In pm's words
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February 25, 2016, 9:00 AM

Open My Hands, Lord


Sermon from February 24, 2016

Mid-Week Lenten Series: "Open My Life, Lord"

Grace and peace to y’all this evening as we gather together for our second Lenten Wednesday worship service. Throughout the season of Lent this year, we are calling out to God that our Live’s might be opened.

Last week, our service focused on the Lord opening our eyes. Opening our eyes to the needs of those around us. Actually seeing those in need. Recognizing and acknowledging that there is great need around us. Not only around us – but, that there is need within us as well.

This evening, our theme continues as we call on to God with the words of, “Open my hands, Lord!”

Open my hands.

One of my favorite things about tradition of the church that we belong to – the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – and as Lutherans as a whole – is that we focus a lot of our ministry in physically helping others. In fact, the ELCA’s motto is “God’s work, Our hands.”

I’ve always loved that motto and tagline for the church because I think it is something that we usually try not to play up in ourselves that often. For whatever reason, we don’t like to think that God works through us in order to enact change, participate in ministry, and spread the Gospel. It could be that many of us don’t feel ‘worthy’ in specific ways (or any way) in order to be used by God. It could be that we don’t feel like we actually ‘do’ anything in order for God’s work to be done – or not enough, or not in the right areas.

And yet, still – that motto stands. God’s work. Our hands.

And then we read our first text this evening and we hear a line that might be incredibly familiar to us. Of course, when I’ve heard it; it is almost always taken out of context and trumped up as a means to not open our hands. “There will never cease to be some in need on the earth.”

That’s usually the line we hear isn’t it? It’s usually the verse people lift up to say, “Well – there will always be poor, so how can we help – what good will it do? Even God said the poor will always be here.”

When taken out of context, this verse – words spoken by Moses mind you – it seems like it is an ‘exasperation’ of sorts. A large sigh, talking about how the poor will always be here, and then moving on to something else. That’s the sort of idea we hear – or at least the one I’ve heard when I see this verse propped and trumped up on the internet.

And yet, when you read this text in context we see that there is indeed more to the story. That we are called to open our hands to help those in need. To help our neighbors around us – all of them. And within that opening of our hands to help those in need, we are called to do so with glad and generous hearts, and with no hostility among us.

Of course, those aren’t easy things to do. Sometimes it is difficult to be so freely giving of ourselves to help those in need. We don’t know what to offer, how to offer, or if we should offer help. We hear stories of why we shouldn’t offer and help those in need. What I hope and pray that we are able to do in those times is not to be paralyzed into inaction when we feel at a loss, when we are confused, or when we let the loud voices around us attempt to impede us into living into the faith and life that we profess as followers and disciples of Christ.

We are called to help those in need, because there will never cease to be some in need on the earth. In that knowledge, we are called to open our hands to help in the ways that we can and know. That we recognize that through each of us – through each of our hands – God is at work. God is at work, through our hands to bring healing and wholeness to those in need. To proclaim the gospel to a world in desperate need to hear it. To enact justice, to stand with the oppressed, to be with all of our neighbors. It is God’s work – through our hands – our open hands – that ministry is done.

As I end this time, I want to do something new. For those who are willing. I’d like you to come forward to receive a blessing upon your hands as I anoint them with oil. Know that you are blessed and that God does work through you and God is at work in you. Amen.

 

Bless and open these hands so God’s work will be done.

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