Sunday, February 10, 2008

To Have, To Do, To Be -- A Sermon

This Friday Liz and I saw a movie called "The Bucket List."  It's about two aging men who meet each other in the hospital and discover that each of them has maybe six months to live.

They create a "Bucket List" -- a list of things they really want to do before they kick the bucket -- and set out to achieve it.  It's a little easier because one of them is super rich and -- of course -- lonely.  The other is middle class and has a loving family but has never been off by himself before.

Now, they have the nicest things, like a private jet, a Bently, and Armani suits.  They go off and do wonderful things -- skydive, climb the pyramids, visit the Great Wall.  They get to be anyone they want, like a playboy or a mountain climber or race car driver -- but in the end, each discovers that what they need most in their lives is reconciliation with those they love or once loved.

What I liked about the movie was that it spoke to the most basic desires we human beings have.  We want to have things, we want to do things, we want to be certain things.

It's only when we get them that we realize those things aren't enough.

That's what Jesus' forty days in the wilderness were all about.  Jesus, newly anointed by the Holy Spirit to be -- well to be what? -- is driven into the wilderness to figure it out.  He has all possibilities laid out before him.  In a sense, the time he spends in the Wilderness is his Bucket List.

He's offered the opportunity to have all he needs -- and better yet, to provide to the people all the physical comforts that they need.  It would be great; no more hunger, maybe even no more coveting.  But he rejects it.

He's offered the opportunity to do wild and crazy things.  Forget skydiving, he's given the chance to dive off a building and know that he won't crash.  Talk about the sense of security.  So Jesus knows that if he wants, he can walk through any angry crowd untouched, and that he can help others be perfectly safe at all times.  But he rejects it.

He's offered the opportunity to be king of the world.  To stand up on the mountain and rule on high.  How often we've wanted to do that.  Jesus can be anything he wants, and he can help us be all that we can be, too.  But he rejects it.

Because in the end, they do not give what he knew he needed most of all -- what we need most of all, too.  Reconciliation with the ones we love.

Jesus did not come to give us things, not even food, though at times he did feed people. 

He did not come so we could do super things without fear of being hurt, though at times he brought people through dangerous situations (like deadly storms or angry mobs) without a scratch.

He did not come to let us become anything we want, though he did free people like Peter to become things they never could have imagined.

No, Jesus came for reconciliation alone.  In the end, that's what we need more than anything else in this world.  

In these forty days of Lent -- our wilderness -- we're offered opportunities to put away those temptations Jesus faced.  To have, to do, and to be so many things.  And in that time, we have the chance once again to remember what truly matters.  

So, use this time for reconciliation -- with those you love, with yourself, and with God.  Don't save it for your Bucket List.