July 5, 2020 – 5th Sunday after Pentecost – Sermon by Rev. Brent Neumann

   by Brent Neumann

Day 117

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be always acceptable to you our lord our strength and redeemer, Amen.

We continue to work with regular time in our readings, using this time to continue to develop and enhance our faith. The readings this morning focus on that very same concept. The first one is taken out of Genesis, telling us about Abraham and his son Isaac: the son who was a gift from God through his wife Sarah. Sarah has died now, and Abraham has asked his servant to go out and choose a wife for his son. He is not to choose any wife from among the Canaanites. Abraham tells the servant that he must travel back to Abraham’s homeland and find his extended family and choose a wife from among these people.

The servant travels into the ancestral home and is praying while he travels, praying about how he will know who the appropriate wife for his young man will be. He arrives in the land and finds a well. He sits by the well and lays out a couple of conditions. He is praying to God to help him with this discernment. The discernment is about laying out these conditions and if they are met, he will know that this is an appropriate and God-filled direction.

The servant knows the tradition in these lands and the kinds of behaviours he can expect from the people who live there. He knows that the women will be ones who will be coming to the well to get water. He is looking for a young woman who will bring him water to drink. However, he prays to God that the young woman will not only provide him water, but will also offer to draw water for his camels. We are told that a young woman arrives, and he talks to her. She provides him water and offers to water his camels. It was the sign he was looking for and Rachel (the young woman) meets all the criteria that the servant prayed about. Rachel agrees to go with them, and the marriage arrangements were made.

In the second reading, we have the letter that Paul wrote to the Romans. In this reading, Paul is talking about the struggle that he has been having within himself. He states: “Why is that I end up doing the things that I don’t want to do, and not doing those things that I want to do.” He sees this behaviour as sinful. He is upset with himself and is declaring that to the people in Rome.

This struggle is something that all of us have had. There is not one of us who has not found themselves trying to figure out why we did something that we later regret and how often have we wondered why we weren’t doing something that we should be doing. All of us have done this in our faith and in our lives. The key in this is that we continue to pray and work on this. We are called to continue to work through our struggles so that we can get to a place where we either understand why this is happening and stop it. Or, we take the time to learn about God in the struggle. Struggles are there for us to learn, and sometimes our struggles are things that will remain in our lives as way of keeping us connected to God.

Our final reading, we have moved into the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus continues to teach his disciples. He is talking about the human condition. He is teaching them about things that are true. He is telling them that if people are closed it does not matter what we do. It does not matter what we say they will always interpret our behaviour from their perspective. He tells them about John the Baptist and himself. John came into their midst fasting and they state that he had a demon. Jesus comes into their midst and he is eating, and they say he is a glutton. It does not matter what you say when people are closed. When their hearts and minds and souls are closed, they will not hear the call of God. The key in this is the trusting of this call within. To open ourselves to this still, quiet voice, allowing it into our bodies and allowing it to stir within. We are to trust God in all things. We are to trust and open ourselves that God is in all things.

We are called to understand how God loves all of us, and how God moves within us and around us. The work for us is understand how he speaks specifically to us within our very beings. I bring you back to that point I made before, in that this is not an intellectual response, rather this is an experience. This is not something we simply talk about; rather this is something that we experience within our hearts. It is something that we experience in our souls and in our bodies. It is learning about how God moves in our bodies and our lives.

The more we learn how to do this, the more we understand when God is speaking to us. We learn about how God directs us and leads us. The key in this is to learn how to not only be open to God in our lives but to remain open to this as much as possible. The key to this is learning to understand how God moves, learning how to trust God in that movement and to be as transparent to that movement as possible. There is reciprocity in this as the more we open the more we encounter.

This journey of faith is about continuing this relationship in a way that keeps us growing, Keeps us moving forward in our own understanding, keeps us growing in our own understanding and continues to call us into an ever deeper understanding of the life in faith. It is in this growth and movement that we are fed, freed, saved, inspired, called, and gifted. God fills us though his abundance available to all.

May we all continue to take this walk of faith. Thanks be to God.