Sermon of the Week
Be Thou My Vision: Heart of My Heart.
Keywords: See What’s in Front of You, Thanksgiving, Reign of God, Be Thou My Vision, Heart of My Heart.
I’m always amazed when I have been doing something routine, for years,
and then I see something that was always right there in front of me,
but something that went unnoticed.
This happens every now and then,
but the most recent occurrence was this morning.
I get into the church rather early on Sundays.
I revise a draft of my sermon,
work on notes for the worship service,
sometimes we have a meeting.
I’m not a morning person.
My Sunday morning schedule isn’t natural for me.
I’m almost never the first one awake in our house,
the one who has to keep quiet so that everyone else can hopefully stay asleep.
It works just fine, most of the time.
Often I’m awake just enough to make the drive into the church.
I’ve had my morning tea,
my shower, snuck out so as to not wake up Brook or the kids,
or our dog Annie, hopefully—
all that helps wake you up a bit too.
It’s always really quiet on the roads on Sunday morning at 6am.
I can count the number of cars I pass on one hand,
and I often wonder:
they’re all heading off to church this morning too, right?
Surely that’s who my fellow morning commuters are this fine Lord’s day…
It is almost like auto-pilot, that Sunday morning drive.
Brook, who gets up early almost every other day of the week,
tells me her drives that early to go work out are like this too…auto pilot.
You just kinda zoom off to where you’re going.
For me, the route may vary a bit, but there’s not much going on on the roads,
and there’s nothing much good on the radio that time of day on Sunday, either.
Did you know that a lot of the local music stations
feature some odd mix of self-help or community programming on Sunday mornings?
I think they think no one is listening, either….
This morning I was making the drive into the church
and was more than half way here,
driving over on Mission road just south of 103rd street
when a DEER crossed the road in front of me.
It was a good way up there—
no danger to me, had I not been awake enough, you know,
or not paying attention
because I was engrossed in the Rocket and Teresa discussion
of local animal shelters over on Mix 93.3 FM.
Now, I know that it’s not that bizarre for a deer to live in the area.
I shouldn’t have been startled.
We have all sorts of wildlife beyond the normal city fare:
I’ve heard reports of foxes, for instance, the occasional possum.
But in all the years of getting up early and driving into the church,
I’ve never had a deer cross in front of me on a sleepy Sunday morning drive.
This wasn’t all that far, just one major street over, from the intersection
where I had a major accident last December,
when someone else crossed in front of me,
a Chevy instead of a deer, and one that I couldn’t avoid.
That accident was what I first thought of, when I saw the deer
already off the road and hopping the fence to get on with her morning.
So, even though I was probably a good football field away
from that deer when it crossed
it certainly got my attention.
The kicker, though, was this:
as I continued my drive to the church,
I noticed not one, but two of those yellow ‘deer crossing’ road signs,
one on Mission Road and the other on College Boulevard.
They’d been there this whole time,
warning drivers like me that, hey, you know:
keep a look out for crossing deer.
They might be there, so you might want to pay attention.
The rest of the drive in, I reflected on all of this,
enough to make a few changes to the sermon this morning—
how sometimes we miss things that are right in front of us,
how thankful I was to be safe, yet again, for another so-called routine morning,
how grateful I felt for another opportunity to rise and meet a new day
and to get to share it with people I love and care about.
It has me thinking a lot about gratitude,
and how we spark thinking about it, seeing it, enacting it, in our daily lives.
Today is the last Sunday of the church year.
Next Sunday is the start of Advent, of waiting and watching for the birth of Jesus.
We’ll have more opportunity to talk a bit about keeping alert,
staying awake at the wheel,
looking for the true signs of the season…all that next week.
For now, we’re talking Thanksgiving,
and the Reign of Christ Sunday that is always the last Sunday of the church year.
A pastor friend of mine tweeted earlier this week:
“I always feel a little sorry for
‘Reign of Christ/Christ the King/Last Sunday of Ordinary Time’…
Despite its plethora of names, it really is the Sunday
you just want to get through
so you can finally start Advent…”
And maybe that’s true.
Christmas lights are already beginning to be seen around town.
The holiday Starbucks cups are out.
If my unscientific poll from my time hanging out there this week is any indicator,
Peppermint Mocha has begun to edge out Pumpkin Spice Lattes
maybe two to one…
And with Thanksgiving so late this year, maybe we’re ready to turn the page
and get on with it.
But we’re going to spend one more Sunday before we get there,
lingering on these themes of Thanksgiving and Gratitude.
We’ll kick Advent off with a bang, for sure…
advent hymns starting next week,
lighting of the advent candle,
a fantastic all church Christmas party, all of that.
For now, let’s not rush ourselves too quickly ahead,
lest we miss some obvious things that are right there in front of us,
maybe some things that have been there the whole time,
right under our noses.
This passage from the Letter to the Philippians might be my favorite passage
in my favorite letter from the Apostle Paul.
I’m always being reminded of something I need to hear,
when I read Philippians.
And this reading is no different:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Let your gentleness be known to everyone.
The Lord is near.
Ok, God. I get it.
Take time to smell the roses, be thankful, acknowledge goodness all around me.
Rejoice in the Lord always? [Read more…]