I know many of you, many of us, need to be reminded of God’s love today. We need to be reminded of God’s love today because this pandemic has put us through so much — is putting us through so much. It is not over yet and we must continue to wear masks and keep distance and get vaccinated when we are able. We need that reminder that even in the midst of all the disease and sickness and death, you are not alone. We are not alone.
We like to understand people and the world around us. No, it’s more than that. We long to understand people and the world around us. For instance:
- Why do our next door neighbors make the choices they do with their homes, their loved ones, their jobs?
- Why do some proposed community projects come and go without anyone hardly noticing — while others compel thousands of comments and reasons both for and against?
- Why are some countries so much better at ____ (fill in the blank with what moves you: educating their children, taking days off to rest, feeding their people, combating a pandemic…)?
Probably for as long as there have been people, we’ve used stories to try to answer those and all of life’s most pressing questions. What kind of stories best help you flesh out those demanding questions?
Now, what does any of this have to do with this week’s readings and worship? Hopefully, more than we might initially think. The first letter by John tells us that we are Children of God and thus sin is not to be part of our program. Then, the gospel of Luke shows us that the resurrection is far more than just a promise of life after death. Instead, it is a challenge to all the things that bring death into our world.
So where does that leave us?
Do you know — really know deep in your soul — that you are a child of God?
Can we as a congregation, as a people, live in such a way as to make the resurrection truly sing in the world?
How might we do that? I suggest we do that by letting the writing adage, “Show, don’t tell” be our guide.
Inspirations this week:
As noted above, our biblical texts are 1 John 3 and Luke 24.
An article from M. Garlinda Burton, a United Methodist deacon who is interim general secretary of the United Methodist Church’s General Commission on Religion and Race.
An article from the Rev. John Oda who is Program Manager of the Asian American Language Ministry Plan at the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries.
From the Chicago Tribune on April 16th, Heidi Stevens’ column on how we process trauma.
For all three of those articles, I only quoted a small portion but all of them are well worth reading in full.
The wisdom of Clare story comes from Tuesday’s edition of Fr. Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations.
Finally, while I didn’t end up quoting it, this note from the wonderful worship resource site, Sacredise, rumbled around in my head and filled my spirit all week:
The task of witnessing to the resurrection, historically, has been one motive behind colonialism, Christian triumphalism, and even Christian violence against people of other faiths. This is tragic and horrifying, since nothing could be further from the Gospel of peace and grace that Jesus lived and taught. Even today, in a mistaken belief that we are somehow “witnessing” to Christ, Christians have engaged in crusades against evolution, climate change, Islam, abortion, homosexuality, and even social justice. Yet, the economic, political, and social implications of the resurrection have largely been ignored. However, when we place the resurrection, and the teaching that accompanies it in the New Testament, in the context of Jesus’ message of God’s Reign, we see that the resurrection is far more than just a promise of life after death. Rather, it is a challenge to everything that brings death into our world, and a call for all people to live differently – in ways that bring life to others. The true power of the resurrection is felt not so much after death, but here and now when God’s life is brought to all who are dying under oppression, poverty, persecution, and hatred.Sacredise
As usual, I offer my sermon in audio-only or video. Even though I have a majority of the sermon written, I don’t like posting just the text because I believe the text by itself doesn’t fully convey the message. I know it is quicker to read rather than to listen, but I trust that if you’ve read this far you are willing to hear what I have to say. If not, well, that’s certainly understandable too.
Luke tells us that’s what Jesus did. But Luke doesn’t show us that. We get a snippet of course. But I’m sure Jesus gave them way more than the three sentences Luke offers us here. I think Luke doesn’t give us the entirety of what Jesus said because that might make us complacent. If we have the whole answer already, we might think there is nothing left for us to do. Like in math class, if we want to follow God in the Way of Jesus, we have to show our work.
Here’s the audio:
Instead, Luke demonstrates that we have to create the response. We have to live the response. We have be the response. We have to show the love of God that we know in Jesus to our neighbors. We can’t just tell them about God. We are called to live, to be, to show love, because God is love.
The sermon starts at the 36:28 mark of the video:
As you can see, a lot fewer people in worship today. I wonder why that is?
The last word today belongs to Interim General Secretary Burton:
Until and unless we who serve the God of Love are willing to confront the indifference and racism in our own individual and corporate souls, people will die. The calling is clear. We must respond now or be prepared to lose more people to evil and death. I offer this question to my Christian community: When will we, the followers of Jesus, get frustrated enough and convicted enough by our faith to cry out, intercede, and transform?Garlinda Burton