A Life Lived from Faith

Preacher: 
Rev. Katherine G. Dougherty
Sermon Text: 

Proper 5 – Third Sunday After Pentecost

2 Cor. 4:13-5:1 - June 10, 2018 – Year B

A Life Lived from Faith

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer

            Maria lived in a small rural village with her family.  There were certain parts about their rural life that could make a person wish they lived there forever.  The warm sunshine that greeted them most day....waking up to calls from hungry goats and the laughter of her mother as the day began…the beautiful mountains that protected their village…the glorious dark blue, night sky that glistened with stars from afar…and the singing and dancing of her community as they celebrated life. 

         But there were also tedious tasks that came along with daily life – like carrying buckets of water from miles away to provide for one’s family.  This was a very important task to be done each day, for the work they did helped to provide for their family. 

         Maria was the oldest child, but due to a birth defect, she was the smallest.  Each day, her mother would hand her a small pot as they headed out to gather the day’s water.  As Maria watched her siblings grow, she noticed the pots they received, grew larger.  As her younger sisters grew taller than her, she saw them go from carrying a small pot like hers to large buckets.  Her mother noticed that Maria had grown increasingly quiet over the previous days and weeks.  After returning from gathering water one afternoon, Maria’s mother approached her and asked why she seemed so sad and discouraged.  Maria pretended she was fine, but after some persistence on her mother’s part, Maria finally shared what was wrong. 

         She told her mother about what she had observed.  She talked about the growing strength of her siblings and how they were able to carry larger and larger containers of water.  As they grew, they were able to contribute to caring for the family in such an important way.  She spoke of how much she loved life with her family in their village, how grateful she was to God for her life, but how she felt discouraged by the little she could contribute due to her size. 

         Her mother listened carefully to her daughter, and then asked her to fetch her water pot and follow her into the garden.  Maria did as her mother asked, and when she arrived in the garden, she joined her mother beside some flowers and vegetables that grew there.  Maria’s mother bent over and cut some of the flowers and handed them to Maria.  They left the garden together and went to a house on the far side of the village.  An elderly woman came to the door to greet them.  Maria could tell, life had been hard for this woman – her hands were gnarled with age and the woman struggled to walk.  Maria had seen her in the village many a time.  Her mother greeted the woman with a hug and asked Maria to hand her the flowers.  The woman beamed with joy and thanked Maria and her mother. 

         As they walked back to their home, Maria’s mother shared that it was Maria’s little pot of water that fed those flowers each day.  Gardens were traditionally used to only grow food, and some of the water they carried each day feed those vegetables.  But it was Maria’s water that allowed her mother to grow a few flowers and to share them with others.  It was Maria’s little pot of water that fed the hearts of those who struggled in their village.

         In our New Testament reading today, Paul was speaking to the people of Corinth.  His words were one of encouragement.  He recognized that living a life from faith could be hard.  One of the topics Paul was dealing with in his letter to the Corinthians was the criticism he had received from some members of the church in Corinth, who claimed that he was poorly-spoken, unimpressive, and weak. Against their criticisms, Paul continued to faithfully rely on Christ and not his own skill or power. This passage presents a beautiful example of the way in which Paul’s faith had strengthened him to face times of challenge by keeping his focus on the Good News. 

         Paul tells them and us today to not “give-up” – to focus on the Kingdom of God even when things around us speak to the opposite.  God’s love is not something we will feel “some day.”  The Kingdom of God is not something we will only experience “at the end of our days here on Earth,” but both are with us now…whether we can see it or not.  It is through God’s grace and our courage to live a life from faith, that we are strengthened and renewed each and every day.   

         It does take courage to live a life from faith.  Throughout Paul’s letters, he spoke of what a life from faith looked like, but my question is…what does living a life from faith in the 21st century entail? 

         Paul talked about believing in the Kingdom of God and in God’s commitment to us despite the current state of affairs.  We are not being persecuted as some early Christians were, but we are bombarded with negative news and reasons to be afraid of the world and of one another.  We can choose to be weighed down by the negativity or we can choose to find the good in people and to reach out to one another.  

         Gratefulness by identifying what we are thankful for is another way of living a life from faith.  When the responsibilities at work are weighing us down or our bodies are feeling more fragile than we’d like them to be, or the struggles seem bigger than the celebrations of life, taking time each day to name what we are grateful for brings light back into our life.  Turning to our faith – grounding ourselves in our belief that God’s Kingdom is now and available to us, helps lift us up and reminds us to look for God’s grace in our daily lives. 

         Reaching out to one another is an essential part of living a life from faith.  God calls us into community with one another and with God.  We are not meant to be solitary creatures.  By getting involved with community activities, we find ourselves distracted from our worries, and before we know it, we may have let go of our burdens for awhile and had a little fun in the meantime.  Sharing time with others – whether we are giving to them or they to us - allows us to connect in life-affirming ways.  It takes some vulnerability, but it’s amazing how it can feed one’s soul to be with others.   

         Little Maria was sure she had nothing of value to give, but her mother helped her realize what a huge gift her little pot of water gave to the community.  Life is full of both celebrations and struggles, of times to dance and rejoice and of times when darkness tries to win the day. 

         But we know the Good News!  We have been promised and shown that God’s love for us can overcome anything, and it is through practicing our faith that we find strength and are renewed each and every day.  May our days ahead be ones in which we live from faith and lift high the Good News of God’s Kingdom.  Amen.

 

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