What is the pain and hurt you’ve experienced? Now I have learned that you can’t put an institution in the box, you can’t put the church in the box, you can’t put a business in the box or the government in the box. You’ve got to get specific here, who hurt you. People hurt other people-who has hurt you?
The reality of God’s love and grace is available to you, take off the mask. Accept that you are accepted. And when you do that, when we do that here in these walls, well then our work together is to unmask the injustices outside of these walls—To unmask the racism and the sexism and the homophobia in our culture—to unmask the atrocities going on at the border—to unmask the culture of guns and violence in our country—we are the ones to unmask the cruelty and carelessness and unchristian actions, because we follow a God who refuses to wear masks and play games and so do we.
God is bigger, higher, deeper, more powerful, more mysterious than anything you can imagine. Some will tell you that’s why you shouldn’t question God. I’m saying that’s why you should. God is big enough, high enough, deep enough, powerful enough, and mysterious enough to handle your questions. And the Bible is good enough to guide you as you encounter that God.
Everybody has the power of God within them and everybody can be a way through which God’s dreams are shared, everybody can be a way through which God’s dreams come true. Do you follow me: I’m talking about you and I’m telling you to dream dreams. You are a way through which God’s dreams are shared, you are a way through which God’s dreams come true.
Look, if you think you can’t change your mind, scripture makes two things clear: first, yes you can…you can change your mind, yes with God’s grace we have the capacity to change our minds, and second: the faithful God-fearing thing to do is to not be the one to exclude someone from the table because in the words of apostle Peter: Who are you to hinder God?
Denying our identity as disciples of Jesus is a major problem with Christianity in America today. If all the Christians in this so called “Christian nation’s” identity was in Christ, there wouldn’t be children in cages at the border and there wouldn’t be racist language in our politics and there wouldn’t be such a big and ever growing gap between rich and poor.
When Moses notices the burning bush he could have said, “oh wow look at that,” and just kept going with his sheep. Or “that’s interesting but I don’t have time to check that out, I have an agenda to keep, I’ll come back later.” Or he could have been busy looking down at his phone and glanced up and thought, meh, and gone back to the captivating cat video he was watching.
Has this ever happened to you? You see a problem that needs to be solved but you can’t solve it by yourself? So you let your manager know and they agree but then you wait for change? And you wait and wait and wait. You have gotten agreement but what you really wanted was change. In our scripture today James is saying that if you agree on who Jesus is then there will be a change.
You are covered by Grace. Maybe you don’t believe you are covered, maybe you feel like you’ve done something along the way and your coverage got dropped.
No, you are still covered; so you messed up, so you think you aren’t worthy of coverage, maybe you’ve forgotten that this isn’t a divine points game, this isn’t about earning or achieving. I mean the rest of the world is into that but God isn’t into that and we know that because of Christ crucified, because through him, success is redefined - weak is the new strong, the way up is the way down.
We may disagree on the issues, we may have conflict with one another, but we never ever stop seeing one another as brothers and sisters.
The pull of tribalism is strong now...it is strong and it is trying to influence us to treat one another as less than human beings, it is trying to get us to name call and to have closed minds and mean spirits…but it is no match for the power of Christ that is present at this table and in this bread and cup that compels us to love our neighbor.
Pastor Blair woke up with laryngitis on Sunday morning, so she reworked her sermon. In addition to her raspy voice, you'll hear testimonies from Pastor David and Kelly Carpenter and have time to reflect on your own response to the question: 'What would going on 'all in' with Jesus look like in my life?'
Whatever it is in your life that is coming in at you from all sides, do not settle in...stand in and stand up! God's grace is here today for you: receive it, believe it, experience it, bask in it, walk in it, run it it, you are made for connection, you are made for community, you are made for this moment, you are made to be a blessing.
There is always some distance between where we are and where God wants us to be. It is always a climb from where we are to where God wants us to be but the view God wants to show us, it is so so good, so spectacular.
Our tradition calls this journey from where we are to where God wants us to be sanctification. God is calling us to become more like Christ. In order to move from here to there we have to be willing to move from what we know. We have to move from the comfortable, the familiar, the way we have always done things, the person we have always been, we have to move from our plans, our trajectory, our vision and go where God is calling us to go - which is up the mountain.