Sermon: “H8 2WORK”
Rev. Glenn G. Grant
Kirkridge Presbyterian Church
Transcription from November 13, 2022
Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors
H8 2WORK. You know if you can't understand the license plate that is there as a sermon title… And yes, I did actually see that license plate. You know, it goes right up there with all the bumper stickers. You know, like a bad day fishing's better than a good day in the office, or a bad day golfing, whatever it is.
There's an awful lot of us that at some point or another in our life, we hate to work. Most of us, probably it was in grade school when we were given homework. Why do we have to do homework? Do it all day in school and then come home and I have to do it more! And somewhere along the line, some of us either really got to hate it or we just learned to just get it done rapidly and get on with what we wanted to do.
Reality is, is most of us just hate doing anything that somebody else tells us we have to do. It's not the work. It's the fact that somebody else is telling us what we have to do. And we just bristle at that whole idea. Now, that's not the kind of thing that Paul was writing about and writing to the people of Thessalonica about.
There were a number of people there who believed that Christ's imminent return was a day-to-day issue, and so they had taken the idea that the Christian community was holding all material goods in common and taking care of everyone's needs as they arose, as license to not do a thing. They just decided that the community was going to take care of them and that they could just sit back and wait.
And of course, Paul is saying, uh, no, no, no, no, no, no. It's not the way it works here. You have to keep doing, you have to keep working. And contributing to the community if you want the community to take care of you.
Now, if we look back at the passage from Isaiah, we have this marvelous vision of the future. We have this, you know, God saying, I am about to create a new heaven and a new earth. Be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating for, I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy and its people as a delight and we have this wonderful vision from Isaiah, that's what we consider a prophetic vision about what is coming.
And we all want to see that. We would all love to see the beauty, the vision that Isaiah puts forth. You remember the rest of this about the lion and the lamb laying down together and the child being able to put their hand by the adder and not be bitten. And all of those kind peaceable kingdom images, and we say, my gosh, even if we don't get that far, just have peace between people.
And we'd like to hold onto that vision as to what's coming. What's coming, but, you know, there's always a but, but we want it to happen without us having to do anything. We want God to do that for us, and we sit back, and we wait.
We're about to go into the season of Advent, which is all about waiting, right? Unfortunately, as humans, we like to take the wait part and really stretch it out. We're going to wait for God to do this for us. We are going to wait until life is better. I know growing up, my father always talked about wanting to do an HO train layout, and he had a house with enough space that there was a room that he could actually do it.
But raising three kids on a teacher's salary in the sixties. Didn't allow money to spend on things like an HO train layout. And he would always say, when my ship comes in…
You've heard that phrase before? Yeah. When my ship comes in someday, when my ship comes in. He was waiting. Now he had good sense enough to add to that. When my ship comes in, it'll probably be a garbage scow.
And my brother, sister and I got tired of listening to him waiting for what we knew he really wanted to do. And so, we got him his first HO train set and wrapped it up to look like a garbage scow for Christmas.
But there's a point to that and if you just keep waiting and waiting for someone else to do it, it's not going to happen. It's just not going to happen. And the same goes for the church. If we are waiting for God's peaceful kingdom to come for this glorious vision of Isaiah to come to fruition and we're waiting for somebody else to do it, it's not going to happen!
If we are waiting for the political climate in this country to change to where we're not vilifying whoever it is that's on the other side of whatever issue it is and get back to peaceable discord, but yet we aren't willing to do it ourselves, it's not going to happen. And when the church talks about the fact that we need to make sure that the least of those among us are taken care of, if we don't lift a finger to do it, it's not going to happen.
And yes, friends, if we want the church to move into the 22nd century, or still even exist halfway through the 21st. It isn't going to happen unless we do the work to make it happen.
Think about that. If we want the church to exist, to the middle of the 21st century. You know, that's not all that many years away. It's one generation. And if we want the church to exist that long, then we can't wait for somebody else to do the work.
I know I've said it before, but study after study after study and survey after survey show that the youngest generation of adults, for the most part, don't go to church because they see a church that says one thing but does nothing about it.
They see a church that says that you're supposed to take care of these things, but won't do it if they don't look just like everybody that's already there.
They see a church that says that you're supposed to love your neighbor as yourself. And then they see people who advertise the fact that they're a Christian, putting down people that are not like themselves.
And unless we are willing to reverse that and do the work that is necessary, we're never gonna see this kingdom. We're never gonna see it.
We have to get off our duffs. And yet, I think everybody that's ever served on a church nominating committee will tell you that they have heard, well, I've done my share. I've done my share; I've done my time.
And that is exactly what Paul is writing to the people of Thessalonica about.
I've done my time, I've done my work, I've done my share, not if we really want to see the peaceable Kingdom come to fruition. Paul is telling them stop sitting there and get up and do what you need to do.
Christ isn't going to come any sooner whether you are doing the work or whether you're not doing the work.
So, in the meantime, be part of the community, do what is necessary to help the community thrive. To help people come to know Christ. Keep reaching out to others. Keep preaching at what we have taught you. Keep loving one another. Keep doing it. And what's more, keep working for the kingdom.
There's an old story, and I can't remember if it's a line from a poem or what it's from, but it's about a man that gets to the to judgment. And he's asking the Lord, how long must I continue doing this? And God's response is until I stop doing it for you.
I have a lot of colleagues that over the past several years have left the ministry, and yet, God keeps doing for them.
And yeah, I know. I know before anybody points out to the fact that I've announced that I'm retiring. I'm retiring from full-time parish ministry. I'm not retiring from ministry, because I know that God is continuing to do for me and so I have to continue doing for God.
Think about that. If God is still doing for you, you need to still do for God. So, when we're finished, when God is finished doing for us, then you can quit. Then you can say, you know, I don't feel like doing this work. I'm gonna sit back and relax. Except there won't be any reason to make that choice.
So, we need to focus ourselves in continuing to live out what God has asked us to do through Christ and love one another. To love that neighbor that we don't know.
We need to maybe take a page from some of the feel-good stories that come out in the news. I don't know how many people are on Facebook. There was a post there in the last couple days about a waitress. They live outside of Uvalde, Texas, and a family came in and was at her station and she recognized them as being one of the families that lost a child in the school shooting.
So, she paid the bill and put a note on their receipts saying our community is with you, God loves you.
That's continuing to live out the kind of life that will bring about God's kingdom. She could have easily said, this is my customer. They owe me not anything else, but she reached out to a neighbor in need.
They weren't in need financially; they were in need of caring and she reached out the only way she could. That is what we are called to do as Christians, and we are called to do it every day of our lives until God stops doing for us.