August 7, 2022——9th Sunday after Pentecost——-Rev. Patrick Mecham
Hebrews 11: 1-3. 8-16; Luke 12: 32-40
Do you have a hero? In your personal life, is there someone who has lived their life in a way that demonstrates courage, selflessness, and a willingness to go the extra mile? I will tell you about one of my heroes.
Her name is Lois Roach, and she died several years ago. I didn’t meet her until she was already up in age, but it didn’t take long to see that she was extraordinary! Lois had suffered from polio in her youth, and had managed to overcome it. But, later in life, she was stricken with what is known as “postpolio,” a sort of echo of the disease. After retiring from a long teaching career, Lois began to suffer from renewed attacks on her muscles and joints. When I met her, she was using a walker to come to Bible Study. She could still drive her car and get around, but it took forever to do even the simplest of tasks.
Eventually, she had to start using an electric scooter—she was still mobile! One remarkable thing about Lois was that she had made a personal commitment to doing or learning something new every day. So, she signed up for classes and she read and she asked questions and she remained so very curious. Lois always seemed to be more interested in others than she was in herself. She prayed for everyone in her Assisted Living Home (and there were about 50 residents and staff), and she went out of her way to make newcomers feel at home.
Lois Roach is a hero for me, because she could have been bitter about her disease, could have pulled her focus in on herself and kept everyone else at arm’s length—but she didn’t. She didn’t. Another reason I admire her is that, as her body deteriorated, her spirit grew. Very few people felt sorry for Lois, because she was so very vivacious—full of the vitality of LIFE! For me, she is in the same category with our Dottie Moss—a woman who is living her life as fully as possible despite her physical challenges.
I hope you have a HERO in your life!
Our scriptures for today are about Heroes of the Faith, and about the attitude our heroes have when it comes to life on this side of the grave. (And remember: an attitude is a mindset that one chooses to adopt.) Let’s take a look at these texts, and see how they might inspire our chosen mindsets!
The Conviction of Things Not Seen (Hebrews 11)
We’ll start with our passage from Hebrews. We don’t know who wrote it, but the author was clearly a Christian who was well-educated in Greek rhetoric as well as in Judaism. You might think of the author as a person who had one foot in Judaism and the other in Christianity, trying to help Jewish sisters and brothers understand that Jesus is the Messiah.
The writer explains that faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. Then we hear about our spiritual ancestors, starting with Abraham. Through faith, he set out for a place unseen and unknown, trusting in God’s provision. In faith, Abraham was given the power of procreation (even at his advanced age!) Sarah was also given the power of procreation at an advanced age—even though she laughed when she was first told she was going to have a son!
The writer says that all our faithful ancestors died in faith without having received the promises. However, they did see and greet them from a distance. (Isn’t that a wonderful thought?! They didn’t receive the promises, but they could see that they were coming!) Our ancestors knew that “they were foreigners on earth”—people who were desiring a better country, a heavenly country.
You see, the Heroes of the Faith had the capacity to believe God without “proof”. Think about it. If you have proof, then it’s not faith, it’s simply knowledge.
FAITH means trusting God beyond what makes sense.
Citizens of Heaven (Luke 12)
Let’s think for a minute about what it means to be a citizen of heaven. We live here, now, but our true citizenship is in Heaven! For example: when we celebrate a baptism, it’s a welcome into the Family of God. It’s not some kind of magic; it’s not an automatic “ticket to heaven.” Baptism is a celebration of what God has done to save us, and an acknowledgement of our new citizenship.
As Christians, we are living on earth (which is our mission field), and we are on a Mission of LOVE. We share God’s promises with others so that they might also have a second birth. Jesus says, in today’s text, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” You notice there’s nothing said about earning the kingdom, which is what the Pharisees were so desperate to do. No, our citizenship is in heaven, and Jesus is encouraging us to count that treasure as more valuable than anything here (where thieves steal and where moths and rust destroy).
Our Gospel passage finishes with this advice: “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” Be ready. He said, “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit.” This is not about clothing and lighting—it’s about preparedness and responsiveness to what God is doing. [You know, I can be so absorbed in MY agenda, my plans, that I fail to respond to God’s direction when it comes!] Jesus is encouraging an attitude of readiness, which is actually more crucial than any person’s giftedness or ability. God chooses to equip those who are standing at the ready saying, “Put me in, Coach!” or “Here I am, Lord!”
I’ll finish today by reminding you that Heroes of the Faith are just ordinary people (not superheroes), ordinary people who choose to follow God’s way—people who allow God the opportunity to show himself to be trustworthy.
God is looking for folks (like you and like me) who are ready to have courage, to act selflessly, to go the extra mile. Folks who follow Peter’s advice to “always be ready to make a reply to anyone who asks you to explain the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15)
Maybe you’ve never thought of yourself as being “hero material”? Well, God chooses the foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chooses the weak to shame the strong; and God chooses you and me to be part of the wonderful thing that God is doing in our world.
Prayer: God, we offer ourselves to you. We say, “Put me in, Coach!” Use us in whatever way is best. And thank you for the Heroes of the Faith that have inspired us so. In the name of Christ, amen.