Sunday, 29 September 2013

An Homily for a Fall Start Up on St Michael and All Angels

Gen 28:16 Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it!”
Time to wake up, friends! The lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are over. Summer days of soda and pretzels and beer are done for another year. Time to wake up, clear the summer haze, refocus, take note of the fact that the LORD has been in all the lazy, hazy, crazy summer places we visited whether we knew it, or remembered it, or not, and to give thanks and worship.

The LORD really is in this place, here, now. Lazy, hazy summer days can cause that truth to slip aside, as we enjoy other things, good things, but things in which we may have allowed The LORD to lose his rightful place.

After all, for us, according the invitation from your parish council earlier in the month, and for many Anglican, and other, churches around the world, this is Back-to-Church Sunday. For us it's also the first of two Ministry Fair Sundays—your annual opportunity to wake up and sign on for a new season of ministry, or to sign off on one and sign on for another.

Jacob was reminded of The LORD's sure presence in his life in his dream of the ladder reaching from earth to heaven with angels ascending and descending,
Gen 28:17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
It's true. If we as a body of people gathered for worship are also the very Body of Christ, the Church on earth, then this, too, is an awesome place, none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven. Re12.10 "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come" To be a part of that Sunday by Sunday, and to live our lives out of it, is the most important thing we ever do.

It's not easy. It's a fight. A battle. Today is the Holy Day of St Michael and All Angels. St Michael is one of four angels, archangels, actually, who are called by name in the Bible. The others are Gabriel, who visited our LORD's mother, Mary; and Uriel and Raphael who appear in the Apocrypha.

In our reading from Revelation (12), we heard something of the battle we're in. There was war in heaven (v7), Michael and his angels defeated the dragon and his angels (v8),
Rev 12:9 The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
So, the devil has come down to us with great wrath (v12) and we down here still have a battle to fight. How! St Peter tells us:
1 Peter 5:8-9 Discipline yourselves; keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.
St James adds:
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Here are three things you can do:

1. Discipline yourselves, submit yourselves to God through Jesus Christ in worship and service, so that everyone will come to know him. Disciples discipline themselves. Dallas Willard, wrote that, "A disciple is 'anyone whose ultimate goal is to live as Jesus would live if he were in their place.'" Any place where Jesus is is awesome. So worship, pray, read, act: that puts Jesus there and keeps him there.

2. Keep alert: in other words, wake up if there's been any spiritual sleeping going on and stay awake so you will know where the LORD is in every place.

3. Resist the devil who doesn't want you and me to know or do any of these things—doesn't want us to know that God is in this, or any other place in our lives, doesn't want us to realize awesomeness of this place; the house of God and gate of heaven, because that's exactly what this place is and who we are as Christ's body on earth.

Lazy, hazy, crazy seasons are good: they're re-creating and refreshing: they'll come again, but now, there's work to be done, especially for those of you with children. As I keep saying, it's hard work to bring kids to church, but it is worth it. It honours and obeys Jesus who said bring them to me, and it does them, and you, great good whether they, or you, like it or not. It's every bit as important as a healthy diet and all the other blessings you work so hard to provide. Thank you for bringing them.

Our Ministry Fair gives all of us an annual opportunity to consider how the LORD is calling you to contribute to the ministry of his church, a ministry we all share, in the power of the Holy Spirit, by living as Jesus would live if he were in our place, and so everyone who comes through these doors or encounters us outside them will be moved to say with Jacob,
Gen 28:16 Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it! How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
And Jesus, who saw us under all our summer trees, just as he did Nathaniel, said,
John 1:51 Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.