Claim Your Higher Power - April 19, 2009
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Dear Friend in Christ,
The following sermon is dedicated to the Glory of God and to the Triumphant Women of the Crawford House. Here is an explanation of how it came about; the main message of the sermon then follows.
As you may know, our congregation has been partnering with a very important ministry here in our home town. The Crawford House is a training ground for women that are in recovery. I like to think of it as a life university. It is a school of dignity. Several of the triumphant women of the Crawford House are here with us every Sunday, worshiping the Lord and helping with our worship services. They are reclaiming their dignity and their worth. And they're basing it on faith in God. I am so proud of them. I am so proud that our church is in partnership with Crawford House.
Ruth Gunsel and Sally Pillar - I salute you for your ministry as the "Flying Angels" - you bring our Crawford House women to church week after week. Bravo.
Several of the residents have chosen to join our church as Associate Members. I had the great privilege of performing that baptism of one of those young ladies, and she made it her project to say thank you to our church by organizing a thank you dinner at Crawford House. She invited Sally and Ruth and me. It was wonderful. We had a great time. We had a discussion, and we sang together, and we had a great meal. It was a privilege to talk with them. During the prayer time I heard the most beautiful prayer of confession ever. "We humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings." How excellent! Humble and true, and yet maintaining our sense of fundamental worth.
One item that kept coming up in the discussion with these triumphant, recovering women was the notion of the higher power. I cannot begin to imagine what it's like to struggle with the demons of addiction they have struggled with. But I do know this - they feel that they couldn't have come through the experience on their own, without the Higher Power. I am delighted that they find one of their sources of spiritual energy and refreshment here in our church.
I want to talk with you today about that higher power.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, Good morning! Our title and our topic this morning is “Claim Your Higher Power.”
It’s hard for me to describe how excited I am about this topic. I have been doing so much thinking about it. My only hope is that I can articulately share with you what’s on my heart about this topic, the Higher Power. It is a most remarkable thing, and it is available to each and every one of us.
What is the Higher Power?
The Higher Power is, for us, the living, risen spirit of Jesus Christ. The Higher Power is a place; the Higher Power is a power; and the Higher Power is a personal presence. I want to talk with you about that today.
First of all, the Higher Power is a place. When I refer to the risen Christ, I am referring to an objective, spiritual entity that exists in a spiritual dimension, that we as the children of God have the opportunity and the privilege of accessing through our minds in prayer. It is an objective spiritual reality, an objective spiritual entity which we call Jesus the Christ, which we have the opportunity to access.
For instance, have you flown in a plane? Have you ever taken off in a plane on the rainiest, most dismal, cloudiest, awful weather? You taxi down the runway and see the raindrops cascading by the window; you look out and see only clouds; and you wonder how the pilot can navigate through all this. Somehow, he does, and soon you break through those clouds. You’re up above the clouds, and there’s a crystal-clear blue dome of a sky. The sun is shining bright, and underneath you are the gray and white carpets of clouds. Where you are, the sun is bright and brilliant.
That’s what I mean by the Higher Power being a place. It is a place you can go in your mind to be with God. I am continuing to develop this idea. When Jesus was referring to “the kingdom”, His favorite concept, He compared it to so many things. But I believe this Higher-Power place is what He was referring to and constantly pointing us to.
Furthermore, I believe that all of the Higher Power that could be contained in one human form was contained in Jesus of Nazareth. He is the Holy Spirit. He is the incarnation of the Higher Power. And He lives today.
So, the Higher Power is a place we can go in our minds. And it’s there for you, all the time, every time you turn to it.
Can I tell you something that I’ve learned about God? In all the years that I’ve gone to church and all the years that I’ve studied about Him and all the years that I’ve sought to walk with Him, I can tell you this about God: God never intrudes. God never pushes in. God always waits for us to open the door for Him. But you can open the door! And when you open the door, the light shines through, and you can have access to the Higher Power. So, the Higher Power is a place that you can go, anytime. The door is always unlocked.
Second, the Higher Power is a power. The Higher Power is a concentration of spiritual energy that helps ordinary people do extraordinary things. Do you ever read articles in the newspaper about someone, somewhere, who sees a car rolling backward? The car would do terrible damage, and the person doesn’t even think about it, just pushes the car out of the way. Humans shouldn’t be able to do that, but they do it. You’ve read stories like that. Perhaps you can look back on your life and remember something that took extraordinary strength and courage, something you look back on and say, “How did I ever manage to do that?” The Holy Spirit – the Higher Power of the risen Christ – was with you.
I believe that the Higher Power enables us to do extraordinary things – push away addictions; push away bad habits; push through grief. How can we do it on our own? Certainly the substances and the substitutes of the world are not the way, but the Higher Power is! That is what the triumphant women of the Crawford House have found. That is what triumphant Christians throughout the ages, everywhere, have found. The Higher Power is there as power, as spiritual energy. It is this which Jesus harnessed when He touched sick people and made them well. That is the power. It is that which you tap into when you are able to get through some impossible things that you couldn’t get through on your own power. Amen? Amen! The Higher Power is a power, and it is available to you. The spiritual energy, existing in the spiritual dimension, is available to you as a place and as power.
Also, as personal presence. My friends, Jesus is present for you as a refuge and as a power, but also as a friend. Jesus was always going around being a friend to people, wasn’t He? To the woman whom everyone else was going to stone, He said, “Let the one who is guilt-free throw the first stone.” And as they all let their stones drop to the ground, He was with her and said, “Neither will I condemn you.” He was present to her as a friend.
After the resurrection, the crest-fallen Peter was forgiven by Jesus, because He was a friend. The heartbroken Mary went to the tomb only to find that she had a friend who spoke her name. So I invite this for you too, my friends. When you invoke the Higher Power, you are invoking a personal companion who cares about you thoroughly and personally.
It is my hope for each and every one that you would know that you are so loved that this Higher Power is available to you. I invite you to name that power. Name Him Jesus. And claim that power; claim Him as your Savior – your place, your energy, your companion, your friend forever. It is so, because God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2009 Anthony J. Godlefski