“God’s Economy”

Posted By Beckie Sweet on Aug 20, 2023 | 0 comments

August 20, 2023 ~ 12th Sunday after Pentecost

Tending the New Creation ~ Rev. Beckie Sweet


I have an important question for you to consider today.

Are you a springer, or an oozer?

I am talking about how you get out of bed in the morning.  Do you spring out of bed, excited about what the day has in store for you?  Or do you slowly ooze out of bed, wondering if the day will be worth your efforts to meet it?

Now, I realize that we are all a mix of both, and it depends a lot on the day, and on our state of being.  In order to be a springer, one needs to be in a good place mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  If one is not in that good place, oozing may be as much as can be expected.

But, even an oozer can harness the energy necessary to add some springiness, if that oozer has HOPE.  A primary deterrent to springiness is a lack of hope ~ a lack of hope that the future holds any real promise.  I wonder, when you think about the future of your life, of our world, are you a springer, or an oozer?  You see, the way we feel when we wake up is usually related to how we view the future.

Our past shapes our present, but one cannot go back to the past.  The future, on the other hand shapes our present based upon how we envision that future.  If we think the future is bright, we are more likely to spring with hope and enthusiasm.  If we think the future is doom and gloom, we will be more likely to ooze.


Our scripture text, a letter penned by this church’s namesake, Paul, gives us a perspective on this issue.  Paul tells readers of all ages that our present attitude should be based, not on the past, but on a future promise.  God has made a promise and has sealed it with the Holy Spirit, and invited us into a relationship with all those who will collaborate to make that promise a reality.

You see, Paul’s letters to the newly formed Christian churches are not lists of rules or laws.  After hearing about the state of each church, Paul tries to discern what is needed for their unique context: encouragement, gratitude, unity, mission, care, leadership, faith, etc…  Because Paul is a human follower of Jesus, sometimes he gets the prescription right, and sometimes he is a bit off-base.  In this situation, Paul is actually writing to several churches that surrounded the city of Ephesus, probably each one with unique characteristics.  The intention was to circulate the letter to all of the churches in the area.

The point of the letter was to paint a picture for the readers and hearers of what the church could and should look like as it is united with Jesus.  That may sound simple enough to us.  But the reality was that Paul was talking about bringing unity between groups of people that had hated each other for centuries.  How did he expect Jews and Gentiles to commune in the same family of faith?  It would seem impossible.

It all comes down to one word: HOPE!  Uniting two warring factions is only possible because of the promise that God made about the future.  The beginning of this text speaks of the lavishness with which believers have received grace from God.  Why?  V. 10 states:  To be carried out in the fullness of time; namely to bring all things – in heaven and on earth – together in Christ.

This is God’s promise.  God is working, even now, to bring all things together.    It is NOT God’s will that some folks gain entrance into Heaven and that everyone else live out eternity cast out and cursed.  God’s will is that everyone would be brought together in unity and peace eternally.  That is what we call God’s promised and preferred future.  God’s economy is that all would live on this earth as though the reign of Christ has already come.  That means trusting that EVERYONE is forgiven, welcomed, valued, and worthy of abundant life ~ now and in the future.

No matter our past, Paul reminds folks that In Christ you too were chosen.  When you heard the Good News of salvation, the word of truth, and believed in it, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the pledge of our inheritance, the deposit paid against the full redemption of a people who are God’s own—to the praise of God’s glory.


About a decade ago, I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip with a group of pastoral colleagues.  We were going to the New Jersey shore following Super Storm Sandy, to work on cleaning out and repairing homes in situations where the homeowner did not have the means to recover from the storm damage.  We slept nights on cots in a UMC fellowship hall, showered at the YMCA, packed our own meals and had devotions together each morning and evening.  Our group was split up and assigned to work in several homes that were about two blocks inland from the shore, which surprised me.  I expected that folks with more means would be living so close to the shore.  But no, this was the neighborhood occupied by those who worked as chamber maids, mechanics, part-time hotel hospitality staff and cooks, etc…

The home I was working on was smaller than a cottage.  It had four rooms, and a tarp for a roof, since the storm had literally blown the roof right off.  Most of the windows were broken, there was debris everywhere, and the owner and her son were still living there.  The second day we were there a youth group arrived to work with us.  My unique skills were put to use coordinating the clean-up detail.  We gathered debris, hauled it out to the dumpster, swept up the area and started again.  We carefully gathered the broken glass out of the window frames, marked the window for replacement, and cleaned up.  After a few days of this, my body was doing more oozing than springing, but we continued on.

One of the high school students assigned to my care was really struggling with identity issues.  He had a lot of anxiety about what he would do with his life, what gifts God had given him, and how he was to live.   These youth shared devotion time with us each evening, during which time we would report on “God sightings” we had experienced during that day.  Those were sometimes a simple act of kindness, the tears of the homeowner, the kindness of community folks who would bring us treats from the local restaurant, the willingness of team members to help them out, or the beauty of the area even after it had been ravaged by the storm.

As we all parted ways to head home when our time there came to a close, this previously anxious student gave me a big hug and told me that he realized that he did not have to worry about being successful in life according to the world’s standards.  As long as he was following God’s will, he would be successful in the eyes of God.

After sitting in the van for 8 hours on the way home, during which time my body stiffened up considerably, I had an amazing spring as I slid off of the seat and out of the vehicle.  The HOPE God had promised was still flashing before the eyes of my memory.  I have no doubt that the young man is now transforming the world with the love of Christ.


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