Sunday, September 07, 2008

Who Do You Trust?

Remember the old Johnny Carson quiz know the one he had before he became famous? I dating myself...anyway, that's the phrase that came to be because of the collect for this Sunday. And then, of course, with the ubiquity of politics, the question seems then based on the reading below is today's sermon...September 7, 2008

Who Do You Trust?
The Democratic and Republican conventions are now over…you may cheer if you wish. So now the question comes to us; “Who do you trust with your vote.” That is certainly a question of consequence. It is a question of importance. The nation is at war and our economy is in a down turn, the credit markets and especially the mortgage markets are in nothing short of crisis mode. It appears that the Federal Government is poised to rescue both Freddie Mac and Fannie those quasi governmental agencies that were supposed to guarantee affordability of housing to the average American. Now it appears that some questionable mortgage writing practices have put millions into a foreclosure mode. Thus how we vote will matter significantly. Mind you, just as a cautionary note; even the candidate of your choice may not be able to keep all the promises he or she makes. Surprise!

So that brings us back to the question; “Who do you trust?” Today’s collect begins with these words; “Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts” When we think of the question of trust, we quite naturally think of loved ones, but not always politicians and used car salesmen. There are so called “Trust” companies, but that’s a different kind of trust. There are clergy, some of those can be trusted, but we’ve seen examples where our trust can be put to the test even there. There are teachers, members of the extended family, there’s the boss, there’s co-workers, and then there’s my best friend. It is good to be back here at the altar and in this pulpit after a nice vacation period. I feel a kinship and a friendship growing between us. I feel that the very trust of friendship growing between us.
We are now half way through our contract dates…some of us are beginning to ask what of that period…and what happens then? In all cases, there are a variety of ways in which we can gauge our trust levels. It takes a while for instance for a priest and a congregation to build up trust levels to the point where we can really move ahead together and get serious about setting forth the praise of Almighty God through our service to our community and those in need. It takes time. And it doesn’t take much for that trust to be broken or to be put to the test.

Before we get to that question though, we continue on task to do what God formulated in our early conversations
1. First to continue the work of healing among our people and to recruit into this fellowship those committed to the mission of this church.
2. Secondly to live into our mission statement; to be “A house of prayer for all people”,
3. And thirdly to find a way to make ourselves good stewards of all that God has given this church; and that before the end of our three year contract to make significant progress to become a self supportive congregation, joyfully generous to the point that our budget is balanced and focused not on survival but on mission.

God has called us into relationship. God has built a goodly level of trust between us and thus we now enter into this new season and we continue to celebrate this congregation’s 275th Anniversary.

Our history as a people of God goes back much further than just the history of this church. Think of the faith of our ancestors and how that was put to the test. They fled the Egyptian army in haste and Moses stretched out his arms and the Red Sea parted and the children of Israel walked on dry land as the waters stood up like two tempestuous walls one to the right and the other to the left. The children of Israel were free. And Pharaoh’s chariots sank into the depths like a stone. So far; so good! Ah but then the reality of wandering aimlessly in the desert for 40 years began to set in. And the faith of the people in God and in Moses was put to the test. The people murmured and complained in the hearing of God and in the presence of Moses. And the patience of both was put to the test. And yet out of the fullness of that life together God’s law grew in the people’s hearts…the concept of justice grew and the trust of God and God’s people for one another also grew. It is in the crucible of that history that we became the people of God. And so the first lesson teaches us to remember what God has done in our lives. The Passover of the Lord is that memorial and this Eucharist is the Passover over of Chist who was sacrificed for us.

So as we learn the message of trust we learn likewise to honor God’s law and in doing so, to owe nothing to one another but to love one another. This is the fulfillment of all God’s law. First to love God and likewise to love one another. Those two commandments are not just like one another they are congruent with each other. It is in the reality of that love that we thus form a deep and abiding trust of one another and God.

So what then do we do when that trust is broken? Folks that are very close to us can break our trust, so can those in more formal relationships. Jesus gave us clear directions on that one. If somebody causes an offense against you, you then must bring that offense to the attention of the one who committed it. Ninety percent of the time a direct and forthright conversation will win over the offender. With a bit of patience, inner self control and prayerful wisdom, this stratagem will most often effect the reconciliation and restoration of trust so necessary in a world so beset with alienation.

We don’t always to this. It is often easier to talk about someone than it is to talk to that very person. This can be someone we love very much. Something in our own insecurity causes us to feel very vulnerable to direct and honest conversation. And so rather than be reconciled to our loved one we allow the distance between us grow even further apart. Alienation takes hold and grows by the hour.

In a community of the people of faith this is not how we act toward one another. Instead the husband says to the wife; you know we have to talk. The friend says to his or her best friend, want a cup of coffee…or maybe I’ll buy you a drink. Maybe you can even begin with an apology and take the high road…how often that wins the soul.

The winning of the soul also wins the practice of the presence of God. For in that truth, in that moment of coming together and reconciliation, in that time where forgiveness once again overcomes guilt and unity overcomes estrangement, it will always be in a moment like that when God becomes palpably real. For when two or three are gathered together in God’s name…there Jesus is too.

So who do you trust? I know who I trust in the current political campaign. But I’m not saying who right here and right now. You’ll have to drag that out of me…kicking and screaming. There are any number of people I trust, because we have forged strong relationships over the years based on an honest sharing of our deepest experiences. The more we practice this kind of life, the more we come to know that God is indeed in our midst.

So who do you trust today?

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