Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Sermonizing

Just in case you missed going to church this Sunday or fell asleep during the sermon.

As a former Sunday School teacher I was sometimes challenged by high school students, "How can a person grow in Faith?"  To them it seems like a yes-no thing.  You are either one of the lucky ones who has it or you are screwed.  They feel that it is very unfair since they have been raised in an age of reason and science.

The heart of today's readings was Luke 12:34, "For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."

Today's homilist took the the same route as every other homilist I have ever heard preach this passage.  He unconsciously "corrected" the grammar to, "Your heart is where your treasure is."  This a rather obvious observation, isn't it?
Yup.  I am one of those guys out in the pews.
But what if the original grammar was correct?  What if the message Jesus was actually trying to drill into his listeners was: "Build up your treasure in heaven (even if only a small part of you believes at the start) and your heart will follow.  Your actions open your heart to the grace of the Holy Spirit."

Recent research consistently confirms the existence of "Cognitive Dissonance".  Obviously, this language was not accessible to Jesus's audience.  But there are many messages in the Bible that laud the people who reluctantly believe but have the courage and trust to act on that partial belief.

We live in a reductive, scientific world.  We like models of 2*H2 +1*O2= 2*H2O  There is one-way causality.  But what if causality can be two-way?  In fact, pure H2O has a pH of 10e-07....that is, at any given time a very minute amount of water (one in every ten million molecules) is dissociating back to hydrogen.

Human behavior is seldom as crisp and definitive as chemistry, but we still try to apply the rules and tools of the hard sciences.  We flatter ourselves.  We want to believe that our values shape our thoughts.  And then our thoughts direct our actions.  One way causality.  End of story.

In fact, our thoughts (Faith and values), our words and our actions are as intertwined as our veins and arteries.  I like to think of them as being like three dancers.  Sometimes they are well matched and in sync.  Other times they are mismatched and painful to watch.  But if one of the dancers, be it Faith, or Words, or Actions takes a strong lead, then the others will fall into sync and it become beautiful.

At this point in the sermon a hymn spontaneously happens:

The theme of the dynamics of Faith, Words and Action are well developed in the book of James.  Give it a whirl.  It is a short, easy to read book.

It is normal to have doubts.  But speak and act with dignity, honor and respect.  Speak and act with proper awe and respect for God.  One morning you will wake up and realize that Holy Spirit blessed you with the gift of abundant Faith.

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