Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 9, 2020
August 9, 2020
TEXT: "Be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the
wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon
as he comes and knocks”.
- Luke 12:36
A wise old pastor was asked by a parishioner, "When do you think Christ will come again?" The pastor replied, "I didn't know He had been away."
"And He departed from our sight," said St. Augustine, "that we might return to our heart and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here!"
We feel the darkness closing in. We feel the threat of it. We don't know how to deal with it. Then God, in His great Love, sends the light! Let there be light at the center of this darkness! And the light that is given is the Spirit of Christ within us.
Light -- ordinary light -- is a form of energy, a source of power which stimulates the nerve-endings of our eyes. Christ, our Light, is the power of God Himself stimulating the nerve-endings of our life, making it possible for us to penetrate the darkness, put things in their true perspective, see what life is all about. More than that, it is a power that gives us strength to cope, strength to live creatively, strength to love unconditionally. When we open the window of our heart to God we can see what the beloved disciple John saw when he wrote, "And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen His glory, the glory of a father’s son, filled with grace and truth" (John. 1:14).
Look! Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world ... The true Light which enlightens everyone . . . (John 1:19).
Jesus Christ did not go into hiding after He rose from the tomb. He made His dwelling among us. He wants us to see His glory.
Artist Holman Hunt once told some friends that he intended to paint a portrait of Christ. His friends were not impressed. "You can paint only what you can see," they said. "But I am going to see Him," Holman answered. "I will work by His side in the carpenter shop. I will walk with Him over the hills of Galilee. I will go with Him among the poor, the blind, the lame and the leprous. I will go to Gethsemane with Him. I will travel with Him to Calvary and climb the Cross with Him, until I see Him, and then I will paint Him." The result was Holman Hunt's deeply moving painting, "Light of the World" in which Jesus is knocking at a closed door.
Among the many commentaries on this painting is one by Rufus M. Jones who wrote: Those of us who have stood with moved hearts as we looked at Holman Hunt's "Light of the World" knocking at the closed door, feel convinced that the great painter did live with Christ until he saw Him with eyes of joy and wonder. However, it was not a dead Christ that he saw, but the living Christ trying to find entrance into the human heart.
"I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.” says the Lord to His chosen people (Isaiah.. 49:6-7).
God gives us the Light, and that is an awesome privilege. But more than that, it is an awesome responsibility. Knowing that there are people out there waiting for the Light, and knowing that God has chosen us as His light-bearers, and knowing that if we fail the people out there we are failing God, is an awesome responsibility indeed. God gives us Light, but unless we share it with others it dissipates -- it is gone, and darkness returns. Perhaps the reason your life is not growing and being fulfilled is that you are not opening up the window of your heart and sharing the light with others. In an old Hindu poem, there is this line: "Thou hast to churn the milk, O, Disciple, if thou desirest the taste of butter."
"You must be ready," Jesus says in today's Gospel Lesson, "the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour” (Luke 12:40). "Be like those who are waiting for their master to return ... so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes ..." (Lk. 12:36-37).
We get so busy, we are involved with so many of life's trappings that, despite our best intentions, we begin to lose contact with the Master. We are no longer prepared to receive Him when He knocks. If you want to know what human life is about, "Behold! Look at the Christ." What do you see? You see One whose life makes it possible for us to love others in a very special way. You see One who gives us hope for the future. You see One who is the Savior of the world. You see One who is your Savior. You see One who comes to you personally, in a unique, individual way. Behold! Stay awake! Look until you see what God is doing for you through Christ at this moment in your life. You can look again, and look again, and no matter where you are in your pilgrimage, you can see something more there. This applies even to the most devout Christian believers, to those who are most faithful, to those who spend time regularly searching the Scripture and learning from it, to those who try to be obedient to the Spirit of God. Even those persons can look again and discover that God is always doing something new that can lead them to deeper levels of living and loving. God is always surprising us in this way.
In a large New England parish, it was the custom for the Church leaders to go on retreat each fall. There they would plan the major parish activities for the year ahead. At one such retreat, they decided that a big Christmas Pageant would be a good activity. When it came time to map out the production, they got into a long discussion of how to symbolize Jesus in the manger. They did not want to use a doll or a statue, and they ruled out using a real baby. Finally, they decided to put a light in the manger. They did this very tastefully so that throughout the Pageant a warm glow of light would shine out from the manger. On opening night, the house was packed, the audience was expectant, and the curtain went up. Immediately, all the principals realized that something was wrong and there was a moment of silent hesitation. Then, everyone heard the director say, in a loud, raspy stage whisper to the stage manager, "Hey Bill, you forgot to turn on Jesus."
The pastor of a rural Church deep in the Ozark Mountains suggested to his parishioners that they purchase a chandelier. The matter was put to a vote and the suggestion was unanimously rejected. "Why do you oppose the purchase of a chandelier?" asked the preacher. "Well," drawled one of his flock, "first we can't spell it, so how can we order it? Second, even if we did get it, no one can play it. Third, what we really need is more light."
One of the great things about God is that God knows we need more Light and God never forgets to turn it on. God is constantly whispering to each one of us, "Behold the Christ, the Light of the world!"