Thursday, April 03, 2008

Christians are all children of adoption. Sermon Easter 2, 2008: Dubay+

Christians are all children of adoption.

2Easter, 2008

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Over the past 5 years or so my parents and I have been digging into our genealogy. I personally have been hunting for the hidden hero, the standout to whom I can point and say aha… I am descended from this great man….don’t you see the resemblance.

However, as we dig and dig and dig we find that we come from normal people with normal problems, even some weakness…normal weaknesses …nothing to be too upset about.

In a book of heraldry I found that some of the earliest Dubays (Dube) were charged with the care and feeding of pigeons for Emperor Charlemagne. Apparently Charlemagne was the first man of great power to, in an organized and purposeful manner, to breed, raise, and keep pigeons. And we Dubays were right there in the thick of it. Later on the Dubays crossed the Atlantic and made a name for themselves as hunters, trappers, and public drunkards in Canada.

We have letters to a distant Uncle imploring him to come and serve as a doctor in his confederate regiment. And letters from him …many of them saying… oh I’ll come along there soon….I’m coming….don’t ya’ll worry. He eventually did get there.

On my mother’s mother’s side, down the Freeman line I ran into George Spenglar who in the early 12th century was the official cup-bear for the Bishop of Wurtzburg. My research shows that the bishop’s cup-bearer did assist in the purification of the Eucharistic cup and other holy table wear…but most of the time he was, in fact, the fellow left holding the bishop’s cup of wine… like at supper. He was the one to whom the bishop turned, not for advice, but to say.. here George, hold this. And then he died of the plague.

More recently I’ve learned that I have a Charleston relative, who was a priest in the low-country during the civil war. I’m guessing that some of us here this morning are related because of him as well.. because he had 5 wives and over 25 children in his lifetime. His name was William Otis Prentiss. He was the rector of Old St. Peter’s Church which used to be on Logan St. St. Peter’s burned to the ground in the 19th century when a great fire swept through most of the occupied peninsula.

In the diocesan history book I’ve found that he had been interim rector at nearly every parish in Charleston and the surrounding area at one time or another. So I have deduced that either he was a very gifted man wanted and needed for his gifts and talents for holding troubled parishes together or so bad a priest that he could only last a few months in any parish. If you are related to him I’d love to learn more… what I do know is that on his tombstone, in the old St. Peter’s cemetery on Logan Street, His inscription reads.. The Rev. William Otis Prentiss. Rector of St. Peter’s at the time of the Fire. Like it was his fault. It’s obvious to me, at least that the vestry had something to do with that epitaph and had the last word.

So I was born into an oddly dysfunctional family….but aren’t we all. No one’s family is normal…not if you take a few minutes to think about it…I’m not even talking about ancestors I’m talking about living relatives…

And on a spiritual level, again, all of us here were born into a dysfunctional family. We’re born into this world thinking…most wrongly, that we are god.

If you disagree with me I want you to spend a few hours with our nearly 3 year old daughter Julia… a beautiful, beautiful child. Who thinks that she is in charge, even though she rarely gets her way.

She will look will look me dead in the eye, smile on her face and say, “NO Mommy says I don’t have to take a nap.” she tells me in her own special way that she am in charge. She is God here… bow to me…

But really we all seek that kind of God like control in our lives…. It changes, usually from childlike rebellion to a more organized, more thoughtful, life plan. But really, for many people, God only is included “in the plan” after tragedy strikes or when plans fall apart and desperation kicks in. Until the pain ends and we all can become Little Gods again…and begin to control our own destinies…. So we think…

In fact, that is the history of our faith journey… it is the journey and faith of a dysfunctional family. Connected to God the father through holy covenant, running back and forth from being under the true God and then suddenly saying I’ve got from here Father…no need to worry your self….I’m in control…

Parking JokeLfor 10:30 only (guy is looking for parking place, has very important meeting… finally in desperation he throws up his hands and says… God please find me a parking space. Just then he sees one come available and he throws up one hand to heaven and says… never mind God… I found one. Sorry to bother you.

That’s our biblical history isn’t it. First God makes us… and establishes us as his earthly caretakers and children. It’s all yours He told us…everything… all the birds, fish, and plants. All the rocks, rivers, and oceans…take care of them for me, give them all names… live a good life …and I will be your God and you will be my children… Just do yourselves a favor and stay away from that one tree…that one in the corner of the Garden…it’s no good for you.

And Satan says to us…”if you eat from that tree you will be like God. You will know what good is and what evil is and you will think that you can handle that…..go ahead eat the God fruit”….when we decided we were in control, our relationship with God the father hasn’t been the same since….throughout the rest of the bible our story is the same. God makes a promise to keep us safe and give us life and we say yes sure, good idea and for a while we get with the program but then we fall, and stray and try and take control…. And God punishes us and we say we’re sorry and repent…and then we do it all over again…Sounds like a 2 year old to me… sounds like a week in my life… seven days…loving God, then acting like a God, falling, repented and starting again…

We think we know better, He waits patiently for us to come back to him, again and again…until finally we get Jesus…who is the door, the gate, the way to life.

And through him we are adopted back into the good family…back into the garden family.

Paul says because of Jesus Christ we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.

And at this adoption Jesus says you can’t be perfect, God the father requires perfection, believe in me, I’ll make you perfect…you will take on my perfection and through me God will adopt you. Back into the family…back to the way it was when the first children of God were made. And God was God and children were children and we didn’t get those two things confused.

Have you ever read an ad for parents who are seeking to adopt? Here is one that I pulled from our paper..

Art teacher and Video editor yearn to give your baby a loving, supportive, creative home. Expenses paid…

And these from the internet: For us, being parents is the single most challenging yet rewarding job we will ever have. We are good Christian people and want to provide your child with everything he or she needs to lead a happy, healthy, and successful life. Our family has strong moral values and believes in leading by example. We would like to thank you for considering us to be the adoptive parents for your child.

We promise to love your child and raise him/her to their highest potential. Your child will be loved unconditionally, honored fully, supported emotionally, financially, psychologically and spiritually. He/She will be protected before all others, encouraged daily, motivated to reach for the stars, taught by our example, listened to intently, understood without judging, appreciated with an open heart and adored with patience, kindness, laughter and tons of hugs and kisses.

What loving desperation. What longing.

I know that there are number of adoptive families in our parish…I wonder how many ads like this you have written yourselves….

When you think of our God (God the Father) God our Father you can think of Him having the same desperation for our presence in His life…. For the yearning of these childless couple multiplied by infinity for just one unrepentant human…. That’s why He let Jesus come to our world.

People say to me all the time.. Oh the church is so mean”..” “Oh your God is so mean”… Your god excludes…you have to be a certain kind of believer to get the your heaven…I don’t believe in a God that would exclude….

My only answer to them is this.. and Hank helped me a great deal with this…

I try and tell them… look…. You’re going about understanding God all wrong…because you want god to behave like you. But God is bigger than you. He loves us more than you and I can ever love someone… He is not seeking to exclude people from eternity, he’s thrown the door open wide to us through Jesus Christ. He’s done all that is possible in the UNIVERSE to save us

He keeps chasing us like CS Lewis called the Hound of Heaven ….In Jesus he crushed the gates of Hell, through Jesus He defeated the darkness, by giving up his son unto death and the following resurrection…he provided for us...little old you and me… life forever….if we believe.

It not that God excludes it’s that we won’t be included….we won’t get on the bus when its parked right outside our door….we say no…

God says, “I hear your no….let me give you my yes.”

“Believe that my Son is God, Believe that he can forgive you, believe that any transformation that needs to take place in your life is not for you to do….but for Him to do… Jesus will reform you, regenerate you, rework your heart…to be closer and closer to His…..but you will have to let Him… you will need to say a simple word Credo… I believe….take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to thee…”

Think of today’s gospel. Thomas missed the first show didn’t he…. He missed the matinee….

Jesus had come and gone and given proof that he was alive again… He didn’t need to come back…the other disciples were convinced…the church may have had enough believers right then and there to begin in earnest. But Jesus came back for Thomas… Jesus came back to remove his doubt too… the same doubt held by the other disciples….there was just one more disciple to bring on board….and he came back…

And Jesus is just that caring about us. He will not leave us alone. Until we are adopted…grafted into the vine, made sheep of his pasture….made once and for all Children of God.

That is the Lord we serve…that is the Easter Jesus. Head of the family with no dysfunction…where God is God and we are his Children…. If you want to know this God…If you want to get to know this bothersome, never tiring, tenacious pursuer of souls…you need go no further than to your Bible, Read the words of God…available to everyone and not so difficult to understand…God will meet you in His words…..

You need go no further than to your Christian neighbor who fights daily to know Jesus more and more each day….talk to someone whom you know is a believer. Ask them what they are thinking. Ask them who Jesus is to them… they will probably tell you…

And we need go no further than to our knees in prayer…

In prayer God reaches us through his Holy Spirit. Listening to our petitions and confused questions, bringing wisdom and comfort in distress, and rejoicing with his in our triumphs… prayer is the conversation in a Holy relationship between Father and Child…

Let us pray..

Gracious Father,.

You made us for yourself in creation, you walked with us and ahead of us through trial after trial as our Lord and God, You have disciplined us in rebellion and welcomed us with forgiveness in our repentance. And In your Son Jesus you have provided a way past doubt, a way past duty, a way into peace through faith in Him.

Today Lord, if we have doubts, answer our questions, If we know you already, solidify our feeble faith, and give us the assurance that you gave your servant Thomas so long ago, The belief that it is you that has made us and not we ourselves. So that we might leave these pews to bring Christ’s light into the world and to each person in our lives who is in need of your holy adoption. It is in your Son Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

Copyright The Rev. David M. Dubay 2008 All rights reserved.

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