Another Year, Another Leaf Sermon
Message: “Another Year, Another Leaf” December 30, 2018 Harbor Church
Another New Year is almost upon us. The ending of one year, and the beginning of another. A time to naturally reflect back, and to look forward. A chance to review lessons learned, an opportunity to do things differently , perhaps better in the days ahead.
I used to make new years resolutions, not so much any more, or at least they have changed significantly.
The Top Ten are usually pretty much the same each year:
- Get Healthy. Eat a better diet, lose ten pounds.
- Exercise more.
- Spend less, save more
- Get better organized
- Learn a new hobbie
- Read more
I think the problem with most New years resolutions is that they focus on things external, and that they usually don’t last very long. And many of these goals are never achieved by most people. I have a friend who has lost over 400 pounds , 10 or 20 pounds at a time, he takes it off, and he puts it back on. Why is it so hard to effect real, meaningful lasting change in our lives? And How do we go about it?
So Another new Year is upon us, and with it, another opportunity to turn over a new Leaf. We strive to Turn the page -to Write a new chapter, start a new book. To turn over a new leaf, to act or behave in a better or more responsible way. To reform, improve, mend one's ways, make a fresh start, change for the better;
This is a good thing, but if we are going to attempt it, lets try to go about it in the best possible way, one that offers the best possibility of lasting change, and one that offers genuine growth in ways that really matter.
So lets turn over a new leaf, but lets select the right leaf or leaves to turn over. A natural leaf fall off a tree, dies and decays and goes away. Many NY resolutions can be the same. Fad diets, and NY Times best seller books are usually forgotten or discarded over time. Just like the leaves of autumn covered by the winter snows.
Gold leaf, by contrast, endures.
GOLD ON THE INSIDE
Gold leafing, or gilding, is the process whereby gold is hammered into thin sheets by goldbeating and is often used for gilding. This precious metal is then applied to the surface of common materials to make them beautiful and durable. But in some applications, it is more than cosmetic- in the Parcel-Gilt technique, objects are only gilded over part of their surfaces. This may mean that all of the inside, and none of the outside, of a chalice or similar vessel is gilded. For instance, the cup that is use during Holy Communion, to hold the blood of Christ, might be porcelain on the outside, but gold on the inside where it touches the actually representation of Jesus’ blood, God’s presence. This is the kind of Gold leaf that I would like to see us turn over in our lives in the new year. Real change, internal change, personal transformation that matters not only in this life, but for all eternity.
THE SPIRIT OF GOD. Can help us do this. Whatever God touches can turn to gold. God can bring about true change and growth. It doesn’t matter what we are talking about. TRINITY. The Holy Spirit isn’t as well understood as God the Father and Son. EXPLAIN. The Father ordains, the Son saves and reveals, but the Spirit gives us power for living. Whether we are trying to correct Character flaws, or improve and increase virtues in our lives, God spirit can help us do this.
“Spiritual-Breathing” Sin and flaws. Griefs and burdens. Exhale to bad, inhale to good. Be filled with the spirit, like a precious chalice holding the wine of the sacrament, God’s grace is available to us if we ask for it and appropriate his power for living a better life. Like a cup, ask to be filled up, to the brim, with God’s Spirit.
Or like the building in our reading, lets be careful with the spiritual construction project of our character, of our lives.
BUILDING A TEMPLE OF GOLD
In the history of the architecture of cathedrals and churches: Gold leafing in architecture became an integral component , especially in the of Byzantine and Roman churches and basilicas beginning in the 5th century AD. ,
Our reading tells us that we are a Temple of God’s Spirit. A building that lasts a temple for God’s purposes, to be sanctified, to be made holy. And the builder in our parable carefully chooses precious materials to build with.
CHOICES. The choices we make can make all the difference. What will we choose to concentrate on this year? Another fad or trendy new year’s resolution, or one that can bring deep internal change that will ultimately make us better people from the inside out?
May this be the type of gold leaf that we turn over this year; to be set apart for God’s purposes to touch the world around us for the better, and to become more Christ-like in our internal character.
FILLING OURSELVES WITH GOLD
Gold leaf is used In culinary applications: Flavorless, odorless, and nontoxic, edible gold can be used as a garnish for desserts, cocktails, and entrées. It can be made of pure gold (24-karat) or a mix of edible metals (such as pure gold and pure silver). It is available in several forms.
What will our diet look like in the new year? Not the physical food that we ingest, but the spiritual sustenance of which we partake? What will we fill ourselves up with in the new year? Our heart, our minds, our spirits, our lives? Will we be as careful about our spiritual diet as we are about the kinds of food we eat to nourish our bodies? Will we nourish our souls with the soul food of the Scriptures, and communion with God through prayer, and with spending time in Christian community with others in worship and other forms of ministry?
Of course, we need to remember, that All that glitters is not gold” – Gold leaf is a common expression - but the term is rarely used when referring to actual gold leaf. Often it is more commonly used to describe any kind of metal coating with any type of shiny material.
Pyrite, or Fool’s Gold, is a counterfeit that looks like the real thing but isn’t. Fool's gold is an inferior mineral that mimics the look of gold. It may be shiny and brass-colored, but any miner will tell you, it is not as good as gold. It is more common, harder, and more brittle than gold. When crushed into powder, it looks greenish-black, whereas real gold powder is yellow. Pyrite contains sulfur and iron
It is not, in any sense, “ as Good as Gold”
Our reading from Isaiah warns us of this:
My ways are not your ways, says the lord,…. [Therefore ]Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.
2 Why spend your money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in rich food. 3 Pay attention to me, come to me; and listen, so that you may live.
What are we doing to make sure that we have the real thing and not a counterfeit? To ensure that the changes we pursue and desire to implement in our lives are genuine, authentic, pure and lasting. Staying close to God in word and in prayer are a good start. Examining our commitments and desires in the light of scripture make help us to discern what is good, and avoid the glitzy, fake, cosmetic changes that our world and culture promote all around us.
How will we know that we are on the right track, that we are seeking the right things, that our goals and aspirations for the new year are good as gold. Well, to mix metaphors, the ‘proof is in the pudding.” Our second reading concludes with these words:
12 “For you will go out in joy, and come back with peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees in the fields will clap their hands.
When we seek to turn over a new leaf in our lives, and when that leaf is made of the spiritual gold that we desire, it will shine forth clearly over time ”
This is a new leaf that is worthy of turning over in the coming season. Let’s turn over, a new leaf, let’s turn the page, write a new chapter or maybe a whole new book. May God richly bless you as you seek His face and His ways in the Coming New Year, amen.