Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Luke 3:1-20, "Provenance of Faith." From the series, "The Waiting Season." Advent 2, 2012, year C

Theres a town on I-90 that cuts through the heart of the Dakota's. It's name is Wall, SD and it is home to the almost famous Wall Drug Store. Wall drug was a store that was begun in the 1930's by the Huestead family, who moved to Wall, SD because they wanted both a small town to live and raise their family in and a small town with a Catholic Church in which they could grow in and express their faith. When they first opened the store it struggled, but then when Mt Rushmore opened, Ted Huestead, that is the family patriarch, had an idea that would draw weary tourist to their small town. You see Wall, SD is "on the way" to Mt Rushmore and it can get pretty hot in the summer months in the Dakota's, so Ted purposed to offer free Ice Water and bathrooms to all who came through Wall on their way to the new National Monument. People came for the Ice water and toilets, but ended up buying ice cream, doughnuts, coffee and post cards as well. Ted, or Mr. Heaustead, realized that they might be in the middle of nowhere, but they were also on the way to somewhere and because of this his family, life and business thrived and still thrive to this day. This is where we find ourselves this second week of Advent. We are kind of in the middle of nowhere, having just begun our Advent journey, but most importantly we are still on our journey to somewhere very special...Bethlehem and the birth of a savior.

In this weeks passage Luke gives us a sort of "who's who" in Roman and Judean political and religious life. He mentions Emperor Tiberius, Governor Pontus Pilot, Herod The Tetrarch and the Chief High Priest Annas, who's son-in-Law Caiaphas would be the one to condemn Jesus of Nazareth in his last days. There's several reasons for this "rundown". One reason is to give an account of those who, in all their political power and authority, stood to disrupt God's plan of salvation for the world and to point out that what God has decided to do, no man can stop. The other reason is our focus for this week. Why does Luke name all these historical figures, why does it matter, really, who ruled where and when? It's called provenance and it's a form of authentication. You see all the rulers, the soldiers, even the account of John the Baptists prove that the story of Jesus' life really happened.

Currently there are over 19 reality shows on TV that have to do with pickers, pawn shop owners and storage locker auctions. Why? Because behind all the junk, theres a story. Each piece of junk or collection of stuff has with it a story of who it belonged to, how it got there and what it's for and we love stories! The most popular of theses shows is PBS's Antique Road Show. Each episode viewers tune in and see how a $50 dollar chair, or doll, or set of spoons turn out to be worth $50,000!!! How does this happen? Provenance, the process in which the assessor authenticates the item as being unique turning a garage sale item into a museum piece!

Did you know at the dedication or "concentration" of every Roman Catholic church there is the reliquary present? A reliquary is a box or case of some sort filled with the bones, clothing, or something closely associated with the canonized saint that the church is being named for. Since the authenticity of many relics over the years have been disputed, the church now requires provenance for the relics. A hand written note or some other form of documentation that comes from Rome that authenticates the item or items as "true and faithful relics". It's not good enough now to simply say the item is sacred or even believe it to be sacred, it must be proven to be sacred.

This is again, Luke's purpose. To offer provenance for the life, ministry and death of Jesus Christ, to authenticate his existence and therefore prove God's plan for humanity. The authority, the geographic location and even the witness of John the Baptist, all authenticate the work of Christ in this world. So question? Where and what is your faith provenance? What authenticates faith in your life? Is it seen in how you work, what you say, how you give, and in the way you treat others? Or does your faith lack provenance? Everyone who calls themselves a Christian must be able to authenticate their faith, must have what we Methodist call "assurance", knowing, that you know, that you know that God has forgiven you and all that takes is repentence. This advent season seek God while he may be found and find ways to authenticate your faith.

Blessed Advent 2,
Pastor Josh

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