9-7-14 “Looking Up, Pointing Up, Lifting Up” Psalm 121
Video of Communion Homily 9-7-14:
?Looking Up, Pointing Up, Lifting Up?
The church is not the steeple. It is not the spire on top. But the church?s job is to be a steeple- to point up. When we stop pointing up we have lost our mission to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. If we forget we are gathered for God and not for our own fulfillment, then we have lost something.
Last week Betty McEntire died of a combination of cancer and a grieving heart over her husband?s death 8 months before. Reverend Stewart rightly said that though she was in pain She would answer to how she was doing by saying, ?It’s okay. I know where I’m going. I’m happy.? She was looking up. Now I know heaven is not just ?up.? I also know the sun does not really rise. But when we think of heaven, we look up. Think of how you know someone is feeling blue. We may say they are ?feeling down.? We may notice they look to the ground, and their chin is low. When we have communion we say the ancient liturgy, ?Lift up your hearts- we lift them up to the Lord.? The Psalms tell us in several places to lift up our eyes to the Lord. Ezra (9:6) says that we were too ashamed of our sins to lift up our faces to the Lord. But Job (22:6) says when I delight in God I can lift up my face to Him. Psalm 3 (3:3) describes God as the ?Lifter of my head.? Jesus talked about the destruction, immorality and mayhem of the end times and he said that when we see such things we should ?Stand up and Lift up your heads for your redemption is near (Lk. 21:28).?
When I think about the stress of life- the sadness of Phill Eason?s leaving, the cancer of Joe and Becky; the strife for the Christians of Iraq and Syria; I want us to lift up our eyes. There is hope- not only does life continue- with God there is the hope of a much better life. God gives us forgiveness- strength- grace- love- hope.?? Lift up your eyes.
This year the Merry Presbyterians are going to the Columbia Museum of Art to see a Norman Rockwell exhibit. One of my favorite Norman Rockwell pictures is on the front cover of your bulletin. It is a picture of St. Thomas Church in New York and the bottom of its steeple tower. Everyone is looking down at the pavement- just plain old concrete- one step after the next. They are not even looking at each others? faces. But the words on the Marquis- and the title of the painting says, ?Lift up thine eyes.? The church?s call is always to think about more- to think about beauty- to think about what is eternal- and get your eyes off of the sidewalk and the traffic.
One of the reasons Charleston is called ?The Holy City? is not that it is a moral city. But that some of the tallest structures in that city are the steeples. Tall buildings don?t do very well in hurricanes. When you look at Charleston, especially from the Harbor or from the top of MUSC, you see the steeples of St. Philips, St Michaels, Grace Episcopal, First Scots, Huguenot, St. John?s Lutheran, Central Baptist, Emmanuel AME and others. The steeples point up to God. We too may point to God. Next week is ?National Back to Church Sunday.? It is a great time to invite someone- to point them in the right direction.
Our job is not to point in, or to point at ourselves, or to point around, our ultimate job is to point up to God. Communion is not just looking around at each other in unity. It is a communion with God. Communion points up to the resurrection and to our hope. So we may lift up not only our eyes, not only our heads, but also our hearts.