Giving All Of Ourselves

Okay, so my proud blogging moment of March was when I went through and updated all of my pages and then created a Year of Mark page where all of my sermons from Mark are archived!  It’s crazy to look back and see how far we have gotten.

Here is my sermon from last Sunday.  It was the end of chapter 12, the end of the Gospel narrative, before the apocalypse in chapter 13 transitions us into the Passion.  I feel like everyone in the church is really into this right now!  It’s going to be a little bit odd celebrating Easter and then jumping back into the Passion and the crucifixion and resurrection but also we are all really caught up in the story right now, so I think it will be fine.

Here’s my sermon!  Enjoy …

***

Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
March 31, 2019

Mark 12:35-44

Giving All Of Ourselves

I would like to start off this morning by reading part of today’s passage from The Message translation of the bible.  I am going to read Mark 12:38-39, where Jesus denounces the scribes.

He continued teaching.  “Watch out for the religion scholars.  They love to walk around in academic gowns, preening in the radiance of public flattery, basking in prominent positions, sitting at the head table at every church function.”

So if it is all the same to you all, I think I’m just going to take my robe off this morning.

You know, preach in a sweater.

Quick context before we jump into this morning’s scripture reading:  We know that Jesus is in Jerusalem.  He has been questioned by the Pharisees, the Herodians and the Sadducees (all religious groups that, in the New Testament, typically are in opposition of Jesus). Then a scribe, who overheard the exchanges between these groups and Jesus, asks Jesus what, then, is the greatest commandment out of all of the laws.  Jesus responds and says to love God and then love people.

The scribes are still primary characters in today’s story, so let’s first talk about who they are.

We know that The Message translates the word, “scribe” as, “religion scholar,” so I guess, simply put, that is who they are. The word, “scribe” derives from the Latin root, “to write”.  Scribes are groups of people who are capable of reading and writing; they are seen as part of the leadership or the learned class.

In the New Testament, scribes appear both alone, just as a group of scribes or also within other groups (for example, the scribes of the Pharisees). In almost all cases, like the Pharisees, the Herodians and the Sadducees, the scribes are opponents of Jesus.

And now Jesus has turned his attention to them.

This morning’s scripture is broken up into three sections.  The first section – verses 35-37 – addresses the question of whether or not the Messiah is the son of David.  The second section – verses 38-40 – is where Jesus denounces the scribes and warns people about them.  The third section – verses 41-44 – is the story of the widows offering, where Jesus compares the large offerings of those who have a lot to give to the small offerings of a woman who gives all that she has.

Let’s start with this first section – the question of Messiahship (verses 35-37 if you are following along).

Here’s the thing about this section – Jesus poses a rhetorical question that he really does not give an answer to.  He says, “How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the Son of David?” and then references Psalm 110, a psalm attributed to David that says, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.’”  Then Jesus asks the question, “David himself calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?”

Simply put, there is this question of Messiahship that no one can seem to come to any kind of consensus on.  The scribes say that the Messiah is the Son of David and yet, David, himself, in this psalm Jesus is referencing, calls the Messiah, “Lord”. So how can the Messiah also be the sonof David?  How can the Messiah be a descendent of David when David is calling him Lord?

But we also know that, in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus, himself, has been referred to as both the Messiah (in Mark 8:29 where Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter replies, “You are the Messiah”) and also the Son of David (in Mark 10:48 when Bartimaeus, the blind man, says, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”).

And yet the words of this psalm were written down long before Jesus walked on this earth in human form.

This is a little bit confusing, right?  And the thing is, Jesus does not really give a good answer, either.  He kind of poses this question and then leaves it out there for people to ponder the tension of Messiahship while he moves on to his next point.

Which is to warn people about the scribes.

And here is, I think, the point Jesus is trying to make.  This is not just about the scribes.  Jesus is questioning the authority they were all accustomed to blindly following in the world they were living in.  There are so many things that they had just become the status quo – who has money, who has power, who has access to education and other resources that give meaning to people’s lives – and Jesus is pushing back.

Remember Jesus had just issued the Greatest Commandment – that above all the others laws, people are to love God and then to love people – and now he is asking people to step outside of the convoluted cultural religious rhetoric that they are all trying so desperately to understand and think about what really matters.

Jesus warns people about the scribes because he says they are focusing on the wrong things; this is why Jesus does not answer the question about Messiahship!  Because the question, itself, is not what is important; what matters is how we live our lives.

It is important to note that this passage is the last passage in the Gospel narrative.  Chapter 13 of the Gospel of Mark is the apocalyptic narrative of the destruction of the temple (next week is going to be fun!).  Then, in chapter 14, the Passion narrative begins.

So this is kind of it, right?  This is Jesus’ final lesson, in a way; it is his final opportunity, before the plot turns to kill him begins, to remind people of what really matters.

And he has such a powerful example in this last section – the widow’s offering.

The story of the widow’s offering is one that is fairly well known; it appears in all three of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke).  Jesus is observing the crowd putting money into the temple treasury.  He watches the wealthy put in large sums of money and then watches a widow puts in two copper coins – the Roman Quadran, which is the smallest denomination of Roman coinage and worth approximately 1/64 of a laborers daily wage.  This is a much smaller amount than the wealthy are putting in, but it is all that she has.

Then Jesus says to the disciples, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury.  For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she has, all she had to live on.”

Here, again, Jesus is questioning the authority they were all accustomed to blindly following.  Because what did this authority do?  It gave power to the wealthy, to those who were putting large sums of money in the treasury – not to the widow, who barely put anything in.

But Jesus calls into question the hierarchy of wealth and power.  He says that it is not about giving out of our abundance, but about giving out of our poverty that makes a real difference in God’s kingdom.  That in order to truly live into God’s love we are supposed to give everything we have, all we have to live on.

Okay, so now we will move into a time of offering.

Just kidding.

There is a lot going on in these three different sections of our scripture reading, but I think when we look at them all together, they remind us to stop and question the norms that we have grown accustomed to, both in our culture and also in our personal lives.

Because as much as we would all like to think we are like the widow who gives everything that she has, realistically I think sometimes we do settle into what is comfortable.  And we are afraid to question this and to step outside of it.

Jesus says beware of the scribes because they are missing the point and then we hear this story about people giving just to meet an obligation, not giving out of faith – again, missing the point.  And in calling this out to the disciples, he is telling them that they need to decide if they are giving to God simply out of obligation or if they are giving to God out of faith.

Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury.

This woman gave all that she had.

How many of us can say the same thing?

And I am not just talking about money, either; I am talking about all of the offerings that we give to God – our money, our time, our talent.  Are we giving our whole selves to God?  Are we putting in everything that we have, everything that we have to live on?

There is a reason Jesus turns to the disciples to teach them this lesson about the widow’s offering.  Because as much as he was calling out the scribes for their actions in the passages before, the reality is that it is also not simply the actions of the wealthy and powerful that matter in this world; it is the actions of the seemingly ordinary people in this world that God is calling to do God’s work that have the capacity to change the world.

And that includes us.

I think this passage, which closes out the narrative of the Gospel and sets up the transition into the narrative of the Passion, calls us to do a personal audit, of sorts.  It calls us to look at the norms that we have grown accustomed to – that we have settled comfortably into – and question them.

Where is our money going?

Where is our time going?

Where are our talents going?

How are we living our lives?

What are giving to God?  What are we giving to this church, to the Body of Christ?

Are we giving our whole selves out of faith?

Or are we giving a little bit of ourselves out of obligation?

These are hard, but necessary questions for us to ask ourselves if we want to grow in our faith and in our relationship with God. And I believe we are being called to be bold in our giving as we question our norm and seek to give all of ourselves to God.

And I am talking about us, as individuals and us, as members of this church.  And I am also talking about us, as a church, as a community of faith, as the Body of Christ. We cannot grow complacent.  We must call into question what has become normal around us.  Because if we fail to do this, we might miss what God is calling us to do, to give, to be in this moment.

The stakes are high in this morning’s passage, because Jesus is in Jerusalem and the cross is on the horizon.  But the stakes are just as high today, because the world needs good Christians, living out God’s call to love and serve and make this world a better place.

Today I charge you:  Question what you are accustomed to.  Be attention to what God is calling you to do and say and be.  And then put in everything you have for God.

Thanks be to God!
Amen.

Preaching in Pumps Podcast Artwork

Love God. Love People.

Full disclosure – according to the timestamp on my phone, I texted Bruce at 9:22PM last night (Saturday night) and said:

Word count: 75

I haven’t done this in a long time.  I have really tried to move away from the whole Saturday night sermon writing thing – it just doesn’t work for me in this particular season of my life.  But for so many reasons this week, I just couldn’t get it together – and yet, I was totally calm about the whole thing.  We had our annual Spaghetti Supper and Dessert Auction last night and after we cleaned up and everyone left, I sat down in my office and started to write.  And at 10:51PM I sent this text:

1657. Done!

Once I sat down, the words just flowed.  I love this scripture and I love preaching on it.  I love charging my church to be a Greatest Commandment church!

Here’s the sermon.  Enjoy …

***

Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
March 24, 2019

Mark 12:28-34

Love God. Love People.

Every year on Easter morning, I wait until almost everyone has left the Anawan Club after the sunrise service, I take a picture of the cross standing on the shore of the Rehoboth reservoir, adorned in freshly-picked flowers, with the sun risen behind it and I post that picture to my social media with the simple caption, “Love wins!”

This, for me, is the most pivotal moment of our faith; that moment when we realize, once again, that God’s love has triumphed over hatred, over evil and over death, itself.

This love – this all-encompassing, unexplainable, grace-filled love – is what gives meaning to my life.  It is what drives me to be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friends and pastor.  It is what gives me hope when it feels like the world is dark and full of despair.

If you read my note in the Epistle this week, you will know that our scripture reading for this morning is, by far, my favorite passage of scripture.

One of the scribes says to Jesus, “Jesus, what is the greatest commandment of all?” and Jesus says, “Love God.  And then love people.”

Jesus, out of all of laws – all of these rules that have been written down in scripture, all of the rules that we hold fast to every single day, all of the rules that define our religious tradition and our lives – what is the most important one?

Love God.

And then love people.

I actually talked about this scripture in my annual report last year.  I talked about how, in 2018, I really saw us, as a church, embody and live out Christ’s call to love God and then to love people.  Here is what I said:

And yet, through the grief and sadness of the losses we have experienced this year, I saw a church community that heeded the call to love God and to love the people around them.  From a choir that showed up at the Goff household so that Earl could have one last rehearsal to a Missions Committee who raised money for a scholarship fund for Cassandra Lumbra after the death of both of her parents this summer – love won at the Rehoboth Congregational Church, over and over and over again.

Love won every time someone brought a meal to someone in our church who was going through a hard time, when people sent letters to our two young men in military boot camp and when our Church School made valentines for people in our community who needed to be reminded that they are loved.  Love won when we cried together, when we prayed for one another and when, week after week at the end of worship, we joined hands together for the benediction.

We are a Greatest Commandment church.  We love God and we love people.  We are the Body of Christ, the Church in the Village.  And here, love always wins.

We are not even three months into the new year and these words still ring true.  Whether we were filling the sanctuary with paper stars and Mardi Gras beads for a festive celebration or gathering in the sanctuary in a space of grief for a funeral or memorial service, love won.  Whether we were outbidding one another for delicious desserts for a great cause or, again, bringing meals to someone who is going through a hard time, love won.  Whether we were singing joyfully or weeping quietly, we were doing it together and, again, love won.

I love this scripture because it is such a simple reminder of what is most important in life and in our life – that we love God and then we love the heck out of the people around us.  That is what matters, above all else; love wins.

I sheepishly admitted to Bruce yesterday afternoon as I was attempting to bake a cake for the dessert auction that I had approximately zero words written for my sermon this morning (actually I had a little over 300 that I had decided I was going to delete).  And he was surprised, because he knew what I was preaching about; he knows how much I love this passage and really of any opportunity to be reminded of Jesus’ commandment to love.

But the problem with preaching on this particular passage is that 1) I am kind of afraid that I am not going to be able to do it justice and 2) it kind of speaks for itself.

Love God.

And then love people.

So all that said – I do not really have one big point that I am trying to make today; rather I have three takeaways that have resonated with me this week as I have reflected on this passage.

The first has to do with just how often this passage of scripture is found in the bible.

Now I know what you’re thinking:  Once, right?  Right here.

Au contraire, my friends.  It actually shows up four times in the bible.

We are currently working our way through the Gospel of Mark; there are four gospels in the bible – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – they are the first four books in the New Testament.  These books are the recorded narrative of Jesus’ life and teaching.

Mark is the oldest – as well as the shortest; Matthew and Luke draw heavily from Mark’s narrative and John is very different from the other three.  So given the fact that 1) they are all telling the story about Jesus and 2) two of the Gospels draw heavily from Mark, it is not uncommon for there to be overlap between the four Gospels; in fact, it is a good, thing, right?  Because it sort of validates the stories – and our faith – when there is overlap between them.

But they are four different Gospels.

And yet, this scripture – this commandment to love one another – is found in all four Gospels.

This is how important it is.  No one missed it.

So technically, I have four favorite passages of scripture:  Matthew 22:35-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28 and John 13:31-35.

This one matters; this is one we need to prioritize in our lives and in our church.

The second takeaway that had me thinking this week has to do with where this scripture is found in the Gospel.

And I will say this about the Year of Mark – it has caused me think about context in a new way; because as I prepare to preach every week, I know what happened the week before and the week before that and the week before that and so on and so forth.  So as I thought about Jesus’ words that the greatest commandment was to love God and then love people, I also thought about what happened last week.

Jesus was being questioned by three groups of people who opposed him – the Pharisees, the Herodians and the Sadducees.  They were questioning him on religious and political points of contention; asking questions in a way that he really could not give a good answer to.  And so after hearing him answer questions about paying taxes and resurrection, a scribe who overheard these conversations runs up to Jesus and says, “Okay, but what is the most important law?”

Love God.

And then love people.

Jesus is in Jerusalem – the cross is on the horizon, the stakes are high and how he answers this question matters.  I think I would feel differently about this scripture if Jesus was still paddling around the Sea of Galilee with his disciples and they asked him; but it means more here.  It means more knowing just how many groups of people are opposing Jesus, just how desperately they are trying to hold on to their rules and their traditions.

And Jesus very calmly says, you have to let that stuff go.

And you have to love God.

And then love people.

The third and final takeaway I want to share with you all this morning has to do with the order in which Jesus tells us to love. Jesus says to first love God.  And then to love people.

One of the biggest reactions I hear to this commandment to love one another is, “Well that’s easier said than done.”  And it is; because we are human and we have these human relationships with one another and we do not always see eye to eye and sometimes we get frustrated with one another and sometimes that frustration escalates to anger and then that anger escalates to hatred and then we are left with this commandment to love one another and we have no idea how the heck we are supposed to do it.

Well I will tell you how.  We are supposed to first love God.  And thenlove people.

Now I am not sure how all of this works, but my understanding of faith and this relational notion of God is that if we first love God, then we will have the strength, the wisdom, the stamina, the patience and the grace to love one another.

So if you are having a hard time loving someone – whether it be a spouse or a friend or a family member or a coworker – love God first.  There is a reason that Jesus put this commandment in this order.

Because remember that when you love God, you are uncovering a kind of love that is powerful, unexplainable and grace-filled. When you love God, you are connecting to a love that triumphed over evil, over hatred and over death, itself. When you love God, you can believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that love always wins.

And then you can love people.

I love this scripture and I hope you do, too. I hope you heed the commandment to love God and then love one another.  I pray that our church continues to be a Greatest Commandment church; that we all might grow in our love for God and for one another, that our love might extend outside of our walls and that we might teach others about God’s love, as well.

Love God.

And then love people.

Thanks be to God!
Amen.

Preaching in Pumps Podcast Artwork

Redefining A Polarizing Narrative

I explained this in the sermon, but the timing of where we are in the Year of Mark is not totally lined up with the timing of where we are in the church year.  Technically we are already in Jerusalem – we skipped over the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, because we are going to read that in a few weeks on Palm Sunday.  So give yourself a minute, get yourself to Jerusalem and here’s my sermon from this past week!

Enjoy …

***

Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
March 17, 2019

Mark 12:13-27

Redefining A Polarizing Narrative

Shortly after I started in Rehoboth eight years ago, I was unpacking books in my office when I came across a stack of books on conflict management.  Someone saw that stack and said, “We don’t have any conflict here, you can get rid of those.”

Right.

Because a church that is comprised of and governed by 200+ individuals who all have their own thoughts, ideas and opinions never has any conflict.

I did not get rid of those books.

But here’s the thing – sometimes we talk about conflict as if it is a bad thing and yet, it seems to me that conflict is just a very human thing.  As imperfect human beings living in a very broken world, we are bound to come across individuals and groups of people who do not necessarily agree with us, right? It it normal; it is deeply embedded into our history as human beings; in fact, it is found in this morning’s scripture. In both of these stories Jesus finds himself in the middle of political and religious conflicts.

For those of you who love when I preach in a very casual and not-super-academic way, I apologize in advance, because in order to more fully understand this morning’s scripture reading, you kind of have to have a good grasp of the context of what is going on; so let’s start with a history lesson, shall we?

First of all, it is important to note that Jesus is in Jerusalem.  Over the past couple of weeks in our scriptures for the Year of Mark, he has been traveling and pointed towards Jerusalem, but in this morning’s scripture he has arrived.

Now – you might be wondering, when did he arrive? Did I miss it?  Well, yes, in fact, you did miss it; we all missed it because we actually skipped over it and will come back to it in a few weeks on Palm Sunday.

This is an example of where the Year of Mark and the church year don’t exactlyline up.  So chronologically in the Gospel of Mark, the whole narrative of Jesus triumphantly arriving into Jerusalem on a donkey while everyone waves palm branches has already happened.  We just have not read it yet, because it is our tradition to read it the week before Easter on Palm Sunday.

That is the first thing; so I will give you all a second to get yourselves to Jerusalem.

The second thing is that this scripture talks about three groups of people – the Pharisees, the Herodians and the Sadducees. These are different groups of people.

The Pharisees are a group of particularly observant and fairly influential Jews from around the 2nd century BC to the 1stcentury AD.  In the New Testament they are often painted in a negative light because they most commonly play the role of Jesus’ opponents.

The Herodians are not well known; in fact, they are only mentioned two or three times (depending on the translation) in the Gospel of Mark, once in the Gospel of Matthew and never in the Gospels of Luke or John.  They are likely followers of Herod Antipas, who was the tetrarch (or governor) of Galilee and Perea from 4BC to 39AD.  They are never talked about autonomously; they are always mentioned with the Pharisees and, together with the Pharisees, they oppose Jesus.

The Sadducees are a group of devout jews that we do not know much about; they are mentioned occasionally in the New Testament (not just in the Gospels, but in the book of Acts, as well) and they are often mentioned in conjunction with the Pharisees because they were lumped into this group of opponents of Jesus.  However, the Sadducees are markedly different from the Pharisees because their worldview is solely shaped by the Pentateuch (the first five books of the bible – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) and they do not believe in life after death.

The third piece of this scripture’s history that is important to understand is about the coin – the denarius – Jesus asks for in his exchange between the Pharisees and the Herodians.  A denarius it is a Roman form of currency, a reminder of the Roman domination that was happening during Jesus’ life.  This exchange between Jesus and these groups of devout Jews sheds light on the growing tension between the Roman and the Jewish authorities.

And here is where the conflicts arise.

In their own way, both of the exchanges in this morning’s scripture reading – first the exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees and the Herodians about paying taxes to the Roman Emperor and then the exchange between Jesus and the Sadducees about resurrection – are meant to trap Jesus.

If Jesus says to the Pharisees and the Herodians, no, you do not need to pay taxes to the emperor, then he will get in trouble with the Roman authorities; but if he says, yes, you do need to pay taxes to the emperor, then he will get in trouble with the Jewish leaders.

And similarly, when the Sadducees offer up a scenario in which a woman whose husband(s) dies then marries each of the subsequent brothers in the family tree (which is in accordance to Pentateuchal law, which, as I mentioned, their worldview is shaped by) and then ask Jesus, in resurrection, whose wife the woman will be, there is no right way for Jesus to answer this question because the Sadducees do not believe in resurrection in the first place.

So Jesus is kind of in a lose-lose situation here and any response he gives is likely to escalate the conflicts that already exist between these groups and Roman authorities; and yet, both of his responses are brilliant.  He does not give a simple answer to either one of the questions.  First Jesus asks the Pharisees and the Herodians whose face is on the denarius and then tells them to give to the emperor what belongs to the emperor and to give to God what belongs to God.  And then he questions the Sadducees understanding both of scripture and of the power of God.

In both of his responses, Jesus redefines the terms of the conversation.  He does not answer the questions directly, because they are not the questions that need to be asked.  Jesus says that there is no simple answer to these questions about human law and that, in fact, they are missing the whole point; that what is really important is not about right and wrong according to the human laws that we have written over time, but about God’s power in this world to do unexplainable and transformational things.

And this, I believe is the heart of true conflict management.

Jesus lives in a very polarizing world; we see this in our scripture today where the tension between the Roman authorities and the Jewish authorities is brought to the surface.  But when he is questioned about whose side he is on, Jesus essentially steps away from the polarization and says that what really matters is about something much bigger than any of us can fully grasp.

I would argue that today we live in an equally polarizing world; a world where the divides between our differences grow wider every day.  Unfortunately, in our world today we are not encouraged to learn from one another’s differences, but rather to stand starkly in opposition of them.

Over the past couple of weeks in the Year of Mark, I have been saying that the stakes are really high; that they are pointed towards Jerusalem, that the cross is on the horizon and that this is a matter of life and death.  And here’s the thing – sometimes I inadvertently say this as if the same is not true today.

But it is.

It is a matter of life and death.  This week, 49 Muslims were killed and 20 were seriously injured because a man chose to stand starkly in opposition of their beliefs and attack them in their space of worship rather than to learn from their differences.

This is the kind of world we live in today and it is very much a matter of life and death.  It is not that different from the world Jesus lived in.  Conflicts still define much of who we are; they threaten to divide us even further.

And whether we are talking about devastating global terrorist attacks or petty arguments that we might have with our families or our friends or within our own communities or with random strangers on Facebook, I think it serves us all well to be reminded of what really matters.

That God is here with us.  That what matters is not our law, but God’s law.  That it is more important to be faithful than to be right.

Kim Peranzi spoke eloquently at her husband, Lou’s, memorial service last week.  When talking about their strong marriage, she said something that stuck with all of us.  She said, “We loved each other more than we wanted to win an argument.”  And I loved that because it reminded all of us what really is important, not just in marriages, but in all relationships we have with other people.

And isn’t that what Jesus is saying here? That when we find ourselves in a conflict with another individual or group of people that we need to focus on what really matters; that instead of picking one side or the other, we need to step outside of the polarization and try to close the gap between the two sides.

That we need to put our faith and our trust and our hope in God and not our human rules and definitions of right and wrong.

That we should not try to untangle our human differences at the cost of people’s lives or even their happiness or their dignity.

That it is not about being right, but about being faithful.

That we may never have concrete or tangible answers to the questions we have about how to live our lives, because God’s presence and power surpasses our human understanding of how it all works.

That we can redefine the polarizing narrative of the world we are living in today.

The season of Lent is a penitential season that reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice; but even more than that, it is a journey that we are all invited to take, year after year.  A journey where we look at who we are, who we want to be and (perhaps most importantly) who God wants us to be.  A journey where we humbly confess the times when we have fallen short, ask for forgiveness and seek wisdom as we try to make amends and learn and grow from those mistakes.

And so this morning, I invite you to think about this Lenten journey as an opportunity to look at a conflict in your life – one part of your life where you currently stand starkly in opposition with someone or something (this can be something really big or really insignificant and petty).

And then think about what really matters.

And then try to step out of that conflict – even if it is just for a moment – and see what happens next.

I still have my stack of books on conflict management – although you might be encouraged to know that when I pulled them off the shelf for this morning’s sermon, there was a layer of dust on them.

But here’s the thing about these books – they are not meant to discourage or shame us in any way.  They are meant to reassure us of our own humanity – our broken humanity that sometimes needs a little bit of help to be made whole again.

So if you are facing conflict in your life – in your relationships, in your work, in your community or you are simply grieving the conflicts and brokenness in our own country and in the world today – I invite you, like Jesus, to step out of the polarization and see where God is leading.

We can redefine the narratives of the conflicts that exist in this world – big and small.  I firmly believe that.  But we have to ask the right questions.  We have to focus on what really matters.

May God be with us.  May God change our lives – and our world – in a way that is unexplainable but transformational.

Thanks be to God!
Amen.

Preaching in Pumps Podcast Artwork