A little perspective

A Sermon on Luke 19:1-10

Sometimes, all you need is a little perspective . . .

As a child I loved climbing trees! The neighborhood kids and I would get together, climb trees and go on imaginary adventures right in our own backyards.

I remember my parents had two big pine trees at the end of our driveway. The pine trees were huge. The one tree was really tall, and the second was a little bit shorter because the top was cut off so to not hit the power and telephone lines that ran down the street. Since the two trees grew together, on the outside they looked like one massive odd shaped pine tree, but on the inside—as a kid you could crawl to the inside—and it was a nature created cave or fort. And my sister, my friends and I would always climb the shorter tree, since the top was cut off we could climb to the very tipping top and see out over the whole neighborhood. We could see who was playing basketball at the end of the street, or who was walking their dog, or out biking. We had the perfect bird's eye view of the whole neighborhood.

As a little child, it can be easy to think that the world revolves around just you and your family—me and my family. Cognitively, or on some level children know that there is a big world out there, people living across our nation and oversees, but on a day to day basis it's easy to only know what we see. So when my friends and I climbed to the top of that pine tree, we gained a new perspective—we were able to see that there's a larger world out there than just me and my family, and that I was only one small piece of the grander puzzle.

Sometimes, all you need is a little perspective . . .

The word "perspective" can mean a couple different things. So let's get on the same page here. Perspective can refer to an optical glass, such as a telescope or even eye glasses which help us see things more clearly or see things such as stars way up in the sky that we may have difficulty otherwise seeing. Perspective can also refer to the representation of drawing parallel lines in order to provide depth to a flat surface. Artists use parallel lines to provide dimensions to their artwork and help the viewer to see the painting come to life in a 3D fashion. Perspective can also refer to the capacity to view things in a different and broader light. Such as when my friends and I would climb the pine tree and realize that we were only one small piece of the puzzle.

Regardless of which specific definition you cling to, the overall theme is that perspective helps us see something that we are hindered from seeing. For example, Zacchaeus knew that Jesus was out there amongst the crowd, but he could not see Jesus. So he climbed the sycamore tree to gain the perspective needed to see Jesus.

Sometimes, all you need is a little perspective . . .

Last weekend I was "Happened". I was an adult participant at a diocesan wide youth retreat called "Happening," a spiritual renewing retreat for youth, led by youth. During the Happening retreat I gained great perspective. See, to be honest with you, prior to the retreat I was having difficulty seeing Jesus and feeling God's presence. I knew that God is always present, God was hearing my prayers, and that there is life in study of Scripture. But my traditional (or usual) ways of praying, worshipping, and studying began to feel stale. I knew that Jesus was there, I just couldn't quite see him. Last weekend, at Happening, I definitely and clearly saw Jesus. I saw Jesus shining through our youth's faces and lives. I was amazed and captured by how well teens were able to articulate their faith and theology. I was taken back by how honest and open teens were being with one another, talking about real and tough issues they face on a daily basis. Amongst the chaos of constant change in our ever growing technology and secularized world, teens found hope –teens find hope— in the changelessness of Christ. They spoke about how God is and will always be there for you—regardless of friends coming and go, switching schools, parents divorcing, and simply being overwhelmed and over scheduled—God is always there loving them, loving you!

Sometimes, all we need is a little perspective . . .

Maybe you are like Zacchaeus, yet instead of standing amongst a crowd, you are sitting in your pew this morning. You have heard about and know that Jesus is out there and that God is always with you; yet you cannot see Jesus and in your heart you do not feel God's presence.

Or maybe you are like Zacchaeus in another way, some translations portray Zacchaeus as skeptical and curious. He has heard about this guy named Jesus, and he wants to get a ‘good look at this man!' So maybe you came to church today not really sure whether God is actually there, yet you yearn to see him.

Or maybe you already know, feel and see God in your life on a daily basis. Maybe your gift is to help others see how God is moving in their life. There is a book I stumbled upon this past week called "The Noticer" by Andy Andrews, The book is about a man called "Jones" who goes around noticing different positive things in others lives to help them gain some perspective. Jones would help others see the good and blessings in their life. Maybe you are one of God's "noticers" to help others see the amazing work of Christ in their daily lives.

Sometimes, all we need is a little perspective . .. .

Remember Jesus came to seek out and save the lost. We all go through seasons of feeling lost in our lives. Often when we are in the midst of despair or a dark season we are unable to see God's thumbprint or footsteps in our lives. Not until we look in retrospect are we able to see how God was with us every step of the way—holding us, comforting us.

There's a story a great theologian told, and I'm blanking on who to attribute this to at the moment, but story goes: there is a man who decided in the pitch black of night to walk across a big frozen body of water to get to the next town. He thought nothing of it at the time, but once he arrived to the other side safely and the sun rose he looked back at his journey and realized how incredibly dangerous his journey had been. The ice was thin and cracked in several places, he easily could have taken a wrong step and fell through the ice. It wasn't until the man was able to look back upon his journey that he was able to say "Surely God was with me."

And surely Christ is with us today! As Scriptures claims, Jesus came to seek out and save the lost. Jesus comes seeking each and every one of us, just as he sought out Zacchaeus. Jesus did not pass by the tree that Zacchaeus was in. No, Jesus knew exactly where Zacchaeus was, walked right up to him and called him by name. Likewise, Jesus will not skip over you and me. Jesus continues, even today, to seek us out and meet us where we are. So that we may know with conviction and feel in our hearts the power of Christ's love, the abundance of God's grace, and the healing touch of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes, in order to see Jesus, all we need is a little perspective . . .

Amen.