Stop And Pray

Hi Friends!

Here is my sermon from last Sunday – Jesus praying in Gethsemane.  I have to admit that I was having a hard time not laughing every time I mentioned Peter, James and John falling asleep because all I could think of was that episode of Friends where Ross and Rachel got back together and she wrote him an 18 page letter (FRONT AND BACK) and he fell asleep while reading it and when they fought about it and Ross told Rachel he had fallen asleep and not finished the letter she said, “you fell aSLEEP?!”

Thankfully I know well enough to keep those thoughts to myself when I’m actually preaching.

Enjoy!

***

Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
May 12, 2019

Mark 14:26-42

Stop and Pray

When I came to RCC for my interview in 2011, I walked into the Sadie Perry Room and met the search committee in person for the first time.  The mood in the room was a graceful combination of nerves and excitement as I sat down and we began our conversation.

I do not remember exactly how this all transpired, but I do remember discussing how we were going to begin and what the interview was going to look like when Kim Chrystie interrupted and said, “Wait!  Aren’t we supposed to pray first?”  We all laughed and Kim became the first recipient of a pastoral gold star for being the only member of the search committee to remember, “The God stuff.”

We all forget – or neglect – to pray sometimes. We get caught up in what we are doing and it either slips our mind or we just do not think we have the time or it will even make a difference.

I am just as guilty of this as anyone.  I will hop from one task to another, trying to be as efficient as possible with my time and get to the end of the day and realize that I have not had any kind of meaningful conversation with God all day. Sometimes I might even think about prayer, but if I am in a tizzy about everything that I have to do, I usually think to myself, “I don’t have time for that,” and quickly move on to the next thing so I can get done what needs to get done.

I think some of it comes from growing up in the New England – particularly in these old congregationally-rooted churches. Prayer is not really something we did publicly or within the rhythm of our daily lives, it was something the pastor did during the somewhat-regimented-and-specific prayer time on Sunday mornings during worship. I do not think I ever just stopped to pray.

When I was a first-year seminary student, my mom called me one morning and said she needed to go in for a biopsy after a concerning mammogram.  I was on my way to class when I got the call; when I got there, I sat down next to a friend of mine and she asked how I was doing.  I told her about my mom’s biopsy and she quite literally dropped what was in her hands, grabbed my hands and said, “Let’s pray.”

It did not matter to this particular friend of mine that the room was full of students, TA’s and our professor getting ready for class to begin.  It did not matter that there were other conversations happening all around us. It did not matter that there were people sitting next to us who could see and hear what we were doing.  She saw me in a moment of need and she stopped to pray.

I guess we do have to remember that I was in seminary in the south, so the other hundred or so other people that were in the classroom with us that day were pretty enthusiastic prayers themselves and probably did not think what we were doing was all that weird, but still – that moment has always stuck with me.  Because it reminded me of just how important it is to stop and pray.

In those moments when we need strength.

In those moments when we need patience.

In those moments when we need wisdom.

In those moments when we need endurance.

In those moments when we need courage.

In those moments when we need motivation.

In those moments when we need inspiration.

In this morning’s scripture, we see this lived out in some of Jesus’ final moments.

The Passover meal is complete.  If you remember from last week, prior to Jesus gathering the disciples around the table for the meal, Judas had gone to the chief priests and agreed to betray Jesus.  The hour is drawing near.  Jesus does not have a lot of time left.

And so Jesus takes the disciples to the Mount of Olives.  He tells them that they will all desert him, which Peter is adamant is not true. Jesus responds to Peter by telling him that he, in fact, will not only desert Jesus, but that he will deny Jesus three times.[1]

The disciples still just do not get it.  They do not realize how important these moments are. We further see this when Jesus leaves the rest of the disciples and just takes Peter, James and John with him to pray. They reach a stopping point and Jesus tells the three men to stay there and stay awake while he goes ahead to pray and, bless their hearts, they fall asleep – not once, not twice, but three times.[2]

Peter, James and John are Jesus’ “inner circle,” so the speak.  They were the first three disciples that Jesus called at the beginning of the Gospel.[3]They were the only disciples present at the rising up of Jairus’ daughter, who was presumed to be dead in the fifth chapter of Mark[4], and at the transfiguration of Jesus, where he appeared on a mountain with Moses and Elijah in the ninth chapter.[5]  And yet, closest to Jesus, they still do not understand quite what is happening.  Did I mention they fall asleep?

But Jesus very much understands what is happening. And Jesus – the calm, cool and collected teacher and healer that we have seen up until this point – is, “distressed and agitated.”  He tells Peter, James and John that he is, “deeply grieved.”

Both the Gospels of Mark and Matthew record that Jesus goes to a place called Gethsemane in this story, yet the location of Gethsemane is not, exactly, known.  The Hebrew word, Gethsemane, however, means, “olive press,” which refers to the machinery that crushes olives with an intense force to make olive oil.  Some biblical scholars have speculated that the name, Gethsemane,might not refer to an actual place, but is symbolic of the intense pressure Jesus would face; a plot twist where the Son of God, who was anointed withoil before the Passover is now preparing not to be crowned king, but to be crucified.[6]

And what does Jesus do?  He stops and prays.

Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.[7]

Just because Jesus knows how it is going to end does not mean that is how he wants it to end.  We see in this moment the true depths of Jesus’ humanity.

I love Jesus’ intimate use of the word, Abba, which, of course, is the Hebrew term for father.  It brings full circle Jesus’ baptism, where God called down from Heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved,”[8]and also the Transfiguration, where, again, God called down from Heaven, “This is my Son.”[9]

But it also reminds me of the intimate nature of my own prayer life; that I do not have to have some perfectly crafted prayer in order to connect to God, but that, at any point throughout my day, I can just stop and cry out to God in the most jumbled mess of a way and know that God is listening to me and loving me.

Jesus says to Peter, James and John that his spirit is willing, but his flesh is weak.  And the same is true of all of us.  We want to be strong, we want to be faithful, we want to have all of the pieces of our lives put together, but we are human.  We are imperfect.  We are broken.

We will have moments when we need strength.

When we need patience.

When we need wisdom.

When we need endurance.

When we need courage.

When we need motivation.

When we need inspiration.

And it is in those moments that we need to stop and pray; that we need to – like Jesus – throw ourselves on the ground and pray intimately to God, our creator, redeemer and sustainer who knows us and loves us.  Because it is in those moments that God will give us what we need to get up and face the journey ahead.

And here’s the thing – it does not just need to be the big and defining moments where we stop and pray, either.  It can be the seemingly ordinary and mundane parts of our every day, as well.  What matters most is that we are inviting God into our narrative.

The third and final time Jesus finds Peter, James and John sleeping, he says to them, “The hour has come … Get up, let us be going.”

He is ready.

And we will be, too.

Jesus’ time in Gethsemane reminds us of just how important it is for us to stop and pray.  We may think that we are too busy or that we are not qualified to do so or we might just forget, but I promise you if you make this a priority – if you stop and pray – you will have the strength, patience, wisdom, endurance, courage, motivation and inspiration to face whatever comes next – the good, the bad, the big and the small.

As you leave the safety of this worship space today – the safety of a space that is designed for prayer, where you pray at intentional times in community – and enter a world that perhaps is not designed as nicely for prayer, I encourage to stop and pray.

Even if you think you are too busy.

Even if you can think of 17 other things that you could be doing.

Even if you are not really sure how to pray.

Even if prayer is not a normal part of your life and world.

Stop and pray.

Jesus did not try to do life without prayer; we should not, either.

Stop and pray.  You will be equipped for the journey ahead.

Thanks be to God!
Amen.

[1]Mark 14:26-31
[2]Mark 14:32-42
[3]Mark 1:16-20, though Peter is referred to as Simon in this passage, Jesus called him Peter, which means, “rock”.
[4]Mark 4:21-24, 35-43
[5]Mark 9:2-8
[6]Feasting on the Gospels: Mark: a feasting on the WordTM commentary / Cynthia A. Jarvis and E. Elizabeth Johnson, general editors © 2014 Westminster John Knox Press. Page. 471 (Exegetical Perspective)
[7]Mark 14:46, NRSV
[8]Mark 1:11
[9]Mark 9:7

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Strength. Nourishment. Restoration.

Hi friends – here is my sermon from yesterday. I was preaching on the last supper – conveniently timed with the first Sunday of the month, which meant that it was also Communion Sunday. As I reflected on the last supper during my sermon, I’m seriously considering revising our communion liturgy at some point this summer. I want to simplify the language and really remind us – myself included – why it is that we gather.

Enjoy …

***

Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
May 5, 2019

Mark 14:10-25

Strength. Nourishment. Restoration.

It has been two years since Bruce and I last planted a vegetable garden.  We were faithful for six years at the parsonage and then, in 2017, with Harrison’s pending arrival, we just could not pull it together.  Then last year, we were renovating our house and preparing the parsonage for sale and so, again, it just did not happen.

For two years, I frustratingly spent money on produce in the middle of the summer that I knew I could very easily grow myself. And so this year, finally settled(ish) into our new house and eager to get a garden started, we have found ourselves, on more than one occasion, wandering through the gardening section at Home Depot, Target and Walmart, dreaming about what this year’s garden will look like.

But here is the problem with spring.  I always find that I tend to be ready to plant things far sooner than the season and the weather is ready to have things be planted.

This cold and rainy spring we are having is currently exacerbating that problem.

And yet, I cannot help myself.

Which is how I ended up with seedlings all over my kitchen.

About 200 of them, actually.

Cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, basil and lettuce.

I did not realize when I was planting the seeds that so many of them would grow.

And you might recall from my Easter sermon that I have a cat that does not respect the agricultural boundaries that we put up in the house, so what this means is that we not only have trays of seedlings all over our kitchen, but we also have various stacks of cookbooks and children’s books that we are using as feline fencing (somewhat successfully, I might add!).

Much to my delight, though, growth is happening. In fact, last weekend, it became apparent that it was time to replant the zucchini, yellow squash and cucumbers into bigger containers.  On Saturday we replanted most of them until we ran out of soil.  We decided to do the rest the next day when we could go out for more.

But on Sunday morning, I came downstairs and realized that the remaining plants – the ones that we had not yet replanted, but that had been disturbed while we were replanting everything else and then not watered afterwards – did not look good.  They were wilted – the leaves were soft and lifeless.

I told Bruce that we had waited too long, that the plants were a lost cause.  First he looked around at the 40 other cucumber plants we had transplanted the day before and gently reminded me that, even if that was the case and the plants were dead, we still had some to spare.  But then he looked at me and he said, “Relax – they will come back.”

That afternoon, I was talking to a friend of mine from high school who is just as enthusiastic about her vegetable garden as I am about mine and I sent her a picture of what was happening with the wilted cucumber plants and she, like Bruce, said, “It’s okay – they will come back.”

So we transplanted the last of the cucumber plants.  And within the 30 minutes, they started to perk up.  The stalks got visibly stronger and the leaves re-gained their form and expanded.

All it took was some new soil and water.  Two things – two simple elements – gave these plants life again.

Guys, the same thing happens when we gather around the communion table.  All it takes is bread and juice.  Two things – two simple elements – give us life every time we receive them.

We have moved into the Passion Narrative in the Gospel of Mark and so the beginning of this morning’s scripture is the heartbreaking story of Judas’ betrayal.  Judas – one of the twelve disciples, one of the men Jesus called to be in ministry with him, someone who traveled with Jesus, who witnessed Jesus’ miracles and his healings, who Jesus taught, who Jesus probably trusted very much – goes to the chief priests – who we know from last week were plotting to kill Jesus – and agrees to help them.  In return, the chief priests promise to give Judas money.

Here’s the thing – none of this comes as a surprise to Jesus.  He knows that he is going to die.  We have read the entire Gospel up until this point so we know that Jesus foretold his death three times.  He knows that Judas was going to betray him.  In verse 18 of this passage, during the Passover meal, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.”  And not to spoil next week’s sermon or anything, but Jesus also knows that Peter is going to deny him three times.  He foretells this in the verses that immediately follow the passage we just read, verse 30.

Reading this story today, we know that it all comes to pass.  Judas betrays Jesus.  Peter denies Jesus three times.  All of the disciples abandon him.  Jesus is sentenced to death and crucified.

And yet here is the amazing thing about this story – Jesus invites them to gather around the table anyway.

In this morning’s reading, it is time for the Passover celebration, which is the religious festival that commemorates God’s deliverance of the Jews from bondage.  The term, Passover, comes from the Hebrew word, pesach, which is used in Exodus 12:13:  “I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you.”

The fascinating thing about how Mark chooses to portray this story is that the focus is not really on the Passover meal, itself, but on the institution of the Lord’s Supper, where Jesus takes bread and blesses it and breaks it and gives it to the disciples.  The language he uses here – “and after blessing it he broke it [and] gave it to them” – if you recall, is very similar to the language used in both of the loaves and fishes stories in Mark.  Jesus’ actions here draw to a conclusion these feeding stories. This is a poignant reminder that Jesus, who always had compassion for the hungry and offered them bread to eat, is now offering himself as the bread to feed, nourish and bless those who follow him.

Even if they are not perfect.  Even if they make mistakes.  Even if they are very much human.

Jesus knows that Judas is going to betray him, that Peter is going to deny him and that the rest of the disciples are going to abandon him.  And yet he shares this meal with them anyway.

Knowing what is about to happen, knowing the true depths of the disciples’ brokenness and also knowing the heartbreaking messiness that is about to ensue, Jesus invites them to join him for the Passover meal and to be nourished as they break bread together.

The most compelling part of the disciples’ story in the entire Gospel is that they messed up a lot.  They did not always understand what Jesus was asking them to do or what Jesus was trying to teach them.  They were influenced by the culture of the world they were living in. They tried to be faithful, but they also fell short, time and time again.

And yet, sitting around a table with one who had betrayed him, one who would deny him and all who would abandon him, Jesus broke bread and poured wine and shared it with them, offering them nourishment, hope and a new covenant.

This story teaches us that we do not have to be perfect to gather around the communion table; all we have to be is hungry.

And these two elements – these two simple elements of bread and juice – will nourish us, will give us new life, will make us whole again.

Even if we think that we have made too many mistakes.

Even if we think that we are not good enough.

Even if we think that there is no hope left.

Even if we think that there is no chance of redemption.

This communion meal will restore us.  We will be strengthened.  We will be given life again.

This story not only reminds us that it is okay if we are in place in our lives where we do not quite have all of the pieces in place, but it also assures us that there is hope, that we can and will be strengthened and lifted up every time we gather around the table with the Body of Christ and share this meal.

Communion is not just something we do because it’s the first Sunday of the money and that is what has always been done, communion is a gift that Jesus gave to us.  A gift that is available to us wherever we are on our journey through life.  A gift that we can partake in, not because we are strong, but because we are weak, not because we are whole, but because we are broken, not because we have answers, but because we have a lot of questions. A gift that will nourish us; that will strengthen us, that will make us whole again and that will help us find answers.

Like the stalks and the leaves on my cucumber seedlings that literally blossomed before my eyes with a little bit of new soil and some water, amazing things can happen within us when we gather around this table and share the simple meal of bread and juice.

So let yourself be strengthened.

Let yourself be nourished.

Let yourself be restored.

For Jesus invites all to gather around this table.

Thanks be to God!
Amen.

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Telling Stories Of Love

Hi friends!  I can’t believe May begins this week!  I am not really sure where the week went.

Even though it was the week after Easter and most of my friends were preaching Doubting Thomas, we were back in the Year of Mark this morning, actually beginning the Passion Narrative (which, yes, felt like 5 giant steps backwards considering we celebrated the resurrection last week, but also I am looking at it as a great way to get a resurrection do-over – ha!).

This sermon reflects on The Year of Mark and then talks about the stories we are telling and reinforcing in our lives.  I think sometimes we are inclined to focus on the negative, but if we look there are really amazing and grace-filled things happening in our lives!

Enjoy …

***

Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
April 28, 2019

Mark 14:1-9

Telling Stories Of Love

I have two things that I want to mention that are related to the Year of Mark and not specifically to this morning’s scripture reading before we get into this story about the woman anointing Jesus at Bethany.

The first is an observation about Holy Week – something that happened to me that I was not expecting.

I took it more personally this year.

Hearing the Passion Narrative – the story of the trial and the death and the burial of Jesus – was harder for me this year than it ever has been before.

I have been reflecting on this a lot over the past week or so and the conclusion I have drawn is that my feelings of discomfort have a lot to do with the Year of Mark – and not in a bad way, either! But for the past almost ten months, with the exception of a few weeks here or there, I have done nothing but preach about Jesus.

And I realize how ridiculous that sounds, because I am a Christian pastor and, after all, isn’t that what I am supposed to be doing?  But up until last July, I primarily followed the Revised Common Lectionary, which meant that every Sunday I had the option of preaching something out of the Old Testament, the Book of Psalms, the letters in the New Testament or the Gospels. And this meant that while sometimes I was preaching specifically about Jesus, other times I was talking more broadly about our faith and how it relates to other parts of the bible.

But we have been in the Gospel of Mark for almost ten months.  For ten months we have looked deeply at every piece of the Jesus story.  We have walked through his baptism, his healings and his teachings.  We have confused ourselves with his parables and bore witness to his miracles.  We have tackled some of the more challenging stories, ones that – truth be told – I would have likely avoided if they had come up in the lectionary (Jesus’ teaching on divorce and the demonic pigs comes to mind).

For almost a year, the Gospel has not been just been a passive fragment of my job, but an intimate part of my weekly routine – of our weekly worship services here at the Rehoboth Congregational Church.

And so it was hard to hear the story of Jesus’ death.

Because it felt very personal.

But here’s the thing – it should feel personal. As Christians seeking to live out the Gospel in our lives today, we should take that story personally.  It is, after all, the whole reason that we gather in the first place; the reason that we needed Jesus to walk on this earth in human form.

Which leads me to the second thing I want to mention before we get to the anointing of Jesus.  As strange as this seems – because we just celebrated Easter and proclaimed the good news of Christ’s resurrection – this week we are beginning the Passion Narrative in the Gospel of Mark.  From now until July 14th, we will hear the story of Jesus’ last moments on earth – the last supper, Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial, Jesus’ trial, Jesus crucifixion and the resurrection.

For many of you – if you have never attended our Maundy Thursday Worship & Service of Tenebrae – these may be stories you have never heard before.  And I won’t sugar coat it – some of them may be hard to hear.

But it is so important that we read them, that we talk about them and that we sit with the discomfort or the sadness that they may make us feel.  Because it is such a powerful reflection of the human condition, of the imperfections of who we are, as human beings; of the struggles we face and the burdens we bear.

After all, we cannot walk away from the hard stuff in our lives.

It is important to read these stories because, as human beings living in this world, we know that life is not always going to be perfect.  We know that we will face trials and adversity.  We know that we will feel pain and sorrow.  We know that there will be moments in our lives when will have to carry burdens that feel too heavy for us to bear.

But it is in this safe space that we create here in worship that we not only hear these hard stories, but also are reminded of the hope that grounds our faith – that resurrection is real, that love wins and that God is always with us.

Our spring all-church-read is called, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans.  She talks about the complicated nature of the bible and why we should lean into its complexities, rather than disregard it all together.

The Bible reflects the complexity and the diversity of the human experience, with all its joys and sorrows.

While we may wish for a clear, perspicuous text, that’s not what God gave us. Instead, God gave us a cacophony of voices and perspectives, all in conversation with one another, representing the breadth and depth of the human experience in all its complexities and contradictions.[1]

The Passion Narrative is complicated; but it is also such a richly defining moment of our faith.

At the beginning of Lent, I preached about my unfortunate affection for The Bachelor and how I love to read spoilers so I know what is going to happen before it actually happens.  I related this to Lent and to the Passion Narrative because, even though we know how the story is going to end, we still should allow ourselves to get caught up in the drama of it all.  And so this morning, as we prepare to finish the Year of Mark and preach through the Passion Narrative, I once again invite you to get caught up in the drama of this story.  Allow yourself to feel the complicated feelings that go along with hearing about people denying, betraying and killing Jesus.  Know that you are not alone and that, at the end of this experience, we will be reminded once that resurrection is real, that love wins and that God is always with us.

And here is my promise to you – I am going to keep it as light as possible for the next 11 weeks.  As we read this heavy story in worship over, we will sing our favorite hymns (hymns that will likely have little to do with the scriptures, themselves but that make us smile so if you have any requests, send them my way!), our prayers will be uplifting and our children’s sermons will focus on how we shine God’s light and share God’s love in the world.

So it won’t all be hard – I promise.

Let’s talk about this morning’s text.

Jesus is in Jerusalem.  In the 11thchapter of Mark, Jesus triumphantly arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey to shouts of, “Hosanna!” as crowds enthusiastically laid down a path of palm branches and cloaks for him.  He cleansed the temple – this was the story where he walked into the temple, which had turned into a marketplace, and he turned over tables and drove people out who were selling things.

In the 12thchapter of Mark, Jesus was immediately questioned about things like paying taxes, the resurrection and what the greatest commandment was (which was, of course, to love God and then love people).  Jesus denounced the scribes and then lifted up a poor widow, who did not have much to give, but donated all she had to the offering at the temple.

Then came the mini apocalypse in the 13th chapter, where we saw a different side of Jesus and he foretold the destruction of the temple.

And so now here we are.  The chief priests are the scribes are unhappy with Jesus, although, when we recap what brought us to this point, we kind of understand why they are so unhappy with Jesus.  He is not only challenging their authority, but also has a growing crowd of followers who are bearing witness to these challenges and to the message and ministry of Jesus, which has the potential to threaten their authority and their power.

Two days before the Passover, Jesus is in a place called Bethany in the house of a leper named Simon.  While he is there, a woman comes in with a jar of expensive ointment, which she pours on Jesus’ head as an anointing.  The other people who are in the house become very angry, because of how expensive the ointment is; they feel that the woman should have sold the ointment and given the money to the poor instead of wasting it on Jesus.

And Jesus responds:

Leave her alone; why do you trouble her?  She has performed a good service for me.  For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me.  She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial.  Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.[2]

Here is the ironic thing about what Jesus says here. “Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.  Jesus says, “In remembrance of her,” and yet, we know very little about this woman.  We do not know her name.  We do not know why she is at Simon’s house – if she came alone or if she came with a husband or if she even has a husband.  We do not know how she afforded such an expensive bottle of ointment in the first place.  We do not even know why she anointed Jesus.

And here is how scripture, like Rachel Held Evans says in her book, Inspired, reflects the complexity and the diversity of the human experience. Because in this story, what is the focus?  The fact that the chief priests and the scribes are plotting to kill Jesus and the fact that people are angry that the woman is wasting this expensive perfume. That takes up eight verses of this nine-verse passage.

There is only one verse talking about the fact that this unnamed woman is honorably and lovingly anointing Jesus.

But how often does that happen in our world today? We never hear about the good stuff – that hardly makes headlines.

We hear about the conflicts.  The drama.  The news that elicits feelings of fear and anger.

The stories that are the most compelling and inspiring and have the ability to really make people believe that a better world is possible often are not the stories that are told.

And yet, they are there.  Here in scripture, in the middle of angry people and powerful authorities plotting to kill Jesus, is a woman giving of herself, laying hands on Jesus and blessing him for the journey ahead.

We need to find these stories in our lives today. These are the stories that we need to tell.

I want to tell you about this year’s Easter Egg Hunt.

It was raining, so we had to move the event indoors, which was not ideal.  Parking was an issue, as always.  We hired a face painter, who was incredibly talented, but took 5-10 minutes with each child and ended up having to stay almost two hours longer than we originally anticipated.

There were so many children, parents and grandparents that I am fairly certain we broke several fire codes in Fellowship Hall. And, even though we tried to control the initial burst of people as much as possible, we still had a rush of kids in the front collect most of the eggs and some of the kids in the back did not get any eggs.

Allison got yelled at by some angry parents of children who did not get eggs.  And Bruce, who had tried to block off the handicap-accessible pew to contain our toddlers, got pushed to the side by a mom who let her kid run in and take the eggs.

It would be easy for me to end the story there – to leave you with that dramatic image and perhaps even elicit some sympathy for Allison and me.

And yet, embedded into the chaos of this morning is another story.  It is the story of our RCC kids – kids who come to this church and, week after week, are taught lessons from the bible and encouraged to live these lessons out through service to others – who saw that some kids did not get any eggs and gave some of theirs back so that everyone could go home with something.

These are the stories that we need to tell. Like the woman who gently blessed Jesus with ointment amidst threats and anger, embedded into the chaos of our world, there are stories; stories where God’s love is shared and hope is found.

When we read this story it is tempting to focus on the negative things – emphasizing the plots to kill Jesus or nitpicking what this woman should have done with her expensive oil.

But if we did that, we would be reinforcing the narrative of negativity and that is not what the Gospel is all about!  The Gospel is about love; it is about sharing God’s love with the world.  It is about shining light into this world and remembering that we are people of the resurrection.  It is about finding and telling the stories that give us hope, not the ones that elicit drama, create conflict and cause us to question the goodness of human kind.

And so I invite you all to spend the week finding these stories.  Find the stories, even if they seem insignificant, that put a smile on your face, that strengthen your faith and that make you think the world is going to be okay.  Find the stories where people bless Jesus and share God’s love with others.  Find the stories of compassion, of hope and of kindness. Find the stories that shine light onto the complexities and the diversities of the human experience

And then tell those stories.

Because when we do this love will win – over and over and over again.

Thanks be to God!
Amen.

[1]Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again © 2018 by Rachel Held Evans. Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Nelson Books, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, Nelson Book and Thomas Nelson are registered trademarks of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc. Pgs. 99 &103.
[2]Mark 14:6-9, NRSV

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