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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sermon: Anything Is Possible if You Show up for Work

by Interim Pastor Hollie Holt-Woehl

The Presentation of Our Lord
Luke 2:22-40

In the 1989 movie titled “Dad” there is a scene near the end of the movie when the elderly dad, played by Jack Lemmon, is talking with his middle-aged son, played by Ted Dansen. The dad is dying of cancer and instead of thinking deep and profound thoughts he is singing television theme songs and thinking of the 1947 World Series.

The son asks his dad what he was thinking of the 1947 World Series. Dad says, “It produced one of the great moments in baseball history between the Yankee center fielder Joe DiMaggio, prince of players, star of stars, and the Dodgers left fielder Al Gionfriddo, second stringer…. Well it is the sixth game, bottom of the sixth inning, it is 8-5 Dodgers, two on, two out. Up steps DiMaggio, he hits a smash deep left, had home run written all over it. Everyone… knew it. But here comes this little Gionfriddo guy. He’s racing after the ball like he doesn’t realize it was hit by Joe DiMaggio. At the last possible moment he jumps, reaches over the rail, robs DiMaggio of a three run homer. An incredible catch, but then comes the really amazing thing. Dimaggio is just approaching second base when he sees Gionfriddo make this amazing catch. He gets so upset he kicked the dirt. This man who never showed emotion was human after all. It took Al Gionfriddo to bring it out. You know what that means to me?”

The son replies, “What?” Dad, “In America, anything is possible if you show up for work.”

Anything is possible if you show up for work. It is about going about the daily, everyday work because you never know what is going to happen.

I think about this for our faith life also. Anything is possible if we show up for a life of faith. Anything is possible if we go about our daily life being open to the Holy One. We never know what is going to happen.

Look at Simeon. Simeon is just an ordinary guy, he is not a priest, a Pharisee, or a scribe, but he is righteous and devout looking for the consolation of Jerusalem, and the Holy Spirit is upon him. He is a faithful watchman for the fulfillment of God’s promise that he would not see death until he saw the Lord’s Messiah. He is just going about his day one day and the Spirit guides him to the temple. How do you suppose this took place? Did the Holy Spirit speak in an audible voice and say, “Simeon go to the temple?” Or did the Holy Spirit block off his way so that he could only go to the temple? Or did the Holy Spirit speak in a quiet voice to his heart and mind saying, “Maybe a visit to the temple NOW would be a good idea.”

Then when Simeon gets to the temple, what is it that draws him to the baby? Once again, was it a voice, a feeling, or did he see something, like a halo? How the Holy Spirit works, speaks, leads, guides, is an absolute mystery to all of us. Simeon is just going about his life, “showing up for work,” living and serving God, so that he is open to the Holy Spirit.
Look at Anna. She shows up for work every day in the temple as a prophet of God. She too is a faithful and devout servant. She is 84 years old still going to work every day as a prophet of God, in fact she never left the temple. She worshiped and prayed night and day in the temple. When she comes to Simeon and the baby Jesus she began to praise God and she too recognized the baby Jesus as the one for whom they all had been looking. How did she know? When you are going about your daily life how do you know when the Holy Spirit, leads, guide, speaks, directs?

Oswald Chambers once said, “God never speaks to us in dramatic ways, but in ways that are easy to misunderstand.” I think many times we think about things too much. My family went to the Water Park of America over the Martin Luther King Day holiday. While there are many water attractions there, it was the “FlowRider” which was the most fascinating to me. The FlowRider simulates riding a surf board on an ocean wave. “The FlowRider cycles through 24,000 gallons of water per minute, its sheet of water moves between 25 to 30 miles per hour.” I enjoyed watch people, mostly young kids, teen boys and men try and tackle this ride. It was a difficult thing to master, many who tried it would get drawn to one side of the other. Some fell off their surf boards. The little kids would get on there and just figure it out. The adults would ask questions. After watching for a while, I decided I would try it. I was the only one of three middle aged women, who dared tackle this ride. But I too talked the lifeguard, how does this work? What do I do? I wanted to be prepared, I wasn’t going to hop on like the little kids and try and figure it out. However, it seemed to me that the little kids who just did it had better success than the adults who had to understand it. The little kids just showed up jumped on and were open to whatever happened.

“God never speaks to us in dramatic ways, but in ways that are easy to misunderstand.” Sometimes we make the Christian life more difficult than it needs to be. We over think. We control. We want to know how it works. We want to be prepared for every situation.

This is what I think one of the things God wants: for us to be faithful, to seek and be open to the Holy Spirit, and to show up for each day for a life of faith and work expecting to see God through the Holy Spirit, because anything is possible if you show up for work.

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