In our Gospel reading (Lk 12:32-40), Jesus indicates to us, his “little flock”, the importance of watchfulness over our treasure of faith, and the importance of perseverance.
In terms of watchfulness, I remember once losing my son at an amusement park. Fortunately, the park was a small one and the period until I found him was short. He had simply wandered from the dodgem cars to the carousel. Any parent will know the cold clutch of fear on my heart – and the importance of watching over such a treasure as a child. You can pay a price for being distracted. I remember that Abigail Adams wife of President John Adams) blamed her absence for the loss of one of her sons. And we remember that God lost a child too.
Raising a child also takes faith, and perseverance, doesn’t it? You invest your whole self in the future of this child – so there is faith; and you don’t stop half way – so there is perseverance. So these things that Jesus mentions, faith, watchfulness, and perseverance are all three important elements of every family with children. It takes parents, teachers, and many more to raise children, of course. When children finally fly, however haltingly, it brings one of life’s great joys, does it not?
The importance of faith and perseverance is in our other readings today: In Genesis 15:1-6 we have the wonderful story of God’s promise to Abraham. The reference to the stars and the whole promise recalls the creation in Genesis 1. Psalm 33 also recalls the creation. Why the creation? The reason is that the perfect relationship between God and Adam and Eve in Genesis 1 and 2, was lost in Genesis 3. That relationship with God begins to be restored through the faith and obedience of Abraham in Genesis 15. Abraham “trusted God and God counted it to him as righteousness.” In Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16 we read that Abraham trusted God persevering, trusting way, even though he and his son, and then his grandson, all died without receiving the promised land. Yet God’s promise has been fulfilled at least in a degree, for we see billions of children of faith coming from Abraham, through the Jews, the Christians, and the Moslems.
IT HAS PLEASED GOD: God has not done this begrudgingly or apprehensively, but God is pleased to entrust us with this right and responsibility, without any prospect of withdrawing it. God is sure of our capacity to do it, equipped with the forgiveness we have in Jesus, with the power of the Holy Spirit, with the sacrament of the body of Christ. In each hour, we are to follow the person of Jesus Christ. As we grow in familiarity with Jesus Christ, our lives increasingly follow God’s constitution, and follow the contours of what God wants us to be.
So today, when we put our talents and abilities into action, we act in a spirit of trust and faith in God, and a spirit of continual watchfulness that the final curtain may come at any moment. Noel Coward said “Thousands of people have talent. I might as well congratulate you for having eyes in your head. The only thing which counts is this: Do you have staying power?”
Staying power simply, that we choose this way or the other way in this one hour of the life that God gives us.
In these days we remember Albrecht Durer the artist, Laurence the deacon and martyr in Rome, Clare of Assisi, and Florence Nightingale of nursing fame. They all expressed their faith in God, in their particular ways, and they persevered in doing so for their whole lives long.
In so doing, we will come to the point – perhaps tonight — that we will return to God the life that God entrusted to us. Furthermore, that we can return that trust and that life back to God with the same pleasure that God handed our life to us.
In each hour, do you have staying power for one hour, to reach that great moment?
(Closing prayer from John Rippon’s hymn, #637 in 1982 Hymnal vs 3:) “When through the deep waters I call you to go the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow; for I will be with thee thy troubles to bless and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress… [your] soul, though all hell shall endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake.”