Friday, August 26, 2016

In Focus or Not?

This morning (Friday) the sunrise was spectacular. I know that we live in the middle of the country, the "flyover" part of this great country. There are some (and yes, I am generalizing) that think to get a truly spectacular sunrise, you need to go to the mountains or ocean or even Hawaii. When we went to Hawaii for our 30th anniversary, we did see some mighty spectacular sunrises (or at least I did). But I believe that we can get some really great Midwest sunrises as well. This morning was an example of that.

Here is the way it looked this morning. I don't feel that you could take a brush and canvass and make something so beautiful.

So there I was taking pictures of the sunrise, as you would expect if you know me. Then I saw our wind chime. We have several wind chimes but this one caught my eye. So I decided to take a picture of it.

I wanted to get the beauty of the sunrise in the background, so this is the outcome. As I looked at the picture, I felt uncomfortable. I wondered why. Then I realized it was because the cross was out of focus. I was focusing on the beauty of nature and not on the cross. So I took another one.

 I know that it isn't as good as the first one because the cross was spinning in the gentle morning breeze, I still liked it better. Why? Because the cross was in focus.

Then I thought, isn't that the problem we have in our world? We focus on the beauty of the world, and there is nothing wrong with that, but often, it is at the cost of the cross. Many people would take the 1st picture of just the sunrise with nothing in the way of it, and call it a day. That is the way of the world in general. Remove the cross, remove God, remove Christ from the picture and just focus on nature. In doing so, they forget the Creator and Sustainer. They have left out the One who made the heavens and the earth.

Others would take the 2nd picture figuring that at least they have Christ/the cross in the picture. Isn't it good enough to put Him in your life, even if you don't focus on Him. Isn't that how we are to live? Why do we need to focus on Christ anyway. Put Him somewhere just not at the center, not in focus, not that which guides your life. Good enough?  Yet, not everyone that says "Lord, Lord, will enter into heaven." To place Him on the side, in the back pocket, like a lucky charm, is not faith. That is just kidding yourself.

The last picture shows how we are to live our lives - seeing everything, doing everything, through the cross of Christ. Living as that redeemed child of God, a person of faith will have the cross in focus in all things of life. In many ways, that is what it means to live as a Christian steward. You live your life, focused on Christ, and letting everything run through Him, through faith in Him. All you say, all you do, all you think - focused on Christ.

And that, was the lesson I was taught by the sunrise this morning. I repented of those times I have removed Christ from the picture. I confessed those times that I had Christ out of focus, on the sidelines in my life. I thanked God for the times that the Holy Spirit, through Word and Sacrament, has guided me to keep Christ at the center of my life and in focus. Yes, I learned a lot from the beautiful Midwestern sunrise this morning.

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