Saturday, October 7, 2017

Year A, Proper 22, Isaiah 5.1-7, I’m tired, Boss.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.  Amen
“The Green Mile” is a movie about death row, and in particular, about one John Coffey, a black man who was a miracle worker, who could save lives, but who was wrongly charged and convicted of murder.
In the end, as he accepts his fate to be executed, he makes the following statement to the sympathetic guard he’s come to know who offered to help him escape:
“I want it to be over and done with. I do.
I'm tired, boss. Tired of being on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. I'm tired of never having me a buddy to be with... to tell me where we's going to, coming from, or why.
Mostly, I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world... every day. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head... all the time. Can you understand?”
Sometimes I feel like John Coffey.
I’m tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world.
Just tired.
Sometimes the only thing I can do is turn off the news.
Not read the paper.
Just live each day, eating, working, sleeping, all the while trying to ignore what is going on in the world.
The struggle is it happens whether I pay attention or not.  It happens.
Life is hard enough to deal with as it is.
There is a certain amount of suffering that cannot be avoided.  There are natural disasters like hurricanes that will happen.  This has been a horrible year for that.
In other parts of the world there are different risks.
Forest fires.
When you think about it there are risks and suffering that go with living just about anywhere.
And then there is the whole matter of disease.
Little children fighting for life.
People struck down in the prime of life.
And elderly people, battling long term chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease that robs them of every last ounce of dignity that they had.
All this is unavoidable.
It will happen.
There is no choice about it.

What is so difficult to deal with is the suffering we inflict on each other.
“I’m tired of people being ugly to each other.”  Coffey says.  Just tired of people being ugly to each other.
Gun shots rain down from on high on the crowds in Las Vegas as a lone man, for no apparent reason, takes fifteen minutes to terrorize the world.
Dozens of people killed.
Hundreds wounded.
One event like that is hard enough to deal with.
But they just keep on happening.  One after another.  Senseless violence that deprives the innocent of life itself.  School children.  Church people.  People enjoying an evening of entertainment.
We’ve become numb to the pain and suffering.
11,000 people die each year by gunfire in our country.
‘Mostly, I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world... every day.”
There is another statistic that disheartens me.
In 2013, 664,435 legal induced abortions were reported to Center for Disease Control from 49 reporting areas. The abortion rate for 2013 was 12.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 200 abortions per 1,000 live births. 
1 in six babies conceived, is aborted.
I find that hard to believe.  But those are the statistics gathered not by anti-abortion activists, but by the Center for Disease Control of our government.
The most likely cause of death for each and every human being conceived in this country is not gun violence, or disease, but abortion.  Let that sink in for a moment.

One of the things that distresses me about our country is this:
We recognize, as constitutional rights, both the right to bear arms and the right to have an abortion.
That shooter in Los Vegas had a ‘right’ to purchase as many guns as he wanted to equip himself to carry out the mass murder he committed.
And we recognize as a right a woman’s ability to choose an abortion.
What we do not recognize as a right is the safety of people from gun violence.
What we do not recognize as a right is access to health care.
To put it bluntly, we are more committed as a nation to preserve the right to kill, than we are to preserve the right to live.
 “Mostly, I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world... every day.”
I wonder how often God has thought that.
“Let me sing for my beloved
my love-song concerning his vineyard:
he expected it to yield grapes,
but it yielded wild grapes.”
“For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts
is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah
are his pleasant planting;
he expected justice,
but saw bloodshed;
but heard a cry!”
Israel came under the judgment of God for their sins.
The judgment was that their nation would be defeated and the people would be carried into captivity.
Isaiah foretold of the judgment that was to come.
No doubt, he was not popular for doing so.
Most of the people in Israel during Isaiah’s time would have much preferred that he sing a song about God blessing Israel, not the song of the vineyard in which God judges Israel, and condemns it for their sins.
And are we any different?
We love to sing “God bless America” but when people talk about what is not right about our country we are upset.
“How dare someone say that God will judge America for its sins!”
I don’t know what the future holds.
I don’t know how much suffering our nation, and the nations of the world will endure.
Mostly I’m just tired of people being ugly with one another.
And I hope God is too.
Isaiah’s word to the people of Israel was not just a word of condemnation and judgment.
It was also a word of hope.
When God judges us, he does so for the sake of making us right.
Later on in Isaiah, the prophet writes:
6 The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den.
9 They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
Imagine that world.
Imagine a world in which every life that is conceived is welcomed as sacred, a gift from God.
Imagine a world in which no one would even consider picking up a weapon to harm another human being.
Imagine a world that devoted itself to enhancing and protecting all life as holy.
Imagine a world in which all children are loved and adored, and all elderly are respected and honored.
Imagine a world in which they do not hurt or destroy.
Imagine a world in which people are no longer ugly with one another.
Imagine a world in which each nation devotes as much effort to preserving and enhancing life as they now do on the military.
That’s the world God imagines when he says in Isaiah 2:4 “they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.”
That’s the world God wants us to enjoy.
“Mostly, I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world... every day. There's too much of it.”
I think that one of the most important questions of faith is whether or not we believe that the world can be any different than it is.
Do we believe that it is possible for people to give up killing, and devote themselves to living?
God does.


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