A week ago today one of the biggest tournaments in the world of golf was played at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia: The Masters, they called it; with professionals who had been at the game for decades. And yet at twenty-one years young, Jordan Spieth beat some golfers who had playing the game longer than he had been alive. "A kid," some of the more seasoned veterans would call him. A far too young child, basically, in their eyes, had not only won, but dominated one of their most treasured events.
It happens often in the world of sports. Commentators on television and radio often refer to the younger athletes, especially those still in college as "kids." Kids, who don't have to put food on the table for their families, deal with a mortgage, worry about retirement funds. They're just "kids" in comparison to the seasoned veterans of life who sit in their comfortable chairs behind a scorer's table along the sideline at sporting events. Maybe the supposedly mature adults use that word to make us feel better about ourselves: because we obviously never behaved that way, we have things much better figured out than these "kids" do, they have no idea what they're getting themselves into in this whole life business, but we got it down. However, they do keep on getting younger, don't they? Not just the professional athletes, but the cashiers at the grocery store, the doctors, and, and even, God forbid...the pastors!
And yet the second reading this morning reminds us in the eyes of God we are all children. It's an identity we don't use very often to describe ourselves: child of God, even though it's written often in the Bible and spoken frequently in our worship services. Yes, we accept we are children in comparison to God, because God has been around a whole lot longer than us, and no matter how long we last on this earth we are never going to reach the God of all times and places.
But there's more to it than our age. For starters, God has this unbelievable level of almost embarrassing love for us, the same way that parents just have a knack for showing public displays of affection at the worst possible times on their children: when they're about to go into school and all their friends are staring at them as Mom lays a big kiss on the cheek. It's just so embarrassing when that happens, when someone loves us that much and doesn't even care who else is around to see it, loves us that much that it just has to be said all the time, "I love you." This God doesn't hold back: no matter how much we mess up, no matter how much we resist it, God continues to unleash the divine love on us every day, all the time. We just cannot escape it!
Now let's be honest, there are times when we don't mind affection in the form of food being cooked, or a roof being provided over our heads, or transportation to a friend's house, or gifts at birthdays and Christmas. But at the same time we want to be able to do things ourselves. We want that independence. We want to be able to shape our own life. We want to make our own decisions. We want to create our own future: which job, which college, which friends we hang out with, what fun activities we want to join. We want to have it our way!
And yet this God, without asking our permission first, went to the cross for us: took our selfishness, our sinfulness on His back all the way to death; the most beautiful and holy public display of affection to the whole world for all times and places. And yet, for whatever childish reason, we still want to be able to shape our future all the way to eternity, as if our acts on this earth can actually determine where we end up beyond this life: but it doesn't work that way. Grace doesn't work that way. But don't worry, God has it more than taken care of.
Yes, we are children to say the least in the eyes of God. We are as much children, babies, in fact, crying at the top of our lungs in the crib, begging God to come to us; to hear our cries in the middle of the night. And even at the moment that we venture into the darkness of death, this God will come alongside us and grab us with the most tender arms of mercy and compassion and guide us along the still waters into the Kingdom where all the crying vanishes into child-like shouts of joy.
So yes, we are children of God. We are incredibly dependent on what this God did for us on the cross, out of the empty tomb, what God continues to do for us today through bread and wine, through communities of faith in blood drives and hugs for those who are grieving at a funeral, and what God is still about to do, bringing us from death to life forevermore. And so for the sacred honor to be claimed as a child of God throughout this life and beyond, we give thanks to God indeed! Amen.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Nan Dehnke, Pastor
Office: Mon - Thu: 9 a.m. - Noon