January 3, 2021 Sermon, In God’s Time – David Cote, M. Div.

In God’s Time

Holy One, draw us in as we gather to worship you and to celebrate what has taken place. We thank you for calling us to you. We praise you for Your willingness to walk and talk with us. Holy One, as we draw our heart and minds to you, we ask that for just a few minutes that you block any other thoughts from our hearts and minds… Amen.

Happy New Year everyone, and may God’s light and blessings shine upon you in the New Year. We have a new beginning another opportunity to experience the blessings that God has placed on us and another opportunity to pass these Blessing along to others. We stand on a threshold of a pathway unknown that maybe filled with danger, yet it is a pathway that is also filled with hope and love.

How many sat on Thursday night watching the ball drop and on some level were wishing that 2020, never happened or at the least were glad to see it go. As I watched the celebrations for the New Year, I was struck by how many were talking and referring to society returning to our past normal places. Like we can go back to a time, before our society was turned on its head, and just take off were we left off. This led to a realization that we never left; off. Life, time, and history continued to carry on. Life took on a new norm, and as time continues, we will learn about another new norm, and I pray it’s much better than the old norm. This led to wondering about time and what it is:

Have you ever wondered about time? Other than in minutes, hours, days, or weeks. Are there different forms of time? Is there God’s time and human time? Or maybe, just maybe there is only one true time and that is God’s time; that humans attempt to control.

There are many things that I believe about time, but there are a couple beliefs that are foundational, First, that everything truly happens in God’s time and that we use and apply words and mathematic expressions to find some sort of explanation that makes sense to us. Secondly, we cannot go back in time. We have one opportunity to experience this moment.

As 2020 unfolded and continued in the world, there were moments of anxiety, stress, and fear for far too many. Many people forgot or they don’t know, that God has this, God truly does have this, as God is with us. Also, I believe that God is a participatory God, so God desires us to work alongside.

Far too many people are wishing that 2020 took never took place, like we can erase it from history, or maybe we should have a do over. But, my sisters and brothers, neither of these can take place, plus if that did take place, what should we do with all the lessons and experiences, both good and bad, that took place. Regardless of how you personally feel about the past year it is over and its now part of history.

History cannot be changed, it might be lied about or ignored, but it what has taken place, has taken place. There are many valuable lessons in our history, that should be taken, and sat with so that with the help of God: we will continue to grow and become a truly just and loving society. It is in our past where we can find the foundations to become more then who we were yesterday. It is in our past where we find the strength to continue for another moment. It is in our history that we can also find our hope, faith, and belief in the work that Jesus taught.

Regardless of your personal feelings about 2020, it is over and part of our personal and societal history. Today we sit at the threshold of a new beginning, a new year open to unlimited possibilities. But, as good stewards of the earth and its creations, we need to pray and reflect upon all things past, not to live in them, but to understand what took place and why. To understand what should be stopped and what needs to be done to continually as humankind learns to live into Matthew 25, to bring about the fruition of God’s Kingdom on earth.

We begin today’s Gospel reading with John taking us back to the beginning of time, to the beginning of the light, to an unveiling of a fuller explanation of what to place at the beginning. Genesis 1 begins:

1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good…

And so, Genesis continues for the six days of creation and the day of Sabbath. I believe that for John, this part of the story has been told, so it need not be dwelt upon or retold, yet there is one aspect of the story that God did not reveal until now. The placement and understanding of where the Christ, the Word, was in the beginning. John wants us to be fully aware that Christ Jesus was present at the beginning, is here today, and is here always. Close your eyes for just a moment, if you’re able and listen to these few words of the Gospel writer:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it…

The Gospel begins with the prologue containing important topics, Jesus is eternal, uncreated and imperishable, the word who speaks God’s words, the light of the world, the One who faces rejection and acceptance; and mediates God’s blessings, creation, grace, and truth.

Here also is the plot of the story: Jesus begins with God in heaven, sojourns to earth, and returns there. Jesus as mediator or broker: through Him all things were made and through him come grace and truth.

The world is hostile to the light and “hates” him… Yet, in contrast to those rejecting the light, John the Baptist acknowledges it, even brokering Jesus to Israel. John, knows Jesus is the true light of the world, disciples of Christ continually walk in the light, but many people on earth prefer the darkness. As with the light comes the knowledge of responsibility to our fellow person: family, friend, or stranger, all are God’s children and we are called to be with and amongst them. Bringing the light to the world. Which many will not accept, but some will accept this light and the promises made by God, taught by Jesus, and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

We find explanation and confirmation of God’s promises in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance,[c] having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

The world is a hostile place, but Jesus meets it with acceptance and gives believers kinship with him and God. We find our hopes and promises in our history and throughout history. History is nothing to be fearful of, it happened, it should be faced and reconciliation and/or restitution should be made if needed, and the lessons should not be ignored. Both the good things humans have done and the bad, should be sat with, to understand, to be reflected and prayed upon. Then and only then are we charged with going forward to carry the light into the world.

Before we move onto 2021, we should take the time to remember all that has taken place in 2020. There was much unrest as generations stood together to bring about social change for those who could not and do not find justice in unjust societies. The old and the young, individuals of many different ethnicities and races, stood arm in arm saying, “ENOUGH.”

2020 was a time of great anxiety and fear, yet if one took the time to see, truly see there was the light of God shining as neighbor stood with neighbor and none of the powerful or elite could stop the light. Jesus, taught us, those with eyes should see, those with hearing should listen: and when the stories are opened, reflected on, and prayed upon, there in the center we find God’s children living into Matthew 25,

‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

Did you see the light of God? Did you hear the Hope for the world? Did you see past the chaos and see the individual lights of God shining in and from those that stood against the chaos. There are far too many lessons and experiences to forget, too much history has taken place and will continue to take place; for today is tomorrows history.

Time will continue, the work will continue, the light shines as bright today as it did at the beginning. As we step over the threshold, into the New Year, how will you help God’s light shine onto the world? I believe that as we work in the world with and for one another, that the major changes taking place will be when we meet one another, when see one another, or sit with one another.

As we go forward, I believe that it’s important to remember that, “We are not responsible for completing the work, but we are responsible for being involved in the work.” What history revels is truth and how we carry this truth reveals our true understanding. We are children of God that are continually learning, and God willing continually growing to become more then were yesterday: both as individuals and as a society… God is with you and will guide you, if you’ll give God control, together we can write a beautiful New History… May it be so, Amen.

John 1:1-18
New Revised Standard Version
The Word Became Flesh

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life,[a] and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.[b]

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own,[c] and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,[d] full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son,[e] who is close to the Father’s heart,[f] who has made him known.