Sermon – March 28, 2004

This is Peter. He’s a piece of paper. He lived for several weeks on the floor in the church youth room. Life wasn’t too bad for Peter, then. He could just sit and talk for hours with Uncle Milk Dud’s box, and then maybe catch a passing gush of air to go and talk to the cutest little skittles wrapper you ever saw. Peter managed to survive so long by always hiding way deep underneath the couch where no one would ever find him. No, life wasn’t too bad for Peter. Except for family reunions. Peter hated family reunions. He couldn’t relate to old Jack Pin or Woody Desk no matter how hard he tried. They were so stiff and old-fashioned that all they would ever talk about was the good old days in the seventeen hundreds, or the forest fire of 1817. But, family reunions were few and far between, so Peter managed to remain pretty content most of the time.

Then one day, a young girl wandered into the youth room. She was wasting time, while her older sister was getting her stuff together from confirmation to go home. This young girl had a large piece of paper and that terrible four-letter word to Peter. You know what that is, of course…GLUE! This young girl was taking scraps of paper off the floor and pasting them to a larger piece of paper. Peter eyed her very suspiciously. Suddenly, the girl reached right down to Peter, scooped him up, and dabbed some glue on his backside, and stuck him on the larger piece of paper!

“Oh what a terrible thing to happen to such a nice little scrap like me,” thought Peter. He looked around him, and had even more reason to be very sad and indignant. To his left was a yellow piece of paper, below him was an orange piece of paper, and worst of all, right above him was a purple polka-dotted piece of paper.

Everyone knows that notebook paper scraps don’t get along with purple polka-dotted pieces of paper. Everyone but this young girl. “Oh, whoa is me,” moaned Peter. “Life is so terrible. If I had my druthers, I would still be down on that floor talking to Uncle Milk Dud’s box. If I had my way, things would be different. God, why did you do this to me? Don’t you know what is best for me?”

Peter, and the rest of that large paper that he was stuck to, hung in the fellowship hall for several years. Peter noticed that when people went by him, they would look up, stare at him for a minute, and then smile. “They’re laughing at me!” moped Peter. “They know how I’m humiliated to be stuck next to a purple polka-dotted piece of paper. What a tragic way for me to spend my life.

But then one day, a little boy who was just learning how to read looked up at Peter, pointed his little finger, and read aloud, “GOD…IS…LOVE.” You see, Peter was part of a mosaic, and the mosaic read “God is Love.” Peter was an important part of the letter G, right at the crook of it. If he wasn’t there, the mosaic would have read “Cod is Love,” which is a very ridiculous mosaic to be hanging in the fellowship hall, indeed. Peter, without even knowing it, was a very important part of God’s love story. If only he could have seen things from the total scope that the little boy saw him (and as God sees us), then he would have understood how important his role was.

In our story from Isaiah today, we hear God’s powerful words to God’s people. God’s people had been through so much already—had seen and felt God’s presence in the midst of the chaos that surrounded them. Over and over they heard God’s words telling them how God would sustain them and guide them through anything and everything, and yet they still weren’t seeing the big picture.

They didn’t realized that they were a huge part of God’s love story—that God truly loved them and wanted only the best for them. They didn’t realize how God was working—that through all that was going on, God was making things new. God was showing them a new way to live, a new way to trust, a new way to love. God was trying to show them that they were putting their trust in the wrong place. But, if they would just trust in what the Lord was doing, they would see that God’s love was a radical love—a love like no other—a love that makes the deserts moist with new water, a love that makes even the jackals and the ostriches bow down and honor God. This love is a new love—a love that changes God’s people. It’s a love that breaks barriers and changes hearts. It’s a love that creates peace and justice.

In our Gospel lesson, it wasn’t understood why Mary Magdalene would do such a thing as pour expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and wipe it with her hair. But Jesus saw this love in Mary. He knew that Mary was showing an example of a new love that goes beyond what is expected and goes against what the world tells us. This love first begins with our love and trust in God—a God who loves us so much that God would come to earth as a human being and live, serve, and die for us. This love then goes out to the whole world—those whom we know, those we don’t, those we love, and those we despise. This is the new way that God calls us to. It doesn’t just stop at loving God, but loving those whom God created. 

Just as it was for the people of Israel, it is hard for us to do. We, too, don’t always trust that God is working in our lives. We complain about our neighbor, and about how our lives are not working the way we want them to. “God, if you loved me, the boy/girl that lives next door would be madly in love with me.”

Or “God, if you truly cared for me, you would let the Vikings finally win a Super Bowl!” or “God, if you really are a God who listens and works for your people, you would help me out of this financial situation—you would cure the illness in my loved one—you would repair this broken relationship—you would make me happy—you would…you would…you would..

Just like Peter paper we don’t trust in what God is doing. Rather, we question God’s love for us and we let the circumstances of our lives consume us. It is so easy to do, isn’t it? It is so easy to get caught up in the chaos of life and to shut God out of it. However, the amazing reality of God is that no matter how much we try and shut God out, God sticks around and makes things new. God gives us grace upon grace and makes a way in the wilderness, even when we do not perceive it.

Do we deserve this? No, of course we don’t. But that is proof of how much God loves all of us. God gave God’s own life and rose again for our sake because of this love. This love is here right now for all of us—this love is reaching out to you and me, wanting to make us new—wanting to quench our dry spirits and renew us with a living love that springs eternally. You and I are a part of God’s love story—a central part that God wants. Let us bow down before God and give God our hearts, and let the new love of Christ take over. Amen.