our land. Faithful love and truth will meet for the people who are more in awe of God than they are of wealth. Righteousness and peace will kiss and make their home in us for those who worship and live faithfully.
Listening to the news is downright discouraging these days. Evil has its tentacles wrapped firmly in our ranks. What’s become “normal” behavior has corrupted even the highest ranks of society while the vulnerable are abused. Fortunately, God is not finished with us yet. A light shines in the darkness and the darkness will never be able to overcome it! That light comes from God. It starts very small and has the capacity to grow just like the dawning light of day that reveals all that is present – both good and evil. This light gives strength to the weak, hope for the hopeless and the opportunity to turn things around for good.
Home is the place where we meet one another first. Home is the place that grows families, instills values and teaches how to love and respect one another. Home is the place where we learn what reverence and love of God looks like. But not every home is happy. Not every home is filled with love, so we need more opportunities to create spaces of light and love.
When my own childhood home was struggling, God led me to another home to find peace and laughter. That family blessed me with a new church home where I was welcomed, sang in the choir, and got involved with Youth Group. It was at church where I felt most loved, most secure and learned to hope for a future filled with God’s grace. It was because of a family that had taken me under their wing that the light of Christ broke through the darkness of despair and grief.
Whom will you adopt, as it were, and welcome into your home? Who has God brought into your circle of influence that could use a loving welcome? For whom will you be Christ and offer a place at the table, a place of peace and joy?
Whom will we welcome here at church, as if we have been anticipating their arrival, greeting them with the light of Christ as we welcome them home?
It’s true that God has expectations for righteous living, but laundry lists of rules are not the best way to teach what right living looks like. Modeling right living is the picture that speaks a thousand words. Truth be told, the only person we can change is ourselves, and even then we need the power of the Holy Spirit to truly transform our hearts and minds.
This blue marble on which we live gives witness to the closeness of our ties and how interconnected we really are. “…because He speaks peace to his people …don’t let them return to foolish ways. God’s salvation is very close to those who honor him…”
Our egos and self-absorption often need a reminder that honoring God through how we care for God’s creation – both the planet and all living things, comes first. Being humble before God was one of the things Jesus modeled and taught his followers. We practice foolish ways when we imagine it doesn’t matter that we abuse and foul, destroying things that cannot be undestroyed, all for the sake of our hungers and desires to be better than, richer than, or controller of those around us so we get what we want. Humans can be so short-sighted!
Jesus came in the form of a vulnerable infant, living a human life, so that we could relate to God in the form of a human. Honoring God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit with awe and wonder due the Creator of the universe preserves right relationship. As humans we cannot fully grasp the mystery of the Holy, but we do well to give it space in our lives, in our heads, our hearts and our homes.
We’ve had lots of funerals here this week. It has been a reminder that, someday, each of us will shuffle off this mortal coil, and when we do we like to think of going home to God. That image gives us peace and removes our fear of death because we trust the grace and mercy of God. Jesus showed us that side of God. Jesus points the way home for us; the path of love, paved not with good intentions, but with true devotion. Welcome Jesus into your heart and home, today and every day. Amen.