Growing Lower

hands-1838658_1280.jpg

Growing Lower

How do we grow and progress in the Christian life?

Welcome to the Light of Christ Weekly Podcast. Light of Christ Anglican Church is located in Georgetown, Texas at MLK and University Avenue. We are a modern expression of the ancient faith. You can learn more about us at lightofchristgeorgetown.org.

Our sermon sound bite today is based off of Christ’s teaching in Luke 14 verses, 7 through 11. “Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, when you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person.’ And then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place so that when your host comes, he may say to you, .Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For, everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

God's assessment is that we are sinners. But then, He follows that up with saying, “I love you. You are forgiven.” So He calls us to not say, “Me first!” But He calls us to say, “You first! Others first!” The Christian life, often we think of it as as growing upwards and being more and more Christlike, and that's true. But what's it mean to be more and more Christlike? I love what Saint Benedict says here. He says, “We want to come quickly to the top of that heavenly ascent to which we can only mount by lowliness.” Notice the paradox there. The way that we ascend is by doing what? Descending. Descending. The Christian growth in life is actually a growth downward. There's this paradox here, and it's only in the gospel where we can have a confident humility. Where we can accept what is true about ourselves. That that we do fail. But, at the same time know that we are loved and forgiven by God. And so we have this confidence based upon what God has done for us, yet this humility knowing that we do fail, and fail all the time.

And so, growth in the Christian walk is paradoxically a growth downward. And what of the person that truly confesses what we confess every Sunday? That we've sinned in this way? That we are not better than others? How does that person relate to others? Are they judgemental? Is there pride there? See, humility is fertile ground for love. When we see ourselves as sinners that are saved by the grace of God, by His love, then there is no place for us to say we are better than you. There's no place for us to wrangle to try to get first. There is only space then for love.

And why do we do this? Why do we do this? We do this because Jesus did it. He's our host. He didn't say “Me first.” He said, “You first. Others first.” Who had more right to sit at the best seat at the table than Jesus did? But, he ascended on high by first laying his life down. Although he had all the rights, although unlike us, he was not a sinner, what did he do? He served us all. He served us all on the cross. He took the lowest place. As he was raised up on the cross, he descended into the depth of our sin. He descended into the depth of death itself so that he could invite us into the wedding feast. Because of that, God has exalted him and placed him at the right hand of the Father.

Thank you for listening to the Light of Christ Weekly Podcast. Let us end our time together with a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. You can find this prayer, The Collect For the Second Sunday of Christmas, on page 601.

Oh God, who wonderfully created and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature, grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity. Your son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit. One God, forever and ever. Amen.