Sermon: "Loving Vitality"
Rev. Glenn G. Grant
Kirkridge Presbyterian Church
Transcription from March 27, 2022
Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors.
Our lesson from the gospel this morning was what I would hope it's a very familiar story for most of us. We've probably heard it over and over again since the time we were in Sunday school as young children. And of course, it was always brought up as you were growing up if you ever threatened to run away.
That never happened to me. Anyway, I think I was actually an adult when my parents accused me of being the prodigal son or something, but that's okay.
The prodigal son is one of those stories that, of course, you know, we think about the one who is lost being found, and we never want to admit that we're the one that's lost. And yet it's very much about each and every one of us. And even worse, there are times when we find ourselves to be the other brother, the one that never went anywhere, maybe you even growing up were the goody two shoes, sibling.
I can look around and see who it was.
But you know, it's all the parables of Jesus. We have to go through and see how, and when we fit in each of the roles, And of course, you know, we all want to be that loving parent. That's going to welcome our child back no matter what, right? Not always as easy as it seems, but there is something about what really is lost in that parable in this story is that preceded and the other parables, it's not the item or the person that is the focus of the story. And we always see it that way. You know, because we're humans, we want to put ourselves in the place of the people in the story, but sometimes the story isn't about the people, and this is one of those times. You see in the story of the tale of the prodigal son, what is lost is a relationship.
Relationship between brothers’ relationship between father and son. There's a trust that has been broken. You know, the younger son takes his share and goes off and squanders it and then comes back. There's that jealousy that exists when the older brother, the one that never went anywhere, finds that his father is having a party because his younger brother is back. And it's all of those things that have broken this, these relationships, this family apart. And of course, Jesus is telling the parable in the context of the Pharisees, accusing him of eating with sinners. And that's how we know that it's about the relationships with God. Because Jesus is talking and teaching based on the Pharisees saying that, these people are sinners. They have broken their relationship with God. And of course, to the Pharisees, that means they can't be in the temple, they are not clean and by association with them, they're accusing Jesus of the same.
Now I want to flip over to Corinthians passage a little bit and in, so doing, I'm going to reference another passage that's or another thing. That's the Matthew 25 initiative that our denomination has adopted. And one of the three things in the Matthew 25 initiative is vital congregations. Embracing vitality and building vital congregations. Now, what is vitality? Vitality is not just being alive, but living and, you know, there's a difference when you just get up in the morning and you go through your daily routine and that's all you do. But when you're actually getting up with excitement about life and you're going out to do and to enjoy life that's vitality!
Vitality was missing for the prodigal son. He was going through life. He was doing what he had to do day to day to survive because he had spent that inheritance. And he had to go and work for someone feeding the pigs and he was willing to come back and take that same role with his family again, rather than being treated as part of the family, all he was trying to do was live.
In Corinthians, Paul is writing to the people. And he starts off our passage from today by talking about from now on therefore we regard no one from a human point of view, even though we once knew Christ from the human point of view, we no longer know him in that way, but if anyone is in Christ, they're a new creation. God is making all things new.
And part of what we need to understand here is that God is always making us new. And if we just go through life, taking the next step, just getting through our daily routine, then we need to be made new. We need to allow Christ to make us new. We need to allow God into our lives in such a way that it restores that vitality to our life. We want to, we need to be where we're loving vitality.
That’s one thing to say, oh yeah, I'm excited about life. But are we, are we, do we really love vitality? Or do we say, oh my gosh, I got to get up this morning?
That doesn't happen in high school, I know…
Do we have to get up this morning? It doesn't happen to retirees either does it. I don't have anything I've got to do today. I'll just sleep in. Now, there's nothing wrong with sleeping in if you really need the rest, but if you're doing it to avoid leading a vital life and loving it, there is a problem. There is a problem because what you are doing is you are not allowing God to work through you.
Think about it. If you’re just going through your routine and nothing's changing and you just get up and you do the same thing you do every day, then God is not able to work through you. Because all you're doing is following your habits.
And if we follow our habits, then we are breaking that relationship with God. That allows God to steer us which allows God to enliven us and allows that spirit to work through us so that when we are out in life, we are doing things because we love doing them.
There's an old saying that you asked a person, why they want to climb a mountain. And the answer is. Because it's there because it's there. Why would you want to go out and hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine? Because I love being in the outdoors and love that challenge. Why do you like going out fishing? Why do you like going out and playing golf? Why do you like doing this? Why do you like this? Because I love doing it. Why do you like teaching? Because I love seeing the young minds open up when they grasp a concept, why do we love singing? Because it brings joy to people. And I can tell looking at their faces if we're not allowing ourselves to do things that we love, that God has put in us, that we love, then all we're doing is living and we are not living vitally. We are not loving vitality.
If we never pick up that pencil to sketch, even though we like drawing if we never pick up the hammer and nails and saw if we like building things. If we never pull the paintbrush out if we like painting, we are separating ourselves from God. Have you ever thought of it that way? And we are now the lost coin, the lost son.
We are the one that has been separated from God. Because we are no longer loving the vitality that God creates for us. And within us, we no longer are pressed or allowing the spirit to work through us.
When we stop using our God-given talents, we're lost. When we stop looking for new things in life, we’re lost.
The researchers tell us that one of the best ways to combat the possibility of the effects of Alzheimer's or dementia is to keep mentally active. Now that doesn't mean sitting around watching TV, it means doing things that exercise your brain, that you enjoy doing that, whether it be puzzles or whether it be playing cards, or something that keeps you mentally active.
And when we stopped doing those things, we're separating ourselves from God. When we stop loving life we have spent our inheritance and we've become lost. Amen.