Homily: February 14, 2016
February 14, 2016, YEAR C; Rev. Phil Boelter, Vicar Remember the ad slogan:
Red bull gives you wings? In August 2014,
energy drink advertiser Red Bull agreed to pay
more than $13 million to settle a false advertising lawsuit. While the lawsuit
made reference to the company's slogan
plaintiff Benjamin Careathers sued the company
not for winglessness
but for falsely claiming that the drink
boosted the energy levels of those who drink it. What gives YOU wings? What enables you to move through life
successfully? In the case of the psalmist
and Jesus in our gospel
and Paul in our second reading
it was a word from God which gave them all wings.
First the psalmist.
The image in psalm 91
is one of God as a great big bird-
And the psalmist is being carried like a baby chick
right here- in the crook of Gods wings. Here the psalmist remains
sheltered far from all trouble, plague and bother......
delivered from every evil. Who WOULDN’T want to live like that?
But I have lingering doubts about this image
as comforting as it might be on the surface. First,
God doesn't always take us away from our troubles.
God keeps, protects, guards us
in the midst of our trouble.
That’s quite a different experience.
God calls us each and all of us to grow through our life experiences,
not run away from them.
This is different from saying that God causes our troubles.
But God DOES want us to learn from them.
God is invested in helping us
to become mature, complete individuals.
God does want to give us wings,
but not to soar above or escape our troubles.
We are given wings so we are able to respond to all of life’s circumstances
with positive energy,
A more fitting ending to this psalm for me
might be God gently nudging
the young fledgling out of the nest.
Time to go now!
Learn to fly!
Think of the times in your own life when you grew the most.
Often, we flourish most in the rough patches of our lives.
That’s one of the lessons from Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness
in our gospel reading from Luke this morning.
Jesus has just had one of those spiritual high experiences at his baptism-
We talked about it here a few weeks ago-
The heavens open,
and Jesus and everybody else is awestruck.
But now in today’s reading-
that very same spirit who descended like a dove at Jesus’ baptism
leads Jesus out into the wilderness
just in time to be tempted by the devil.
We sometimes think that our problems are puzzles to be solved,
questions to be answered,
a test or quiz to be passed or failed.
That’s not what Jesus’ temptation is all about.
In God’s plan sometimes
things that really bother us
and get under our skin
are not just reminders of our humanity.
They are also an invitation from God
Beckoning us into a mystery to be lived with God.
Stones into bread?
Reckless dives off a temple top?
None of these are the real points of Jesus’ temptation
by Satan in the wilderness.
Each time Jesus’ answer to Satan shows a glimmer of this truth.
Christ answers with a Word from God,
focused on God.
God is worthy of our listening ear.
God is worthy of our adoration.
God is worthy of our absolute trust.
It really IS about God- not about us.
That Word from God that Jesus lived by,
is the same Word that the Apostle Paul talks about
in our second reading this morning.
The Word is near you-
upon your lips and in your heart.
God’s very Word,
are all woven into the fabric of our individual lives.
This is the truth that will really give us wings.
The Word is near us,
as the Apostle Paul says,
on our lips and in our heart.
I have heard this Word for decades,
having been raised in a religious home.
I could probably recite at least some parts of the Bible from memory.
But that intellectual exercise really means very little,
without that Word making the short 18 inch journey
from up here in my head,
down to my heart.
It’s a journey that began when I was five weeks old
And the word was spoken over me at my baptism.
That same journey will stretch beyond life itself
Until someone as yet unknown to me
pronounces that Word over my grave after I die.
In between is that wide expanse,
the wilderness of our lives
into which the Spirit leads each one of us,
to teach us how to live.
Such is the road to spiritual maturity.
God leads us out into the wilderness of our lives.
or whatever you choose to call it,
ceases to be something merely external.
Instead it becomes a deep part of each of our lives
and our lives together.
This internalized Word gives us wings,
Because it helps us live each day
By calling on the name of God for strength.
As Paul reminds us,
Everyone, everyone without fail,
who does so will be saved.