Fr. Jim Elliott
Proper 28 Year A
November 13, 2011 St. James’ Quitman
At the Elliott house, we always seem to be getting ready to do something. It seems as though we’re always preparing for the next thing, whatever that might be. And whenever we get ready to do something, it seems like we have to stop doing one thing so we can do the next thing on our agenda. If you think about it, that’s how most all of our everyday lives are.
My day this past Friday is a good case in point. It began around 6:00 a.m. with me working at my computer at home. I finished up doing what I was working on and got ready for the rest of the day. Once I finished with that, I left home to have breakfast with a friend whose mother had died. After we had breakfast and parted company, I started my work day at my law office. I worked most of the morning and then I stopped for to attend a luncheon in honor of one of our legal assistants who’s expecting her first child. After the luncheon, we loaded up all of the baby gifts and went back to the office where I worked on a number of law practice and church related matters for the rest of the afternoon.
I then wrapped up those matters and got ready for and attended a meeting outside the office. I left went to the meeting and then went home to get ready for the youngest son’s high school football game (which they won, by the way). After the game, went home and got ready for and went to bed (after watching the “Locker Room Report” and a bit of Jay Leno). And then I got up yesterday morning and started all over again!
Now, this all probably sounds pretty familiar to most of us. You might be thinking – that for me – it’s not law practice and church and high school football – but change the names to protect the innocent and that sounds pretty much like my life.
So whether we’re priests or lawyers (or both) – whether we’re students, or educators – or whether we’re employers or employees – whether we’re children or parents or grandparents – regardless of our lot or station in life, our lives are a series of stops and starts. Our lives are made up of a series of bringing one thing to a close – and then getting ready for and doing the next thing we have on our daily, weekly, monthly or yearly agenda.
Now to be clear, I’m certainly not being critical. This sort of pattern of life is simply illustrative of who most of us really are and how we live out our lives. And I expect that’s true for most of us even here and today. Unless we worked the night shift last night, we all probably got up this morning and got out of bed. We all began and finished our Sunday morning routines, whatever those might be. And we all got ready for and came here to St. James to church.
And I hope that as we are all here this morning – that as we hear the Word of God – and as we say the prayers – I hope that we are getting ready. I hope that we are preparing to receive Holy Eucharist. And I expect that each of us will leave here today and go do whatever it is that we do on a typical Sunday.
But I hope that whatever it is that you do on your typical Sunday – I hope you’ll stop doing whatever it is that you’re doing. I hope you’ll think about all of the talents that God has given you. And I’m not just talking about the great sums of money that we heard about in the parable of the talents that we heard from Matthew’s gospel lesson a moment ago. I hope you’ll consider all of the many gifts that God has bestowed upon you. I pray that you will ponder the many, many ways in which God has blessed you.
The Gospel calls each of us to stop doing what we’re doing. And the Gospel calls us to get ready for the next thing! But what is this “next thing”? What is it that we’re supposed to be getting ready for? My brothers and sisters, the “next thing” is life! The next thing is this life – here, today, now! But it’s not just this life; it’s this life and the next. The next thing is the wedding banquet. The thing for which we must prepare is the coming of the Kingdom. And we must always be ready for the Kingdom of God.
Unlike the man who came to the table at the banquet without his wedding garment. Unlike the man who believed it was enough just to show up. Unlike the bridesmaids from last week’s gospel who had no oil for their lamps. Unlike the servant who buried the great sum of money that had been entrusted to him by the master.
We must get ready and be prepared! But how do we do that? How do we get ready? How do we prepare ourselves? I think the secret is in never stopping doing what we are doing! We never stop preparing. We never stop getting ready. We never stop using the talents and the gifts and the blessings that God has so freely bestowed upon us. We never stop using God’s gifts for the building up of the Kingdom of God.
We don’t stop and go on to the next thing. We never stop being disciples. We never stop praying. We never stop loving God and our neighbor. And we don’t stop loving one another. We never stop spreading the Good News of the Gospel! We never forget that all that we are and all that we have and that all that we ever will be is a gift and a blessing from God! We never stop using our talents and our gifts and our blessings for to glorify God.
In a word, we never stop being Christians! We never stop being what God made us and calls us to be. We never stop being Christians – in word and in deed and in all that we are and in all that we do! We use our time and our talent and our treasure to show forth the light of Christ. And we never stop – because the next thing is upon us – and the next thing is the Kingdom of God – and the Kingdom of God has come near to us! AMEN!