Sermon: “Promise Keeping”
Rev. Glenn G. Grant
Kirkridge Presbyterian Church
Transcription from November 28, 2021
Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors.
Promise keeping that's something that comes up a lot this time of year, except as I was talking with Zach, probably not the way most of us think about it. We think about, oh, the promise of family getting together for the holidays, or we think about the promise of the weather forecast, which I don't know about the rest of you, but been, never seems to be quite to the point where I would call a fulfilled promise.
I don't care whether you think that there should have been more snow or less snow today. Because it depends upon which weather forecast you listened to, whether they're right or wrong, or whether you've got the promise to mount. But we think about promises a lot. We make promises to each other. You know, we make promises to our spouse. We make promises to our children, or to our parents. And our promises, well, we have the best intentions. Let's put it that way because we know that we don't always manage to keep them, but our scripture lessons today, both had to do with God's promise.
First of all, we had the text from Jeremiah. Where the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Judah, I will fulfill the promise I made. And we all sit there and say, oh, wonderful. Fulfill the promise. That's good. And yet we don't necessarily see how that affects us. And then of course, in our gospel lesson from Luke this morning, is Jesus telling us about the signs of the end times and what's going to be happening before the son of God and son of man comes in his glory.
Yeah. Sounds kind of fantastical doesn’t it? There's going to be all these portents in the heavens and on the earth and everything is going to be to the point where we're worried about whether we're even going to survive it.
And we say, well, that's kind of this allegorical image that Jesus is portraying here, isn't it.
And then we said, well, hold it. But Jesus also said. This, this generation won't pass away before it's all happens. And we sit there and saying, okay, we're a little over 2000 years later. Um, that's more than a generation, isn't it? And we take it. Literally. We take it literally. But first of all, if we're talking about Jesus, the son of man, the son of God, What's the generation. Is it just the generation of humanity? We have all these labels. We have the greatest generation. We have the baby boomers. We have gen X, we have gen Z. We have gen…, whatever it's and we have these labels of generations. But what if the generations are really defined by what humanity is doing in relationship to humanity.
On NPR this morning? Debbie and I are listening to an interview with Jane Goodall.
And Jane talked about what got her into science to begin with and how that led up to her research with the chimps and how her research with the chimps got her to the point where she became a climate activist. Because of what was happening to the chimps and their populations as a result of deforestation and illegal hunting and everything else.
And so she becomes this activist and she's tracing this whole process. And she says, you know, for generations, for years and years and years, scientists thought that humans we're so much better than all the rest of the animals. And in fact, she had to fight to get science, the science world to understand that chimps were more like us than we believed, because until Jane Goodall's research, it was thought that no one other than humans, no organisms, no living beings, other than humans use tools. And that, that was a defining difference. And she had video of chimps using tools. And of course, since then we've learned that other animals use tools, crows use tools. There have been evidence of other things like dolphins working together to protect something from a shark attack or from sharks. And we now have evidence that trees talk to each other.
And she says, and we're starting to realize that all those things we believed about humanity separate from the rest of the creative world were bogus that we are not separated, that we are connected. And maybe that is the beginning of the maturity of the generation of man, maybe Jesus was not talking about a generation as in like one set of parents or one particular grouping of offspring.
But if it was talking about that generation of man in general, so what if fulfilling the promises is something that is that long-term. What does that give us? What does that give us? If the promises are talking about over the whole course of human history, what does that give us? What it gives us is something that we can say, okay, this is what's happening right now.
We're dealing with COVID right now. We're dealing with, oh my gosh. Now we've got the Delta variant. Oh, Nope. Now we've got the Omicron variant, and we look at things like that and we say, oh my God, everything is going downhill quick. We've got, we thought we were working in the right direction on racism and we've got a more divided country race-wise now than ever. And yet, and yet we have this promise from God that in the long run God's promise is going to be fulfilled.
The days are surely coming when I will fulfill the promises that I made.
Well, when somebody makes a promise to you, do you sit around and worry about all the other little things that are going on while you're waiting for them to fulfill their promise?
I know there are two ways of looking at those kinds of things and all of us kind of, maybe we're more one way or the other way. Maybe we fluctuate back and forth. But one is that if somebody promises us, they're going to do something for us, we focus only on that. And we can’t understand why they're taking so long to do it.
Yeah. If a parent promises the child, the latest version of the switch, that's a gaming system, by the way. They're going to focus on getting that switch. They're not going to worry about everything. They're not going to worry about the fact that they haven't cleaned their room. Like they promised mom, they're going to worry about the fact that they're getting the switch and heaven forbid it doesn't come at the next occasion where they thought it was going to arrive. You know, right now you pay attention to the news. All those people that have ordered Christmas gifts online, and the promise shipping date…
Yeah, don't hold your breath folks. Don't hold your breath. There's a promise there you're going to get it, but it may not be on your timeline. Let me start to think about that. Does that make a difference? How much difference does our timeline make to someone else's promise? How much difference does our timeline make to God's promise?
We have this wonderful church calendar that by the way, today's new years, today's new years in the church. We start the calendar all over again. This Sunday, first Sunday event.
And part of that reasoning is because of beginning of advent is when we focus on God's promises long-term and now we go through the rest of the year, focusing on how those promises get fulfilled in our own lives.
I lost track of where I was before I went off on that tangent. It is God's promises that we live with and we get so wrapped up in all the little stuff. I said that one is where you focus solely on what the person promises, the other type of person or the other way. We, the other swing of the pendulum we say, okay, that was promised. And now it's out of my mind. And unfortunately, there's probably too many people in the world that when it comes to God's promises, it's out of their mind, they may or may not even believe in God's promises, but they just put it out of their mind. And you know, those folks you can tell when you watch them. You can tell by the way they're living their lives, that God's promise is not anywhere near the front of their consciousness because God's promises require something of us and the way we live our lives, See in the gospel lesson is says do we have to be prepared at all times?
How do we prepare at all times for the fulfillment of God's promise?
Well, since those words came from Jesus my guess is that the intent here is that we are supposed to be living out the rest of what Jesus taught us. We are supposed to be living in such a way. That the blind are able to see and the death to hear the lame to walk, the widow to be taken care of the poor to be lifted up the prisoner to be set free.
Now that doesn't mean we walk around unlocking all the prisons and it doesn't mean that any one of us has the ability to necessarily restore somebody's sight or hearing.
But it does mean that we have a role in setting free. Those who are spiritually locked up spiritually blind, spiritually deaf, it does mean that we have a role to play in taking care of the poor and the widow and the orphan and the outcast because until those things are taken care of. According to the scriptures, this generation shall not pass away.
This generation shall not pass until the day of the Lord's coming is fulfilled.
Promises promises made we'd make promises all the time.
I don't know about the rest of you. I only know of one being that has always, always, always kept the promise without exception, the promise is that God's going to take care of us, God is going to take care of us. And sometimes we come up with that question about. If God's taking care of us, why do we have so many people that are sick and in the hospital and struggling and so many people that have died of COVID, if God's always going to take care of us? Well as a humanity, as a whole, God is taking care of us. God has given you. And the wisdom and the knowledge for the scientist to develop vaccines and it's getting so they can develop them faster and faster. There's one company that is already working on a vaccine for the Omicron, variant, and they expect to have it available by February, never before in human history has the vaccine been developed so fast. God has given us those kinds of things. But when we take that down to an individual level, maybe God's promises for us are a little different.
There was a young man playing football yesterday. For his high school team. He scored the winning touchdown, giving his team, the state championship 14 days after he lost his mother to cancer. He felt that his mother was responsible for him getting into the end zone on that final play, He could have been bitter. He could've refused to play. And I don't think anybody would have felt less of him, but his promise to his mother, was that he was going to play his best. And of course, as a mother, her promise to him, I'm sure a long time before was that she would always be there for him. I think God's there was kept. God was there taking care of him. God put him in a place where he had an entire team that was helping him to fulfill his promise to his mother.
God's promises are not only for us, but they're a model for us to follow when your promises are made in such a way that. You are going to do everything you can to fulfill them. And that it is for the benefit of others. That's following what God has taught us through Christ. And it is that promise that gives us the hope that we try to live into that hope that allows us to go about our daily lives. Doing what we think is right, regardless of whether the outcome is what we want or not, but it's that hope that allows us to go through life, doing what Christ taught us to do. It's that hope that we come into the advent season. Remembering, because, you know, in a couple of weeks, four weeks, we're about to celebrate Jesus' birth. And that is part of the fulfillment of God's promise, but we're celebrating it because it happened a long time ago.
So as we've come to the time of celebrating that we have to remember these other stages that get there and hope that we have in God's promise for us is what gives us hope to live our lives as Christ taught us to live, it's not something that's just a mere little wish. But it's something much deeper, much broader that gives us our lives their very meaning. So let us do our best to not only live in the hope of God's promises for us, but to do our best, to live out our promises together. Amen.