This concludes our late summer trilogy: The Art of Being Thankful, The Gift of Being Present; and this morning, “the Responsibility of Being Alive.”
None of us were born into a beginning. We have been born into a work in progress. We have inherited all that came before us, and our presence in this world will make an indelible and profound difference upon the history of creation. We were hurled from the mystery of conception and birth to live at this time, in this place.
Every one of us along with all of creation have a responsibility to be a game changer, to leave this world better for being in it, and to become all we were intended to become before we breathe our last breath with these lungs. This is why Jesus said, “Be alert, be awake, for we never know when the last breath will come and so each day is ours to dream forth a better world, to receive and work in the power of faith, that ability to see what is not yet visible. Each of us, simply by being born, now bear the responsibility for being alive.
Being here now, being alive, is a power. It is a gift. It is a purpose for each of us to come together and bring forth God’s vision for our world. Just like the patriarchs and matriarchs in the hall of faith that the letter to the Hebrews speak of. Each of them had been born into their time with a vision for their people, their country, and their world, to be a better world than the one they inherited. Each of them had a vision, a dream, a persistent call to be a game changer for their world.
It makes me uncomfortable when I hear people say, the world is going bad. Things are dying. Times are getting worse. It makes me uncomfortable because it kicks me in the gut and says, “Not on my watch! Of course most of the time when people have given themselves to complaint, it is not because the world is going bad, but their world is changing. And most of the time when we complain, we have exchanged the responsibility of being alive, with the false license to complain.
It is easy to feel trapped and powerless when we fail to live by faith. Faith is the divine gift to see and then bring forth the world that was imagined from the beginning. If the whole world is simply what we hear. What we see. What we experience. What we know, then our world has grown small and stuck. But we all know that the world is much bigger than that! The world belongs to God. It belongs to love. It belongs to creativity and hope, faith and grace, and resurrection.
And regardless of how now is transpiring, we invoke faith to be convinced of what are eyes cannot yet see, our hands cannot quite reach, our ears cannot yet hear. We invoke the power of faith to see a time that is not filled with division and violence. We invoke the power of faith to imagine a country filled with compassion, civility, respect, and justice. We invoke the power of faith to stir up our hearts and minds that have grown numb with headlines and rants, and we embrace the responsibility of being alive.
And then….we get busy — living our lives for the sake of a better world, a better city, a better country… No one earns or arrives to the place where we get to kick back and enjoy all the benefits that fortune, privilege, or favor has accumulated in our accounts. We bear the responsibility of being alive, being engaged, being willing to yield our lives for the sake of better…and this response-ability is ours until the day we breathe our last breath. So, Be alert! For we never know when that last breath may come.
I was having a conversation with a devoted parishioner just last week. He was sharing how the parish was feeling in a bit of a funk. I told him I felt it too. We are in a place together. A place where a shared history has brought us. I also told him that I could see a better time, a deeper place, a more joyful chapter looming before us. All we had to do was “be x 3” Be thankful, be present, and be responsible. If we together practice art of being thankful, and exchange the gift of being present, and accept the responsibility of being alive. With God’s grace and blessing we will experience the vibrancy of resurrected community together.
Paul’s letters to the churches are filled with admonitions and reminders of who they are to be for the sake of their own community and for the sake of the world in which they were planted. So consider this summer’s end trilogy, Padre’s 3 little “To Be” message as we prepare to walk again, a year of the lord. We are the church in this time and this place and we are called make this world, this parish, this city, a better place. A stronger and deeper place. A more loving and engaged place… remember to be… To be thankful. To be present. And to be responsible. So I close with this, what will we choose “To be, or not to be.” Now that is the question. Amen.