Remember and Renew

Remember and Renew

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
   Has it not been told you from the beginning?
   Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
   and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain
   and spreads them like a tent to live in,
who brings princes to naught
   and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.

Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
   scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows upon them, and they wither,
   and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

To whom, then, will you compare me,
   or who is my equal? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
   Who created these?
He who brings out their host and numbers them,
   calling them all by name;
because he is great in strength,
   mighty in power,
   not one is missing.

Why do you say, O Jacob,
   and assert, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
   and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
   the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
   his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint
   and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
   and the young will fall exhausted,
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
   they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
   they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:21-31 (NRSVUE)

Friends, I wonder, do any of you feel tired? Now you may be physically tired if you didn’t sleep well last night or just be tired of the world around you, tired of arguments and false promises, tired of gossip and people treating other people poorly, tired of turning on the TV and hearing about politics or war, mass casualties, or injustice and hate, tired of feeling sad at the loss of a loved one when no one else seems to understand?

Well, today, we heard from the prophet Isaiah. He was talking to the people of Israel because they were tired, too. After all, for years, they were dominated by Syria, but now the Babylonians have taken over, and they find themselves exiled again. They have no home. Their temple is destroyed, and they feel exhausted, lost, and alone. The Israelites are tired of waiting for God’s deliverance, and they are starting to lose hope.

Parents and grandparents still cling to the old historic promises of God, but their children can’t conceive the power and strength of God because they have never experienced it. The younger generation, only knowing life in exile, finds that other gods and ways of living are more attractive and exciting than this old God of Moses, Abraham, and Jacob. Can you blame them?

But the prophet Isaiah keeps reminding them, “I know that life is hard. But God gives strength to those who are weary. And those who trust in God will spread their wings and fly like eagles.”

I know that things are not going the way you planned them, “But God gives strength to those who are weary. And those who trust in God will spread their wings and fly like eagles.”

I know that you are tired and frustrated, “But God gives strength to those who are weary. And those who trust in God will spread their wings and fly like eagles.”

I know that you are grieving and sad, “But God gives strength to those who are weary. And those who trust in God will spread their wings and fly like eagles.”

I know that some days it seems as though there is no way out, “But believe me! God gives strength to those who are weary. And those who trust in God will spread their wings and fly like eagles.”

Friends, sometimes we get so caught up in the negativity of the world, and rather than trusting in God and spreading our wings and flying like eagles, we cling to our hurts, loss, pain, grief, frustration, and tiredness–not because it’s good for us, but because it’s easy and comfortable. We lose hope, and we forget about the power and strength of God. We forget about the goodness in the world and the beauty of God’s Creation all around us. And little by little, day by day, we lose sight of the light of Christ and the love of God in our lives.

Friends, I wonder. When was the last time that you stepped outside at night and just looked up at the stars? Or sat and looked out at the vastness of the ocean? Or the beauty of a sunrise? The picture on our bulletin cover today is a picture that I took at Second Beach, which is the beach that is close to my house. I’ll never forget my husband and I were walking the beach that night, and a woman stopped us and said, “This is amazing! The colors in the sky are so beautiful. I’ve lived in Middletown for years and have never seen anything like this. How often does something like this happen?” My husband and I looked at each other, “Every night at sunset,” we replied.

Friends, there are reminders of God’s strength and power and signs of God’s beauty and hope all around us every single day. However, we are often blinded to them because we choose to allow other things to fill our minds and take our attention. We let hate and hurt, grief and frustration, tiredness and pain fill our days rather than remembering the unconditional love of God and the strength and power that God shares with us.

Friends, the truth is, it’s our choice every single day! We can suffer and be filled with pain and grief, walking with our heads down and our hearts heavy, concentrating on what we have lost, what we don’t have, and what the world would tell us we need. Or we can remember and be renewed. Lifting our eyes to see the stars, the sunrise, the smiles of others, and the beauty all around us, recognizing that we don’t need to wait and hope and pray for someday because we are already surrounded by the light and love of God. And if we choose to, we take the time to remember that we can renew our strength each and every day, soaring like eagles!

Folks, the Bible is filled with stories of human beings who are tired, frustrated, and afraid, and every time, scripture tells them to remember. Remember that you are a child of God. Remember the strength that you have within. Remember those who have walked the journey before you. Remember that God loves you just the way you are!

Folks, in just a few moments, when we gather around the Table, we are going to break bread and share the cup, and we are going to hear the words of Jesus say, “Do this in remembrance of me.” What a sacred moment! But often, when we hear those words, we remember the story of Jesus sitting around the table with his disciples at the Last Supper. And sure, that is an amazing story, and a story that is so important to our faith, but if when we hear the words “do this in remembrance of me,” all we think about is the Last Supper, we focus on the wrong thing, and we miss the point. Because Jesus did not simply want us to remember the story of the Last Supper. No! Jesus said, “When you break bread and share the cup, do this in remembrance of ME.” Remember the example I set for you. Remember the things I taught you. Remember the way I loved, inspired, and encouraged you. And remember the things that I sent you out into the world to do!

Friends, when Isaiah talks about remembering the strength and power of God in today’s scripture reading. And when Jesus talks about Remembering him in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup, the remembering that they were both talking about was just the first step. They never said, “Remember and remain here.” No! They didn’t say, “Stay in the past in your memories because it’s safe here.” No! They wanted the act of remembering to bring about renewal, new life, and inspiration.

Friends, the true gift of remembering is that our memories give us the strength to move forward. Every single day is fresh and new, filled with gifts and graces to share. So why do we constantly replay the tapes of yesterday over and over again in our minds, thinking that everything is supposed to stay the same? We can’t go back and change the past, but we can allow our memories and our past experiences to pave the way for new beginnings and exciting adventures.

Friends, I know that we all tend to cherish days gone by. Here in the church, we long for the days when our pews were full every Sunday, or the days when our kids were young and we had more energy, or the time before our hearts were broken by the loss of a loved one. But folks, it’s time for us to let our life experiences and the lives of those who have journeyed with us in this lifetime, even if only for a little while, guide us to new ways of living. It’s time for us to stop living in fear. It’s time for us to put our sadness and grief behind us. It’s time for us to remember the blessings that surround us and to carry the light, the lessons, and the experiences of our past out into the world as we put our faith and trust not in earthly things but in God who created us, and the world around us. For it is then and only then that we will rise up. It is then and only then that we will renew our strength. And it is then and only then that we will soar on the wings of eagles!

So, brothers and sisters in Christ, are you ready? Are you ready to let go of your tiredness and your frustration? Are you ready to let go of your pain and grief and hurt? Are you ready to open your eyes and see the beauty of the world around you? Are you ready to truly remember who and whose you are and to be lifted up on the wing of eagles? My friends, the choice is yours. No one can decide for you. But it’s my hope and prayer that you’ll remember to put your faith and trust in God. Because God gives strength to those who are weary. And those who trust in God will spread their wings and fly like eagles!

My friends, may it be so. Thanks be to God, Amen!


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