Homily by The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. Francis Episcopal Church, Goldsboro, NC; 24th Sunday after Pentecost, 30 Oct. 20116
Proper 26 RCL Year C: Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4; Psalm 119:137-144; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12; Luke 19:1-10
Jesus says the Son of Man comes to seek & save the lost.
As followers of Jesus, this is part of our calling.
The idea of seeking the lost among our brothers & sisters in the human family can seem scary. Remember: Jesus calls us to work with him. Notice how Jesus calls Zacchaeus by name.
What difference do you feel when someone calls you by name & when a clerk calls out “#352” or “Next”?
God knows your name.
Knowing someone's name can be transformational in a relationship. We see this today in our Gospel.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to work for the transformation of the world as God intends it to be.
We are in this together & have the Holy Spirit to guide each of us & us together. We hear echoes of this transforming work in our 1st lesson.
Habakkuk addresses times of destruction & violence when people are out of sync with God's love, & it is easy to give up. The Jewish Study Bible notes, the question is not why justice does not emerge but how do we live in times of injustice.1
We see injustice in our Gospel. Zacchaeus has practiced injustice as a tax collector for the Romans.
He's a thief & a cheat, as Sermons4Kids bluntly says.2
Despite the low opinion of Zacchaeus in his community, The New American Bible for Catholics says: he “exemplifies the proper attitude toward wealth...” Like last week's repentant tax collector, Zacchaeus seeks fuller life & God's love. Despite his physical challenges & the blatant negative opinions the people have of him, Zacchaeus doesn't give up. He resorts to climbing a tree since no one is going to give him a boost or get out of his way for him to see Jesus.3
When have we failed to give someone a boost or
blocked someone from seeing Jesus?
God calls us not to give up in our work to share the Good News of God's love, which has created this beautiful world & this beautiful human family of which we are an integral part. God calls us to live by faith & to make the truth of God's love known. We are to share it so the news is plain & simple. God says in our 1st lesson:
Make it plain on tablets so a runner can read it.
When I'm working out at the fitness center, I don't run on the treadmill, like the younger people on either side of me do. I walk because I'm reading homework for the course I'm taking. Even walking, it is hard to see the words. Look at this passage in our 1st lesson & see a runner taking a message from one community to another & a
with clear writing telling God's vision & God's love:
God loves you.
All are welcome.
How can you, how can we, be this billboard of God's love? Notice how the Thessalonians function as a “billboard” when Paul shares with others about them.
Paul says: “We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers & sisters,...because your faith is growing abundantly, & the love of you for one another is increasing.”
This positive influence on other churches & individuals you DO have. Your steadfastness, faith, love & God's grace active among you are why you consistently function so well.
God's love which you have & share gives you strength & grace to continue positive interactions as we work toward our annual Christmas In The Forest AND beyond.
As we continue handling life's storms – both literal weather & personal storms – it is easy to overlook our strengths, gifts, love.
When we get short on personal time [who among us doesn't?] & time with God in prayer, we can be challenged like Zacchaeus trying to see Jesus, to see what God wants us to do. These are times we can find refreshment & peace in this simple song from the Iona community & its complementary gestures I learned last week from The Rev. Dr. Jay Koyle of The Anglican Church in Canada, our presenter at Clergy Conference.
Let's experience “Take, O take me as I am” with the simple gestures that open us to God.
Blog Readers: these links give you lyrics & insights, but not the gestures we practiced at our Trinity Center retreat, which I hope to post here.
Butterworth, Susan. “The Righteous Live by Their Faith”. Accessed: 29 Oct. 2016.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. Gen. Ed: James L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers. 1988.
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
“A Little Man with a Big Problem”. Accessed: 29 Oct. 2016.
The New American Bible for Catholics. South Bend: Greenlawn Press. 1970.
“Zacchaeus Goes Out on a Limb”. http://www.sermons4kids.com/ Accessed: 29 Oct. 2016.
1 Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Translation. P. 1226.
2 “A Little Man with a Big Problem”. http://www.sermons4kids.com/little_man_big_problem.htm and “Zacchaeus Goes Out on a Limb”. http://www.sermons4kids.com/. Accessed: 29 Oct. 2016
3 Idea from Butterworth, Susan. “The Righteous Live by Their Faith”.