† IHS †
May you realize the grace and peace given to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, and may your life reveal it to our broken world!
If you get in trouble, call collect!
I still remember hearing the words, as I went out the door on February 13, 1981, my gosh, 32 years ago this week. I had just gotten my license two days before, and as I left the house, to go pick up my buddy John Cartier and the two girls that were supposed to go skating with, I heard these words…
“if you get into trouble, remember – you can call us collect!”
So I hopped in my first car, a very fast Pontiac Astra – and headed out, not thinking about the words much.
As I was writing this sermon, I was thinking how odd it is this sermon illustration has run its course – the people younger than 30 will never understand it! The kids today can call on their cells, text, even drop pictures of the car with the flat tire. Or skype their parents – even if they are on the other side of the world! I mean – when was the last time you saw a pay-phone anyway?
Calling collect? Wow – that was a big thing back then! It cost so much money! It was only for emergencies, or perhaps, to call a grandparent on a birthday.
That was the big thing about it – being given the assurance that my parents would help – or at least try to help if I found myself in trouble. Even if it meant I was calling collect from whatever problem I would find myself. They would be there. Looking back – a very special promise.
If you need to be saved…
Do you? That’s the walk of Lent!
The irony of a 40 day temporary change!
Generally, there were only two reasons to call collect in the old days. Incredibly joyous news, or oh boy, were you in trouble. Cell phones and skype are used now – the incredible technology we only dream of in comic books back in the day.
But you can still call collect if you are in trouble, matter of fact at county jail that is the only way you can call someone, I hope you all never find out how very, very expensive it is.
As we look at Paul’s epistle today, there is a similar call that is encouraged. As Paul tells us, “Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved!”
It is logical- that if you call on someone to save you, that there is something serious going on, and it isn’t a good thing! Especially for us guys – because we will take something that is a minor problem – and before we call someone else for help – we have turned it into a major crisis.
That is so often with the sin in our lives, as one sin leads to another sin, and rather than confess our sin, we end up creating a major war. Even so, one sin is enough to render us broken, one crisis caused by someone else’s sin enough to render us useless.
It is part of our walk during lent, to survey the damage that sin has caused, the problems and divisions, the anger and resentment and hurt, and to realize, just as my parents did – God encourages us to call out to Him –that we may be rescued!
It’s a pretty harsh thing – to look at the brokenness caused by generations of sin, but our generations aren’t innocent either – just the sins of the past months would be a harsh devastation to face for most of us. Yet, looking at such isn’t about creating within us a level of guilt or shame, or disgrace. For as Paul reminds us,
“As the scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced!”
That is the thing about knowing we have the ability to call collect – the assurance that though we are in trouble, we won’t be turned away – that there is almost an expectation that someday, we will be in a situation where our parents, or our close friends, may need to rescue us.
If our parents were so willing to care, how much more does God – who paid the price for our “collect call”, as Christ hung on the cross.
That is what church is about; a bunch of God’s kids reminding each other that God isn’t impossible to get to! That God isn’t going to be upset at us, when we call out to him to rescue us, or to rescue someone else who we care about – to rescues those who’ve we hurt, and even those who have hurt us.
That is what is so incredible, that God knowing our lives, the temptations we would face, the struggles we would have, the sin we would commit, planned and paid for all of our collect calls.
Indeed, it is even our normal thing to call, it is something that God places in our hearts, in our lives, It is the power of the Holy Spirit, working through God’s word, as it is communicated to others, that brings us to the point where we can call. Where, tired of the burdens we bear, tired of the hurts, tired of the stress in our lives and in the lives of those we love… we are compelled to reach out to the hand that has been offered, as we realize the price has been paid for the call…already
Is it time to call?
Generously He Gives
He answers all – Judean and Greek
None are disgraced!
There have been days where I thought that this passage was only about our call to faith, that it was a passage that a pastor or preacher would use at a revival, to assure us that our prayers to be saved would be heard, and having taken care of that, we could go about our lives, joyfully, complete.
We have a Lord who gives generously scripture tells us. A Lord who we can call on as we deal with all the struggles we have in this life, as He answers all of us, no matter our ethnicity, or our age, none who call on His Name – is disgraced. For that is why we’ve been given it – to call upon in need. We can call on Him anytime, in any place, and know that He is there. Ready to show mercy, ready to clean up the mess, ready to heal our brokenness, ready to heal and help us back on the road.
The sermon is short today, with a reason. It’s time to call upon His name – to give us time to call on God’s name – to extend our prayer time out a little, to take Him at His word.
That relieved of all stress, of all burdens, of all the sin and unrighteousness we deal with, and which we think about at this time, that our hearts and voices, undisgraced, can rejoice that indeed, His message, His declaration of love, is indeed on our lips.. and in our hearts.
- A Sacrifice for Lent…a broken heart? (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Ash Wednesday (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Pope Benedict’s Full 2013 Ash Wednesday Homily (catholicglasses.com)
- An incredible Lenten Friday Sacrifice – the “safe” distance. (justifiedandsinner.com)