22nd Sunday after Pentecost—Lectionary 29C—October 20, 2013
Preached at Lutheran Church of Framingham
Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. Amen.
Have you ever been called a mean nickname?
It is amazing how a simple name can cut your to the core, but it is a reminder of the power of names:
– Knowing each other’s names is the first step to forging a real relationship.
– Hearing your name can get your attention in the midst of a loud situation.
– Your name can proclaim who your mother is or whose sibling you are, or might indicate who you are married to.
But the ultimate display of the power of a name is the name God gives us when we are still in our mother’s womb—the name that were are publically called at the font—Child of God.
Like Jacob, who had schemed and yanked heels throughout his whole life, yet was blessed, renamed, forgiven, and given new life, we too are renamed, forgiven, and given new life even though we have done everything but earn it.
That name—Child of God—entitles us to promises. Promises that we can hold up in God’s face and demand be fulfilled, if need be, and we can also hold them up in the face of evil, which is kind of what we do with verse 7 of the Psalm. We are not claiming that nothing bad will ever happen to us—either out of triumphalism or stupidity, but we make this claim in a performative way—as we say it we change the social reality, it is impossible to be separated from God when holding on to verse 7, meaning that evil has no ultimate power.
So although we might have been called some hurtful names throughout our lives, and surely will be called a few more before we die, we have also been named with the best name, one full of promises, forgiveness, love, and new life.
But with the great promises the name comes with, also comes great responsibility.
To demonstrate what I mean, I turn to the parable from Luke of the widow and the unjust judge. The moral being, the unjust judge gives the woman justice, even though he “neither feared God nor had respect for people,” so how much more will God deliver justice—but that doesn’t just stop with God, it extends to us—God’s people, God’s hands and feet in the world, God’s mouth piece.
And so we are called to be good stewards—of our time, money, talents, power, influence, vote, access…
Sometimes we are called to give a fish, sometimes we are called to teach someone to fish. Sometimes we are called to vote in a certain way so that someone might have just access to fish, and other times we are called to call our already elected official to tell them to vote in a certain way so that someone might have just access to fish. (To be clear…the fish is a metaphor).
My point is that there are many ways we are able—as children of God, as American citizens, and as human beings—to bring about justice in the world, make our current existence all the more like the kingdom of God, where all have access to simple things, like daily bread and adequate shelter and an education.
The unjust judge gives the widow justice out of annoyance, how much more can we do out of love because God first did so much more for us. Amen.