The sermon for week December 06, 2015
Enchanted ExistenceSamuel Buehrer, Sylvania United Church of Christ
Luke 3: 1-6
Enchanted existence…What comes to mind?
Sit with this thought…“enchanted existence.” Are you living an enchanted existence? Do you want to live an enchanted existence? Can one live an enchanted existence?
Many people might think of the Advent/Christmas season as enchanted. St. Francis…salvation meant “enchanted existence.” Honestly, enchanted is not the first thought that comes to my mind when I hear the word salvation. When I hear the word salvation, it triggers in my mind the many times when someone has asked the question, “Are you saved?” For me, this triggers a negative response not one of enchantment. I go negative, for the word salvation in my experience as most often been used when someone is trying to save my soul (as if they can do that).
But to be honest, there is a part of me that yearns for that enchanted life. The farther I go on this journey of faith, the farther I move from that time when that question, “Are you saved?” caused such a reaction. Now that question can be posed in many different ways:
1. Are you saved?
2. Are you right with God?
3. How is your soul?
Often posed at a time of great stress such as a time of illness or dying.
In all honesty, my thoughts are on this because of today’s text and a recent experience where someone posed this question in such a way that I became uncomfortable. One would think that after almost 30 years of ministry this question wouldn’t cause that response but yet it still does. But now the discomfort is not over any fear that I may not be among the saved, it is because of my own anger at the damage that the one posing the question may be causing. Because I have come to know that it is a question based on a theology of fear, which I do not think is healthy, but it is also a question based on bad theology. A bad theology that has caused way too many people to live in fear rather than as St Francis would say, in enchantment.
My own journey away from this fear was when a wise lay member in a former church had an answer for any who wanted to know if he was saved. His answer was, I was saved 2,000 years ago by what the Christ had done. Memorize, claim, someday someone will ask.
Since then a journey of understanding, a journey of the heart, a journey whose destination I have come to understand as that of enchanted existence.
Bad theology had gotten in the way of us experiencing that very thing that God not only wishes for us, but from experiencing who we truly are already.
If we only had eyes to see it.
Consider the text for this day. Heart of the text of Luke is verse #4. Preaching “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of our sins. The key words are repentance & forgiveness. There is a third key word. One that is often overlooked. The word “for.”
Let your thoughts wonder. Repent…forgiveness of sins…dwell on your need to repent, consider your sins. Theologian…you are like a worm. No child of God language there.
1. Repentance. (Greek) The word repent means to turn around, reorient oneself, to go the other way, see it from a different angle, to change ones mind, ones way of thinking.
Notice this, not a single definition is tied to the word sin. Reclaim the word repent.
2. Forgiveness.. (Greek) To let go. Forgiveness was seen as God’s work.
3. Sin – That which separates us from God
4. Consider the word ‘for’. In time, does it mean turn so that God can…or turn because God has already done. Sadly many preachers have gotten it wrong and interpreted it to mean repent so that God can. This wise lay person was correct. Turn because God has already done.
Verse 4 might read then “preaching a baptism of reorienting one’s life because God has let go of that which separates us from God.”
When you realize that, life truly becomes enchanted, for one comes to realize the presence of Christ all around
Advent season, repent, let’s turn as best we can, let’s gain a new way of seeing what God has done for us, what God is inviting us into…this enchanted life.