August 7, 2022 Sermon preached by The Rev. Katie Holicky

8.7.22 First Sundays Life Together Worship Rev. Katie Holicky, Assistant Rector

Y’all I just love these First Sundays when we all come together to worship, learn, and grow as one big church family. Last time I preached at a First Sunday Life Together service you might remember that I combined my preaching styles. I am going to do that again today. So, you will hear some researched content, and you will be invited to view some objects, and respond outloud to some questions. Are we all ready? 

Good! Because that is part of the theme of the day. Don’t be afraid. Be generous and focus on what Jesus asks and not what the world demands. And be ready! Jesus is on the move in the world and will be present to us in unexpected ways and at unexpected times. 

So, you might remember that here in Luke Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and he is helping his disciples, his friends, to be prepared to be the ones who will lead the way, because he will die in Jerusalem. And as his friends are traveling with Jesus physically on the road… they are also traveling spiritually and mentally as they learn how to live the way Jesus teaches them; to understand the fullness of discipleship. Who else might be disciples? Anyone you might know? Anyone in the room? Yes! We too are the disciples of Jesus! Let’s think about what we are to learn as disciples from a few of the phrases Jesus shares with us today. 

“Do not be afraid” 

I think one of the reasons that Jesus tells us not to be afraid is that there is plenty to be afraid of. Do any of you have any fears? I know I certainly do! Another reason Jesus tells us this might be that fear is a tool of the empire. The world puts a lot of information in front of us every day that is made to make us feel afraid and to distract us from focusing on what Jesus tells us to focus on. Fear can freeze us, and consume us. Fear can make us forget ourselves and our direction. It’s important for us to be able to notice our fears and find ways to ease them. 

One thing that helps me to notice my fears, name them, and start to let them go is prayer. Sometimes I hold these prayer beads (object: hold up Anglican prayer beads) to help me name my fears, give them to Jesus, and trust that Jesus will soothe my fears when I ask him to. Fear is hard, and I trust that in the name of Jesus I can do hard things, we all can! 

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”

Jesus is reminding us that we are to live in the world while living differently in the world. To not get caught up in the “stuff” of the world; the things that the world tells us give us value… how we dress, what we have, how important people think we are. We know those things are not what give us value in God. Jesus is inviting us to keep growing our hearts for him and God. To take good care of ourselves and others, to work for God’s love and justice in the world and to make sure the dignity of every person is respected. This is to be our treasure. 

Last week at Family Worship I showed some of you my favorite bowl gifted to me by a rather generous and kind neighbor. Do you remember what I told you about this bowl? What it reminds me of? (you can shout it out if you remember, vestry members you heard me say this at our last meeting as well) (hold up bowl: favorite bowl from last week) This bowl reminds me to only look in someone else’s bowl to make sure they have enough, this is one way we are rich towards God. Holding this in my heart helps me to know that I am trying to walk in the reign of God, and not the reign of the empire/ or the world around me. 

“Be dressed for action”, “Have your lamps lit”, “You must be ready”

Friends, we must be ready for Jesus to move in our lives and the life of the world. In our daily lives we do many things to prepare ourselves for the day or different activities. When Phil and I are going on adventures we do things to get ready. I often ask myself what I need to get ready. I love going for walks at night in the summer. So, when I get ready… I am sure that I am… 

  • “Be dressed for action” (object: put on my favorite sneakers) 
  • “Have your lamps lit” (object: put on my head lamp)
  • “You must also be ready” (object: water bottle) 

Today Jesus is asking us to think about what we need to do to prepare our hearts, minds, and bodies to be ready to receive him at any moment. Maybe that is taking care of ourselves and working through what distracts us from God. Perhaps that looks like exercise, therapy, daily prayers, spending time with family, volunteering. Whatever it might look like for you, Jesus is inviting us to take the time to think about how we each need to prepare ourselves to see him moving all around us. And part of our being ready is setting aside our fear, storing up our treasures in heaven, and preparing ourselves to be on the lookout for Jesus. 

Ok, here is the part where you will really get to start shouting out some of your own thoughts! Don’t be shy now! Everyone is invited to participate. 

  • I wonder… What does it feel like to hear Jesus tell us not to be afraid? 
    • How do you do that?  How do you let go of your fear?
  • I wonder… How you might store up your treasure in heaven by following the generous spirit of Jesus in your daily life? 
    • How might you live a life that Jesus inspires and set aside the striving and acquiring of the world? 
  • I wonder… How Jesus is inviting you to be ready? 
    • What does that look like or feel like for you?