This past Sunday, my sermon grew out of my reflections on the day’s reading from Zephaniah 3. What follows is an excerpt:
Jesus is God’s leverage to lift our cynicism and to free us from sadness. Deep in his bones, flowing in and out of his lungs, coursing through his blood, and firing across the synapses of his brain, there was a radiant truth that Jesus gave all of the energy of his life for the rest of us to experience. Jesus knew beyond knowing that, at the heart of all things, there is a singing, rejoicing, loving God. And Jesus knew that God intends to turn all creation into a vast festival, an unending party, of pure joy.
Nothing else matters more than letting this truth glow in your heart, brighten your spirit and shine in your mind. I mean nothing else: not piling up a bunch of money, or moving into the house of your dreams, or getting a wall of diplomas, or stacking a display case chockfull of trophies and plaques and awards, or cramming scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings about good things you have done. Nothing wrong with money if you use it well, or with a nice house if you make it a home where love dwells, or with recognitions if you spend the influence they bring making a difference in the world. These things matter some, but they don’t matter nearly as much as knowing what Jesus knew about God.
Nothing else matters more: not getting all As, making mother happy and father proud, and being voted most likely to succeed. Not being a state record-holder or a scratch golfer or the club tennis champion. Not meeting all your family’s expectations, satisfying all of the demands of your work, or saying “Yes” to every legitimate-sounding request a friend makes. Not being admired, respected, and honored by all the right people, whoever they are. There are plenty of people who have glittering academic and professional credentials; who turned-out just the way their parents insisted; who are fine athletes, even well past high school and college; who are the people everyone turns to when something hard or important needs to be done; and who have the esteem and recognition of their company, community and church. But, inside, they are aching, yearning and sad. Whether they, we, are aware of it or not, they are aching and yearning for the that truth Jesus knew. So let me repeat it: at the heart of all things, there is a singing, rejoicing, loving God, who intends to turn all creation into a vast festival, an unending party, of pure joy. Don’t miss this truth: God loves you, sings over you, delights in you, and wants joy for you.