Homily: August 9, 2015

Pentacost 11, YEAR B; Rev. Phil Boelter, Vicar Do not let the sun go down on your anger,

Paul writes in our second reading this morning.

 

How do YOU handle anger,

your own as well as others?

 

Some of us blow up when we get angry....

Running like a Sherman tank roughly over other peoples’ lives.

 

Whether it’s being cut off in traffic,

getting shut out of a job promotion,

or being chosen last for the basketball team.

 

We choose to direct our anger outward-

against those people or situations we perceive to be a threat.

 

Some of us react differently.

internalizing our emotions....

stuffing it all inside and turning that anger inward.

 

I couldn’t possibly let someone know how deeply he hurt me!

It must be my own fault,

After all, other people don’t seem to have this problem.

I’ll just hide it away over here in my achy breaky heart.

 

Very Minnesotan.

Very human.

 

When we react in these ways

We for sure hurt ourselves,

and many times we also injure others.

 

Is there a BETTER way to deal with anger?

There must be,

Or why would the Apostle Paul say

"Be angry and yet do not sin."

 

That better way is the way of Love.

 

"Live in love,”

Paul writes,

“as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us,

a fragrant offering  and sacrifice to God."

 

This love forms the core of the Way of Jesus-

more important than theology or creeds

or church attendance,

or feeding the poor and housing the homeless.

 

More important than even praying

or anything else we can do.

 

Because when we choose to love,

We are the most like God we will ever be,

especially when such loving is difficult or next to Impossible.

 

This piece about controlling our anger

is part of a much longer laundry list.....

Paul is listing do this, stop that etc

 

The list goes on for three long chapters.

 

Paul gives instructions about families,

sex,

money,

politics ,

even  government.

 

It’s almost overwhelming-

Paul does this in almost every letter he writes.

 

Here’s the lesson

from today’s reading-

 

Its not just about anger versus love-

although that’s a good place to start.

 

Its not about what we do,

Or a long list of do’s and don’ts

that God is so concerned.

 

It’s about who we are.

 

This is what Christian commitment is about-

from the day of our baptism to the day of our death.

 

It’s not about rules,

Its about relationship.

 

We have in the Episcopal church five Baptismal promises-

Next week we get to test drive these

when we ll have three baptisms.

 

Each of the five promises is like a widening circle of water in a pond-

Waves of relationship moving outward

From ourselves and our own particular faith community

To the world.

 

Listen to what God is asking of us:

 

Question 1

 

Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship,

in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?

 

Translation: are we committed to living life in community?

 

We could just continue to exist by ourselves

But the way we grow is through relationship, sharing,…. in community.

Baptism is one entry point for that relationship.

 

Question 2

 

Will you persevere in resisting evil, and,

whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

 

Translation: will you and I pursue a life of forgiveness- first for ourselves?

Sometimes in our lives we need those mid course corrections-

For example- when we get angry-

 

But God is simply and always saying to us -

“Dear child-

Come back here to the center- to the heart,

To love, to community.”

 

Question 3

 

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?

 

Translation:

Are we willing to live and share that forgiveness with others?

That forgiveness is never more truly ours

Than when we share it in loving relationship with someone else.

 

Will we take the forgiveness we’ve received and share it

With those closest to us,

Even with those with whom we might be angry,

Or who are angry with us?

 

Question 4

 

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

 

Again- a widening of the circle of God’s love…

God ourselves, our church and now to others beyond.

Will we begin to discover God in other people,

In ALL people?

 

Question 5

 

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people,

and respect the dignity of every human being?

I will, with God’s help.

 

Will we show compassion for all the creation?

Finally, its not just about our own salvation,

Our own church,

Even our neighborhood

Or species.

 

Its about that compassion spreading out beyond us to all creation.

 

These are like ripple rings of expanding love and compassion-

Moving out from that core of baptism

Where God says:

 

I love you!

Now let that love move out to others, to the world,

To all creation.

 

All five of these baptismal promises are high goals to try and achieve-

 

Not easily done,

In a day,

In a week or a year,

Or even in a lifetime.

 

So,

The prayer book answer

To each of these five questions is not a simple yes

It’s the answer

“I will, with God’s help.”

 

That answer highlight relationship, not rules.

Progress... Not perfection.

 

Such is the Way of Love to which God has called each of us.

 

I like these words of Martin Luther,

A much better preacher than I could ever be.

 

This life, therefore, is not godliness

but the process of becoming godly, 

not health but getting well, 

not being but becoming, 

not rest but exercise. 

 

We are not now 

what we shall be, 

but we are on the way. 

 

The process is not yet finished,

but it is actively going on. 

This is not the goal but it is the right road. 

 

At present, 

everything does not gleam and sparkle, 

but everything is being cleansed.

 

Will we follow this way of love?

We will, with God’s help.

Amen.