Sunday, September 11, 2016

Homily for September 11, 2016

Anniversary of 9/11 – Luke 15:1-10

            Dear people of Grace – Grace to you and peace from God our creator, and from our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  AMEN

            I could not help thinking about it  this morning, and all week, actually: 
            today is the 15th anniversary of 9/11. 
            Fifteen years ago today, I remember – it was a Tuesday morning, and I was on my way to church. 
            We had just gotten done with our congregation’s Rally Sunday.  The theme was “Follow Jesus”, and for my sermon I had brought along a bag full of shoes, imagining which would be the best pair to wear, if I was going to Follow Jesus.
             Then it was Tuesday morning, and I was on my way to church, and on the radio there were these strange reports about a plane hitting one of the World Trade Center buildings.
            I imagined it was a small plane.  I imagined it was a mistake.

            It was not a small plane.  It was not a mistake.

            So many images have been seared into our brains from that day,  things we never wanted to see, things we could not have imagined.  
            But I’ll tell you what has stayed with me all these years, which images I most remember, the ones I carry with me – they are images of police officers and fire fighters and other first responders. 
            While everyone else was trying desperately to escape, running down stairs and out of the buildings, they were going in the opposite direction, running into the buildings and up the stairs. 

            All of their training prepared them for this moment – for this work – to reach out and try to rescue the lost.   
            And whether they knew it or not, they were following Jesus. 
            At the very least, they remind me of Jesus, because he ran toward the danger, he went to Jerusalem and to the cross, rather than away from it. 

            Today is the anniversary of 9/11. 
            But, on our calendar it is also a day called “God’s Work, Our Hands” Sunday.
             It is a day that we have given to serving our neighbors. 
            For us, today, it is fun work – we get to make packages for people who are homeless. 
            We get to use our hands to pack food and socks and gloves for people who can’t live without them. 
            We get to stand with one another while we do that, and also pray and read scripture and eat pizza too. 
            Today, serving our neighbor is fun.

            God’s work, our hands,  our feet – and our voices. 

            The gospel reading today tells a parable about a sheep who was lost, and the shepherd who went to find it. 
            There were 99 sheep who were okay, but the shepherd left everything to go and look for the lost one – because who knew what could happen to it! 
            And of course the shepherd is Jesus, and the feet that go in search of the sheep belong to him, and the hands that bring that lost one home are his. 
            Make no mistake about this.   
            Ultimately, our lives are in his hands. 
            All of us.  Children, and the parents who tuck them in.    Students, and the teachers who guide them.
             Homeless people, and those who find shelter for them, and give them warm socks. 
            First responders, and those they are searching for.    Ultimately, our lives are in the hands of Jesus.

            But sometimes – Jesus uses our feet, our hands, our lives – to show the mercy of God, to show the grace of God, to show the amazing, awesome, unimaginable love of God. 
            Sometimes – more often than not – our ordinary feet and our ordinary hands are call to be there--- to go to Louisiana and help muck out houses, to go to school and read to children, to go to places where people are lost, and to show them the truth: 
            that they are beloved, so beloved of God that he is willing to walk among us, to heal us, to feed us, to die for us. 
            We are called to use our hands for this healing mission, in so many ways.

            Sometimes it is fun.  Sometimes it is scary. 

            But our hands are the shepherd’s hands, because of his calling, his mark, on our lives.  
            And our feet are the shepherd’s feet, because he has called us his beloved children, because he has first loved us.

            God’s work.  Our hands.  It’s true, every day, by the grace of God.

            And the work of God is the work of sharing grace – the work of loving and feeding and lifting up sheep. 
            It is the work of tying quilts. 
            It is the work of pouring water over the heads of babies. 
            It is the work of making food and welcoming homeless people into our church.
            It is the work of holding hands when we cross the street. 
            It is the work of praying together. 
            It is the work of running into burning buildings.

            God’s grace.  Our hands.  Our feet.  Our lives.  Follow Jesus.

            To the glory of God.