Humble Bee Rev Bruce MacLeod January 29, 2023

Humble Bee                                     

January 29, 2023

Micah 6: 1–8

I Corinthians 1:18–31

Matthew 5:1–12                                           


I am going to beg your indulgence and step out of the pulpit. If you won’t come closer to me (sitting as you are in the far reaches of the sanctuary), then I will come to you.


The Gospel is like that. It needs to go to where people are. As followers of the Gospel, we need to go where people are. We are a group of older folks. But there are lots of younger people out there in the community. They have aching needs and it would be good for you to go out there where they are and find out if there are ways you might address those needs.

It sounds sort of foolish, that a small group of older people could go out and find out what young people’s needs are and then see if there is anything you could do to help them.


And that is the theme for the lessons this week. In Micah, God files a lawsuit against the people, saying to them, »Going through the rituals of worship isn’t being faithful. In order to be faithful, you need to do justice, exude steadfast love and walk humbly with God. Your lives need to reflect your relationship with God.

And 1st Corinthians talks about how even God’s foolishness is wiser than our wisdom. God turns things upside down. What we think of as wise is not wise in God’s economy. And the things that are wise in the Kingdom of heaven look foolish to us – like death on a cross as being the way to fullness of life, true life.

In our economy –

We tend to love heroes. We honor the powerful.

We revere the self-made man,

and the ones who can bend others to their will,

and the ones who flout the rules and to whom laws don’t apply.

We lionize the super rich and their trips into space,

the commanders-in-chief who can impose their desires,

and we love it when a few people find ways to get their way over the majority;

and those who refuse to compromise,

who hang on to win at all costs. They are gods.


This morning’s lessons turn things on their heads. They undermine these things we humans value. They plant doubts that quietly eat away at our human confidence. Foolish is wise and wise is foolish.


I play with words, or they play with me. As I read Micah, and the line about walking humbly with our God, I thought of the command: “humble be” (in a sort of Yoda-speak); then bumble bee and back to the humble bee.


Individual bees are not powerful. They are pretty insignificant. Yet, with 8 billion people on earth, we need bees. Without them to pollinate flowers and plants, millions and billions would starve. And not just human beings, but other creatures as well – both those that eat the fruits and nuts and those that eat the creatures that eat the fruits and nuts.


It’s not the great and powerful that God blesses, but the lowly.


There are all kinds of pain and suffering in the world. We see it everywhere, in the news – all the mass shootings, war, anger, political polarization. I hear it coming from my mouth when I’m driving and someone does something that inconveniences me.


How do we cope with that? With God’s blessing – that is, God promises to be with us in the midst of it all.


I used to believe that, but I wasn’t sure that God’s presence made much difference. When going through difficult things, I wasn’t sure that God’s presence helped, especially when I had no idea how to deal with the problem facing me, when I needed actual help, when things didn’t get better, when prayers weren’t answered.


We like yes for an answer. But sometimes the answer is No – sometimes God answers with silence. I have learned that it’s better to trust that God knows better than I do. I have, at times wanted things, like wanting to serve a particularly convenient church, or prestigious one. And then they don’t choose me, or it doesn’t work out. I had one stretch of 9 months without work. It did not make me happy. Then, I find myself going to work at a church that’s inconvenient and far away – and it turns out to be just exactly where I ought to be. I have skills and gifts they need, and they have something I need. I mean, a couple churches ago I ended up in Fall River, of all places. I’m not an urban person – and Fall River? That’s a tough place. But it turned out to be exactly the right place.


And one church I went to because it was prestigious and convenient, it didn’t work out. They invited me to resign after 19 months. I still believe I was supposed to be there, or at least that God was able to redeem the mess. I learned and grew from the experience and so did they. It didn’t turn out as we hoped, but God was in it.


In more recent times, I have come to believe that just having God beside me does make a difference; that it calms my soul, gives courage. God may not solve the issue, or even show me any answers about the things I need to do to navigate it all, but God – holding my presence, my soul, my life makes a difference. I do better when I come to a place where I realize, in all humility, that I am not able to solve all my problems. Some can’t be solved, but can only be lived with, and that’s where God being present helps.


It makes a difference because God’s love surrounds us, and God is good, in all things. When we come to the place where our pride and own strength, knowledge or wisdom isn’t enough, turn to God. Trust that God can do what we cannot, and because God is good, all the time, nothing else matters.


I used to preach a lot of different sermons, but over the years I realized I preach 1 sermon now: Love God with all your heart and soul and mind; and be humble enough love your neighbor as yourself.


Oh, and one other thing: Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ. Be humble enough to accept that love.


God is good, all the time.