Rock Bottom Isaiah 5:1-7; 11:1-5
Have you ever hit rock bottom? What did that feel like? A friend of mine, Jenny, told me about the time that she hit rock bottom with her drinking. She woke up after drinking all night heavily with a terrible headache, her work calling her wondering where she was, her daughter crying in the other room, and this feeling of dread. It was too much for Jenny. She picked up the beer can on the night stand but it was empty, so Jenny got out of bed and walked past her daughter's room down to the kitchen. In the fridge there was only one beer left, because she had finished off the rets of them the night before. She grabbed it in one hand, and then heard the voice of her mom telling her she was better than this. Automattically the beer came out of the fridge, and she opened it. With the beer at her lips, the cries of Jenny's daughter finally registered. "What am I doing," she thought to herself. "What am I teaching my daughter, that beer is more important than she is." Jenny started to cry as she threw the beer into the sink. She slowly sank to the floor in her kitchen and cried on the floor. "I knew at this point, something had to change because this was not working." she told me.
In our lesson for this week, God tells God's people that this isn't working. They are going to hit rock bottom because of their destructive behavior. The people of Israel are going to experience this rock bottom when they are conquered by the Babylonians and exiled to a foreign country. It is going to be a long hard road for them. However, this isn't the end of their journey but is instead a beginning. Chapter 11 reminds them that there is still hope and that God will not abandon them. God tells them about a Messiah who will come and teach them what it means to love and serve God.
These texts today are a microcosm of Resurrection Theology. That is a fancy way of saying that these texts tell us about how resurrection works in our lives. Once we hit rock bottom and begin to move away from the way we always do things, we begin to experience our new normal. When we listen to God, we begin to live our lives anew. Things are not going to be easy but they are going to be better. Jenny tells me that every time I see her. 20 years she has been sober, it wasn't easy. She had to change and a lot of that change was hard and painfully but Jenny is happier for the change. When we listen to God and begin to walk with God our lives change and we begin to live the lives that God wants us so desperately to live. What do you need God's help this week? What do you need to let go and let God?
Who is a Saint
This past Sunday was All Saint's Sunday, a time to remember all the Saints in our lives. How often do we use that word Saint? Not very much unless we are talking about the NFL team. Why do you think we don't use this word very often in our common lexicon? I wonder if it is hard to think of ourselves as Saints let alone other people. So what is a saint? Is it people just like Mother Teresa? People who have so much faith that can move mountians; a purifty and holiness that makes their clothes almost glean like a supernova; or maybe somebody who never thinks about their own life but always about others. I think we do a good job of making Sainthood very hard to attain and even to think about. Saint though, is the nickname God gave each of us when we were baptised. It means beloved. It means real people, warts and all. Being a Saint is not a measuring stick to see whether we are worthy to be God's child but instead it is a term of endearment. We are Saints. We are God's Children.
Have you every though you were a Saint, yes you? How do you feel about that? Sounds pretty scary doesn't it? What about all those expectations? Except their is not. God wants us to live together loving God and loving each other. If we live our lives this way we are indeed acting out our Sainthood because following God is not an easy path. We have to listen to others; we are not suppose to react but interact; and we are suppose to love and not hate. All these things are tough because we live in a broken world. However, when we get it wrong, God picks us up and dusts us off again.
So think about those poeple in your life who are your Saints. Is it a grandmother, a friends, a classmate, or a coworker? What about them reminded you of God and God's grace? Now the harder question, how can you do that in the larger world around you. Remember changing the world starts with one person at a time and the easiest person to change is yourself. What can you do to show other's God grace and how can you be a Saint to somebody else?
Pastor Paul. I hope you find these reflections insightful and help you in your faith journey!