It was Palm Sunday but because of a sore throat, 5 year old Craig stayed home from church with a babysitter. When the family returned home, they were carrying several palm fronds.
Craig inquired as to what they were for. 'People held them over Jesus' head as he walked by,' his father responded. 'Wouldn't you just know it?' Craig complained, 'the one Sunday I don't go and he shows up.'
Every day we are confronted with a wide variety of choices. Some have to deal with money, some about the plans for the evening and some choices that will have a large impact on your future path.
There are numerous factors that go into each and every decision we make on a daily basis. And there are times where we go through a lengthy checklist based on the decisions we need to make. How will this make someone feel? How do I feel about it? Are there any other options? And of course does this shirt make me look fat? In fact, the 4 questions I just mentioned do a good job of capturing all possible genres of choices one would have to make.
Unfortunately, many of the choices and decisions we are asked to make, or rather we decide we need are not necessarily the most important decisions we need to make. Often times our decisions revolve around money and how we spend our time. Now, that is not to say that everyone has a choice in this matter. There are those who are less fortunate and do not have the luxury of being able to divert their attention to numerous tasks and having a cushion per se.
What I mean to say is that there are times in many lives, and even in mine where the main focus of our decisions revolves around its cost and the intrinsic benefit it gives us. Perhaps it is buying a new TV, upgrading a car, or getting that new I-phone. Why are we focused on material objects? Why have physical and purely pleasure based objects become a focal point in our lives? I myself often fall victim to this whether it a new video game or Nike shorts or what have you. The fact of the matter is, it has potentially become an issue in North America.
Sometimes our society is interpreted as being invested too much in what we own. And with the possible infatuation with material objects we can look back onto the decisions we make and how we focus our energies…
Maybe, if we are working overtime to get a brand new boat, or filling out spare time with goals that are oriented towards achieving maximum pleasure. Now I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t treat ourselves and buy things and life the life of John the Baptist. That is far from what I intend on saying.
But rather, I wished to set this up in order to highlight the choices and decisions we do not hesitate making from day to day. It is the holding the door open for another or maybe giving a coffee to an individual who is less fortunate. These genre of decisions are what defines us as Christians and the ones we need increase their frequency.
Because in reality, how often do we think about these small acts of kindness? We don’t. It is second nature to us. It is just what we do. What I mean to suggest is that we expand on these. And perhaps instead of focusing on having the top of the line TV or simply living life to enjoy every possible pleasure with no regard for the world around, then in my opinion that needs to change.
Let us now look at the Bible passages we heard today. In my opinion the scripture lesson today was that we need to re-examine and then refocus our energies and from that discovering the courage to follow a new path or take the road less traveled.
In the reading from Amos we hear how God has grown tired of those who “trample the needy” among other negative actions and how these will lead to man wandering from sea to sea in search of water and life. This text has an apocalyptic feel to it, but I believe that is because the focus of the people during that period in time was focused solely on material goods and profiting of your fellow man whether it was from slavery, minimal wages or even luxury taxes that could rival the ones my dad institutes when we play Monopoly. Sometimes it is possible that we too get sidetracked by all the bells, whistles and privileges that come from living in Canada.
The second reading from Colossians offers a more optimistic and enlightening message from the fire and brimstone from the Book of Amos. In verse 20 the author reiterates that Jesus died for our sins and now we are free from accusation. Furthermore, from verses 27-30 we read that the mystery of the world has been given to us, God’s chosen people, which is the hope of glory. That is of course the glory of God that comes from steadfast faith and love towards God and Jesus Christ. And it is His name that we proclaim and present ourselves as being fully mature in Christ. And being fully mature in Christ means following his teachings and loving others as he loved us.
Furthermore, in Paul’s letter to the Colossians he mentions that he has given both his body and soul in service of the Church. He chose to be a travelling Christian and spread the Word. Surely, this was not easy but he chose to do that and literally put his life on the line.
Now, I would like to share a personal story. I am still pretty young at 22 years old so my life experience may be a bit lacking but I believe that I have experienced several instances where a re-examining of priorities and starting on a new path was necessary.
A few years ago I was sure I was going to be a history teacher. It had been a childhood dream of mine to one day teach children. But one day I had an amazing experience in church that convinced me to scratch this new itch I had. And so I began to become more involved in the church. Even as my friends grew up and no one really my age remained in the church I stayed true and kept pursing this feeling I had.
Then one day I realized that maybe, this was God calling out to me. And so I decided to test this out by performing a few sermons and go through the discernment process. And through this I realized that ordained ministry is what I need to do, and what I should do. In the perceived face of adversity and being a little different from my friends I made the decision to become even closer to the church and to God. To me, this is and was a big deal. It was certainly something I thought about for countless nights.
And from this decision I realized that some things that I used to do such as drinking, partying and playing extensive amounts of video games would have decrease. Now I’m not saying that I abolished all these activities because it is nice sometimes to relax but, at the time I made this decision I was in college and that was unheard of among my friends. Giving up a Budweiser for a shot of Welches? Absolutely bonkers.
Now, I still do have shortcomings. No one is perfect. We should still enjoy ourselves and should still enjoy the pleasures and gifts that we are able to have. It is just there are times when I believe that there people, myself being one of them can look inward and reflect to truly see if all our energies and focuses are on the correct things.
Try and find that itch, and see if it can be satisfied. Whether it is spending some more time with your kids, volunteering at church, picking up at a park or maybe paying for a coffee for someone behind you in line there are countless things we can do to make this world a better place. My dad always said the choices we make dictate the consequences. And that is true. Let us all make a conscious choice to be Christians 24/7, to spread the word of God and truly live and love as Jesus did.
The world is a phenomenal place. Brothers and sisters, let us make the decision here today to be a part of its present and future as not only family, but as Christians.
As J.K Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series once said “It is our choices... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”