Sermon For Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ephesians 3:16-21

“Grounded In Love; Empowered Through Prayer”

This summer’s sermons will explore evangelism through the lens of basic Christian theology.  Today: Empowerment

Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) ~ Cleveland, Ohio

Rev. Allen V. Harris, Pastor & Preacher

To hear a podcast of this sermon, click HERE:  120729SermonPodcast

To watch a video cast of this sermon, click HERE: http://youtu.be/3LZykvgHF_0

Ode To A Different Kind Of Power

There is power… and there is power… and then there is power!

Our world is acquainted with all kinds of power:

Power to build, power to destroy, power to create, power to kill, power to just simply maintain what is, power to…

And for far too many of the earth’s residents, time past, time present, and time to come,

The thirst for power has been an abuse of power; the search for power has been for ill will and personal gain.

Such power demands, requires, justifies the amassing of more power by those who seek to restore balance, and justice, and hope.

Many think of power as an object, a treasure, or a substance

Something that can be given, and taken; discovered, and lost; passed down, and received,

Like a precious jewel bequeathed through family legacy, a building fashioned with brick, stone, mortar, wood, and pipes; or a vein of a mineral coursing deep in the ground for whose rights are bought and sold and wagered

There are those kinds of power, I suppose.

But that is not the kind of power of which I sing the praises today.

I tell you today not of the power of kings and queens, prime ministers and presidents, CEO’s, titans of industry, university presidents and deans, warlords, dictators, caesars, pharaohs, tyrants, nor even the matriarchs and patriarchs of our families, tribes, and lands.  I intone the virtues of a power that does not trickle down, but one that is already within each of the earth’s creatures, a power present from the dawn of creation’s first dewfall and is as ubiquitous as our very own breath.

I sing of the power of God.

The power of God infuses ever being, for it is present long before the flower blooms, the diamond forms, the bridge is built, the valley is carved, the steel is forged, or the baby is born.

The power of God is stronger than the earth quaking, the winds blowing, the seas crashing, the mill grinding, the atom splitting… for it is a power that not only precedes all these, but is all these.

The power of God shows its strength in ways too difficult for humankind to fathom, too wondrous for us to discern, for the greatest power of God is shown in the simplest of circumstances: on a forest floor a mighty tree broken down by moss and bacteria and tiny ant; on a snake an old skin molted for a new one; on a mountain a mighty river is begun by a dripping ice melt; in the city streets the ebb and flow of throngs of vehicles and pedestrians; in a human heart an ancient grievance forgiven.  This is the power of God!

It is this power, this power that precedes all others, this power that is intrinsic to all things, this power that is as evident in things gentle as well as things mighty that is the power of which Jesus spoke, it is the power in which Jesus relied, it is the power that Jesus promised would be our comforter, our guide, our advocate, our companion.  The Holy Spirit is the power of God.  The Holy Spirit is the power of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit is our power, also, if we but choose to recognize it, acknowledge it, use it.

But to recognize, acknowledge, and use the power of the Holy Spirit, we must give up many things:

– We must let go of the need to use this power for our own whim and will

– We must let go of the images of power created for us by history and culture

– We must let go of the myth that this power can be handed off like a football or bought like a license or taken like a number at a lunch counter

– We must let go of the notion that this power is a fortune to be made, a nation to be founded, a fame to be fashioned, a war to be fought, or a skill to be learned.

To recognize, acknowledge, and use the power of the Holy Spirit, we must give up many things:

– We must let go of our fears that we are not worthy of this power,

– We must let go of our doubts that we are not wise enough to use this power,

– We must let go of our anger at how other forms of power have been used against us

– We must let go of our hunger and thirst and craving for power

And most importantly, we must let go of the belief that we do not yet have this power… it was given to us all long before our birth and is the very essence of who we are as children of God.

This power will be unlike anything else we know.  It will be grounded within us not in our beliefs, our commitments, our loyalties, our abilities, but only in our love.

Did you hear that?  The power of God known to us as the Holy Spirit will be grounded and made manifest in our love!  The love of God will enable us to send our roots deep, to expand our trunk to the sky, to spread our branches wide!

And like so much that is God, this love will be both fully and completely coherent and logical, and fully and completely incomprehensible.  It will be both second nature to us, and mystery beyond all knowing.  Thus, this love will remind us of God, for God is made known to us in the law inscribed on the tablet, the lily blooming in the field and the neighbor in need next door and God is beyond all our human understanding like the manna in the wilderness, the lament in exile, the promise to a young maiden, and a crucifixion on a hillside.

But, given some faith, we will come to trust in this kind of power, a power that seems as foreign to our human nature as a stranger on our doorstep, and yet as familiar as a warm and warn family quilt.  And as we begin to trust in that power, we will be filled and will overflow with the love of God.  Help us, O God, to let go of the things that hold us back, to look deep within for that which you created us to be, and to employ your Holy Spirit power for the transformation of our world and ourselves.  And until that day comes, and on that day, let us sing the hymn the ancient poet serenaded to a people very much like us:

I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, God may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through God’s Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.  

 

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  

 

Now to the one who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to that one be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

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