Saturday, September 29, 2018

19 Pentecost Proper 21 Yr B Sept 30 2018

We enter the gospel of Mark today in the middle of this hard teaching about what it means to follow Jesus. This is the bread and butter of the gospel, wrapped around the Transfiguration story. Mark doesn’t waste a single word as he shows us what this life of following Jesus looks like. What matters to Mark is not who is first or who is last. What matters to Mark is not who is casting out demons in anyone’s name. What matters to Mark is that you follow Jesus all the way to the cross and empty tomb, even though the disciples had a lot of trouble doing that themselves. What matters to Mark is that you follow Jesus all the way to the cross and through the resurrection, and that in the doing, Jesus’ love matters, your love matters.

Remember last week we heard the hard teaching about what it means to be great, and that greatness doesn’t look anything like what we think it looks like in our world, or in Jesus’ world. Mark continues to show us, through Jesus’ disciples, that following is hard. It seems like the disciples keep on stumbling. Jesus has to keep on showing them what following looks like. Jesus puts a child on his lap and tells them that following him looks like this. Mark shows us that those who seek out power are not followers, but those like this child and those who serve, are followers. But the disciples are not really getting what Jesus is saying, and as you and I overhear this conversation, we may wonder why Jesus can be so harsh. Jesus told them of the importance of welcoming the little ones; now he warns of what will happen if they act hostilely toward those same little ones. Jesus takes several runs at explaining the perils of acting scandalously. Jesus talks about the cost of harming people with lies and innuendo. Jesus says this over and over and it feels almost like we’re getting hammered just like those who were hearing Jesus for the first time. But the repetition serves to drive home Jesus’ warning vividly.

Jesus states three times that losing a scandalizing member is preferable to gaining a place in the eternal fire. Mark has warned previously that we must lose ourselves in order to find the fullness of our life in God’s love, and that metaphor in Mark becomes very concrete right here. Hands, feet, and eyes are lost so that one’s self is not.

This seems a little exaggerated, a bit like hyperbole, don’t you think? Really Jesus? Cutting off a limb, losing something as important as an eye, is better than losing my self? But the trouble is, it’s a short trip from deciding Jesus really doesn’t mean what he says and that what Jesus says is really to hard to do, to deciding that someone who speaks their truth is just making it up. Or just maybe overstating something that may have happened, possibly, but not really believable. We do it with our children; maybe that’s why Jesus is using a child to teach this to the disciples. We tell them not to exaggerate or we’ll stop believing them, we call that crying wolf. Hyperbole becomes the convenient excuse to stop listening, to stop believing, to question the veracity of the claims, claims that take an extraordinary amount of courage to utter.

Twisting, turning, tying up the truth, happens now as much as it happened with Jesus’ disciples, and this is the truth that Mark is trying to tell us. We don’t want to hear it, Peter never wanted to hear Jesus tell him the truth, every time Jesus told Peter that the son of man would be put to death, Peter said no, no, that could not happen. But this is what is right in front of us.

But there is also so much grace, so much good news in Mark’s gospel. The truth, the grace, is that following Jesus is about love that is brave, and courageous, and fierce. Jesus is brave, and courageous and fierce in Mark’s story. Jesus keeps at the disciples so that they may believe that it is in living in love, it is living in truth, honesty, integrity that matters. And, life is best lived when we fully and completely embrace the truth that love wins. You see, God in Christ came to be with us and for us, to take on our life and our lot that we might not simply persist, but flourish, not simply have life, but have it abundantly, that we might understand that the God who created and still sustains the vast cosmos not only knows that we exist, but cares. Cares about our ups and downs, cares about our hopes and disappointments, cares about our dreams and despair, cares about all the things we care about, promising to be with us, to walk alongside us, to never, ever let us go, and in time to bring us into the company of saints.

It is best, Jesus says, to love and to live fiercely, bravely, and courageously in the company of others who live and speak the truth. Jesus keeps telling the disciples and us, that it is in dying to selfishness, dying to greed, dying to arrogance and boastfulness, that we are raised to abundant life. A life that is connected, a life that is great, a life that is worth living. And that is exactly what Jesus tells the disciples. Live this life, live it fully and completely, and the gospel writer Mark shows us that it won’t be easy, this kind of love, this kind of truth, this kind of courage, comes at a cost, and the cost for Jesus is his life.

Jesus’ love matters, your love matters. And you do it all the time, you followers of Jesus, you disciples, you courageous ones. You take care of each other better than any group of people I’ve ever met. You show up and you stand up for each other. You are so generous with your money and with your love as you support our own families in need. Jesus’ love matters, your love matters, you courageous ones. You love and support one another when babies are born and when loved ones die. You have stood by each other when conversations have been difficult; you love each other even when it is easier to leave. You are rock stars.

And I want to challenge you to even more. I want you to help people who are not here yet, to find what you have found. I want you to courageously carry this love that wins into the difficult conversations that are happening in our families and our community. I want you to speak truth to power and be carriers of justice and mercy. I want you to change the world, or your little corner of it. I want you to follow Jesus into the difficult places, the difficult conversations, and the unfair and unjust systems. Not only do we remove stumbling blocks, but we create safe places, and opportunities for people to know that truth matters, and love wins. Amen.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

18 Pentecost Proper 20 Yr B Sept 23 2018

What does it mean to follow Jesus, for those who were Jesus’ friends in this story, and for us today?

We are in the heart of Mark’s gospel; Jesus and the disciples are on a journey that will end in Jerusalem, the place where Jesus is killed. Jesus has told the disciples once already, this is the second time Jesus says to them that he will be killed, and the third time Jesus tells them is further along the path. Every time Jesus and those who were following him pass through Galilee, we are alerted that Jesus is trying to teach them something, and us as well. They are on a journey of discovery, and as they journey Jesus tries very hard to keep them away from the crowds who are beginning to amass, so that Jesus can care for them.

So lets take a look at a couple of important details in these few verses. First, Jesus is to be betrayed. The gospel writer Mark is rather harsh; we know that because we’ve been reading this story for some time now. Mark writes that Jesus will be betrayed into human hands, and that Jesus suffers at the hands of the Jewish elders, those who were powerful, and maybe even considered great. And secondly, further down the road, Jesus hears his friends bickering, and finds out they are arguing about who of them is the greatest. As way of illustration, Jesus picks up the child and teaches them about greatness, about welcoming, about what it means to be a follower. Now you all know that this sounds crazy. Children had no power, no greatness. Children were of no account. Oh, of course, their parents loved them, but they had no rights, no influence, no standing. They were utterly dependent, utterly vulnerable, utterly powerless. So how could caring for a child count as greatness? It’s crazy.

The trouble is that it seems we haven’t changed much in all these years. We’re still wondering about what constitutes greatness. Is greatness measured by power and wealth? Is greatness measured by the ability to control people? Is greatness about being first so that others may be last? We hear this definition of greatness pretty consistently by some leadership in government and business. Is greatness measured by where one sits at the table? Is greatness measured by winning and losing? Is greatness measured by fame? Is greatness a competition? Is the person who wins the game, the football game, the tennis game, the basketball game, great? Is the person who wins the bachelor’s heart, or the amazing race, or America’s got talent, great?

What if we stop defining greatness like all of that, and start measuring greatness like Jesus shows us? What if we imagined that greatness wasn’t about power and wealth and fame and all the rest, but instead we measured greatness by how much we share with others, how much we take care of others, how much we love others, how much we serve others. What kind of world would we live in? Can you imagine if people were regularly trying to out-do each other in their deeds of kindness and service? If there were nationally broadcast competitions to see who was willing to be last so that others could go first? If there were reality TV shows that followed people around as they tried to help as many people as possible? What kind of world would we live in? I don’t know about you, but I think it would be a pretty great world.

The definition of greatness Jesus offers seems crazy initially because it is so completely, utterly counter-cultural. Jesus calls us to imagine that true greatness lies in service by taking care of those who are most vulnerable – those with little influence or power, those the culture is most likely to ignore. And what if this is what it means to follow Jesus? True greatness, is vulnerability. True greatness, is foolishness. True greatness, looks to the world like loss. Jesus looks to the world like loss. Jesus says he will be betrayed, and killed, and rise again. And in doing that, Jesus transforms the world; Jesus transforms us. Jesus shows us that in God’s kingdom, letting go is freedom, and greatness is in service to the ones God loves. Jesus shows us that those whom society throws away, are brought to the center of God’s love and life.

Those who welcome a child, welcome me. Jesus does not say, those who welcome those in power, welcome me. Jesus does not say, those who welcome the wealthy, welcome me. Jesus does not say, those who welcome only those who look like me, welcome me. Jesus says, greatness is measured by welcoming the one who has no power, serving the one who is on the fringes, healing the one who is hurt.

What if this became the measure of greatness in not only our church lives, but also our social lives and our community lives? What if this became the measure of greatness in our government? What if we share the love that wins to change the rules, so that those on the margins are brought into the fullness of the community. What if we share the love that wins in service to the broken hearted. What if we share the love that wins in service to those who have been kicked out, not listened to, or shamed for their truth.

What if we took Jesus seriously? “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” What if we approached our neighbors with kindness and generosity, trusting that each and every life, each and every story is precious in God’s sight? I believe greatness is in vulnerability, greatness is in giving, greatness is in gratitude.

We’ve been talking about intentionality in practice. That following Jesus is about what we do each day, each hour, each moment. Three things I leave with you today a practice that comes from the wisdom of Ann LaMott. Three prayers, Help, Thanks, Wow.

Lord, help. In our time of desperation, in our time of need, help us to follow you, to see you, to hear you.
Lord, thank you, all that I am, all that I have is not mine, but yours.
Wow, this creation is amazing.

Help, thanks, wow. Amen.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

17 Pentecost Proper 19 Yr B Sept 16 2018

Taking the August calendar page off the wall, I paid attention to the funny illustration on the page. There is a group of men in a boat, disciples I imagine, watching a character whom I assume is Jesus, walking on the water. The dialogue bubble over the guys in the boat says, "Sure, he can walk on water, but does he really fit our parish profile?"

The way of following Jesus is so very different from the way of getting ahead in this world.

The trouble in our text from Mark today is that people, Peter for example, are confused about who Jesus is. Peter calls Jesus Messiah, but when Peter uses that term for Jesus, he doesn’t mean the Jesus whom we have come to know in this gospel and the others, he means one who will come in power to sit on the throne and set up a new kingdom after sending the Romans running. You see, Peter seems to have mistaken Jesus for someone Jesus is not. And with that mistake, Peter may be putting God in box of expectation and limit. Jesus is saying, “you’ve got it wrong Peter, you are so very misguided.” Peter seems to have knowledge here, but no wisdom.  But Jesus goes on with wisdom Peter has not yet experienced, “to follow me, you must deny yourself,” and you must “lose your life to save it.”

We do like Peter does all the time, don't we? We look for the one who will save us, who will get us out of a mess. Or maybe the one who will make life easy for us, who will tell us what to do and how to do it so that we can be successful, or so that we can enjoy the accolades, so that we can enjoy the notoriety that comes along with showing off our wealth, or our talent, or whatever it is we have. But that’s not really the way it works, no matter how much we wish to be saved from the difficulty of the situation, life just doesn’t work that way.  We put God in a box that makes Jesus into a magician. We expect God to act in a particular way, a way of power, power that can stymie storms, hush hurricanes, ? We expect Jesus to act in a particular way, and the Jesus who gets angry and even curses, is not a Jesus we may be comfortable with.

But the truth of our lives speak about the path of pain and suffering, you and I both know that. The truth of our lives speak about the path of poor decisions, misplaced trust, so called "love" gone horribly wrong. The truth of our lives speak about the effects of the ravages of disease. And there is no one and nothing that can just swoop into any of that and make it all pretty.

But the grace in this gospel is not about being successful, or happy, or even physically healthy; it is about being foolish. Foolish in the eyes of the powerful, foolish in the ways of the world, foolishness that brings new life. This foolishness is about laying down whatever is killing us, and picking up what brings new life. The grace in this gospel is that you are created in God’s image, and in God’s image you are imbued with God’s divinity.

Peter shows us that the way of following Jesus is so very different from the way of getting ahead in this world.

And the foolishness of the gospel points to life after death. The foolishness of the gospel points to hope rising out of the ashes of despair. The foolishness of the gospel points to crashing and burning followed by baby steps of recovery. The foolishness of the gospel shows us that there is always resurrection, but resurrection never goes around pain and suffering, resurrection is only on the path of pain and suffering.

Today's gospel reading is all about this path, this pilgrim path. It is all about being a follower of Jesus. This path doesn't result in success. This path doesn't result in ease of living. This path doesn't result in the absence of disease. It is not a gospel of prosperity. This path, Jesus says, is to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, and follow.

Now, just in case any of you hear that as a call to suffer in silence, or just take what the world throws at you, or even taking abuse at the hands of the one who professes to love, that is not what this is about and it is not what I am saying. This gospel has been used as a weapon to keep people in their place with that kind of interpretation, but this is not what Jesus is talking about. Jesus is talking about the new creation, Jesus is talking about reorienting the culture as we know it, Jesus is talking about being the change that makes the world just, Jesus is talking about the kingdom that is God’s love for all of creation, no exceptions, no exclusions. Jesus is saying that Love wins.

Actually, the pilgrim path, the path of discipleship, isn't about the results at all. That's really why the path of discipleship is radical. That's why the path of discipleship is counter-cultural. Jesus is saying that we indeed must lose our lives to save them. But what looks to the world like loss is not loss at all. You see, on this path of discipleship, new life is what we live on the way. On the path of discipleship, we lay down our selves for the sake of the kingdom, we lay down our selves for the sake of compassion, mercy, healing, justice. Indeed, these are the characters we encounter on the path of discipleship.

And, the path of discipleship isn't about you at all. The path of discipleship is about God's healing mission in the world. When we walk this path with all the others, with the community of disciples, we bear witness to God's love and healing in this hurting world. We make real to the world that Love wins. We are not in the business of persuading others of the truth of the gospel story through propositional argument. When we are on the path of discipleship, we are rather about the work of living out this story that is true, this story that makes sense of our lives.

But there is more. This path of discipleship is about breaking bread with outcasts and sinners, healing the sick, and proclaiming good news to the poor. It is about changing the structure of this world to be justified with the rule of God’s kingdom. It is about putting the other first, and ourselves second. It is about speaking truth to power.

As Episcopalians we make a unique proclamation as we follow Jesus on this path. People make that proclamation on our behalf when we are baptized, and each time we baptize a new member.

We reflect on Scripture, the apostles' teachings, communal prayer, and life lived in connection with breaking bread together. Mission is the work of God, who was sent into the world and sends us into the world. We bear Jesus into the world. Mission and outreach are holistic. We seek to meet the needs of the whole person, spiritual and physical. We proclaim in voice and in action the good news of God's kingdom. We teach, baptize, and nurture all those who seek Jesus. We respond to human need by serving others. We transform unjust structures of society. We seek sustainable and renewing initiatives that redeem not only humanity but the creation in which we live. Our outreach and mission are always rooted in Scripture, tradition, and reason. We make a greater witness to the world around us when we join hands with one another whether we agree with them or not. We are changed by serving and walking with others. We are incomplete without others, those who are different from us, by our side. We are loved, absolutely and abundantly.

This is indeed what makes sense of our lives. It is the particular story which gives meaning to the chaos of a world ruled by powers and principalities. It is the particular story which gives meaning to our lives. It is what we have been given by Jesus and it may very well be foolish, but it is the truth that Love wins.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

16 Pentecost Proper 18 Yr B Sept 9 2018

Mark 7:24-37

Just close your eyes and imagine this story. Jesus went away to a region in Tyre to get away from everyone. Maybe he’d been walking all day, his feet were dirty and sore, his back was killing him, all he wanted to do was find a comfortable bed and take it easy for a while. While he was imagining the wonderful foot wash and nap he was going to have, a woman approaches him. Not a Jewish woman, who knows her place, who would have known better than to talk to a Jewish man in public, but a Gentile woman, a Syrophoenician at that, a woman so very far outside of Jesus' neighborhood. This story shows us a Jesus that we may not want to like, but this encounter that we read this morning between Jesus and this particular woman is an encounter that changes Jesus’ ministry.

Now this woman who in her time and place had no right to speak to Jesus, or any man, just by opening her mouth and speaking, makes a claim on Jesus’ time and power. Jesus recognized her, she’d approached him before about healing her daughter, and I think he wished she’d just go away and let him rest. So as soon as she said something to him, he barked back at her. We've all done that ourselves, I know I’ve done it. So hot and tired, so sore and thirsty, or even just at the end of your patience, anybody bothers you and you're quick with a curse. But just by responding to her, even in the cruel way he did, Jesus affirms that she is there, he affirms her presence. This is a profoundly counter-cultural encounter. But Jesus, tired as he may have been comes up with the worst insult imaginable at the time.

“I’ll feed the children before I feed you,” and then he called her a dog. Now the reason this was so awful was that Jewish home would never have a domestic dog in it. Remember last week we talked about things impure and unclean? Dogs were unclean, impure. He insulted her and everyone she was related to with that one. Her comeback was quick. She gets right in his face and reminds him that even the dogs eat the children’s crumbs. This is quite a show of verbal sparring, not unlike some we've heard recently. But with that, Jesus has been bested. Jesus heals her daughter, and eventually went on to heal the deaf man. Jesus doesn’t get the rest he's been seeking however.

What we have here is a classic literary tool filled with wordplay and juxtaposition. The writer of the gospel sets this up so that there is opposition between the “children”, who in this story are the Jews, and the “dogs,” who are the Gentiles. The woman in this story showcases not only her debating skills, but her faith. She dares to take his metaphor and turn it back on him. “Children get fed before the dogs? You’ve got that right. But even the dogs get to eat the children’s crumbs; even the pets get the scraps that fall from their master’s table!” She is arguing that even on his own terms, there should be something from him, some scrap of grace, for someone like her who comes to him in faith. She challenges Jesus.

This is all to say that her role in Jesus’ mission is utterly important. It is her willingness to engage Jesus, to challenge and question him that causes him to see that it is not just the Jews that he has come for, but the Gentiles as well, for all people. She calls him to the mission of inclusivity. Where the traditions of the elders and the religious law could see only an outcast, Jesus finally sees the woman’s heart of faith. He heals her child. From this point on Jesus does not hold his saving power in reserve but expands the circle of God’s mercy to include those once considered outsiders. Jesus opens himself to the whole world in mission. He welcomes all who put their faith in him. It is at this very point that Love wins.

This is a story of Jesus' change of mind. Previously Jesus thought his work was only with the Jews. She challenged Jesus and he changed his mind. I think this portrait helps us to see Jesus’ full humanity. I think this shows us that Jesus is moved to mercy, Jesus is in fact affected by the affairs of our lives, this story reveals Jesus’ compassion and true humanity.

The result of this encounter is that there are no outsiders. Jesus opens himself to the whole world in mission. The woman in this story encountered Jesus and challenged him to include all people in his mission. Therefore, God’s love and mercy are available to each and every person. There is no one outside of the circle of God’s love and mercy. These are powerful words. But do we take them seriously? Do we even believe them? First and foremost this means that you are not outside of God’s love and mercy. In a world where you have to be good enough, fast enough, slender enough, rich enough, to share in the rewards of our culture, it is nearly impossible to believe that you already receive God’s love and mercy without having enough of anything. In a world where you can change anything about yourself, a nip and tuck here and there, a new wardrobe, an extreme makeover, there is nothing you can do to make yourself any more desirable to God. In a world where you can be an American Idol, you can dance with the stars, you can show yourself off in America’s got talent, or even be a Super hero, right here in God’s midst, who you are is just right, just enough for God’s love and mercy.

The woman in our story today challenged Jesus to expand God’s mission to you and to me, but it is up to you and to me to respond to God’s love and mercy in ways that will bear fruit. Our response to God’s love and mercy will bear fruit when we act in the same way Jesus acts in this story. When we make room in our lives for those who are not ordinarily a part of our circle of friends, like the woman Jesus encountered, we do bring to the center those who are on the margins, we do encounter differently those we don’t like very much, we bear the fruit of the Kingdom of God, and we participate in bringing that Kingdom closer.

I think that's what we hear in the reading from James. It is a combination of faith and works that is our response to God's love. It is not just faith, it is not just works, it is the balance of both that is our response to God's love. Do not ever be mistaken that there is a particular amount of faith gets you closer to God, in into heaven, or whatever reward it is you want. Do not ever be mistaken that serving others without regard for yourself gets you a seat next to Jesus. It is entirely the other way around. God loves you, no matter what. God loves you, absolutely and abundantly. God has faith in you. God is working on your behalf. That is what the Syrophoenician woman shows us.

That is why we are who we are, that is why we do what we do, we respond to God's call, God's call of love, God's call of mercy, God's call of compassion.

All are loved, all are welcome, in this place, at this table, we must remember that whether we think we are worthy or not, all are welcome, we must remember that whether we agree or disagree all are welcome, we must remember that whether we think others are right or wrong, we are all welcome. Love wins.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

15 Pentecost Proper 17 Yr B Sept 2 2018

Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23

If it is from within, from the human heart that evil intentions come, then it is from God that all lovely, beautiful, and creative intentions come. And is this not a most beautiful world when we live together in love, beauty, and creativity. This is God’s dream for humanity, for us. But the gospel writer Mark shows us the trouble in Jesus’ time and place of misplaced intentions, misappropriated laws, misspent desire, and the disastrous consequences that result.

The traditions and laws that Mark refers to were in place to really bring order into chaos, they kept people and things in expected and predictable ways. The traditions were intended to serve as a “fence around the law” to preserve its function by protecting the law from careless or inadvertent violations. The traditions and laws were not bad unto themselves. They had meaning and purpose and were closely held by the Jewish people of Jesus’ time. Also, by observing these traditions and laws, you were identified as one of the group. They kept the order, they kept the lines of who’s in and who’s out very clear. Because the consequences of not being one of the group, the consequences of breaking the law or breaking with tradition was to be relegated to the margins, to be thrown out of the family, to be unprotected. No one wanted that, and not only was there much comfort in doing what had always been done, you could lose your life if you didn’t.

Aren’t we all looking to be identified as one of the group, whatever group that may be? Being one of the group is as important today as it ever was in first century Judaism. Whether or not we know it, we do it all the time. We wear our Packer attire so that we may be identified as a Packer backer, who wants to be a purple people eater in a sea of green?

But of course it goes so much deeper than that. Identity, and identifying with a group is at the core of our social lives. So much of our time is spent keeping people in or keeping people out. Bullying is about keeping someone out, keeping someone from identifying with your group. Any difference between you and the group the bully is in or even leads is a warrant for verbal jabs and physical barbs so that you know very well that you do not measure up, you do not fit in, you are not one of them, you are different. Gangs are about identifying with a particular group and there are very specific and often violent ways you gain access to the group. Identity is something we talk about a lot, and we say, no one should be threatened or punished because of their identity. What makes it hard, or maybe different from the traditions and the laws of the early first century is that those laws and traditions were clear, you knew where the fence was, and you knew when you jumped the fence and exactly what the consequences were for jumping the fence. It was the difference between chaos and order for them.

Our conflicts today are not much different, who’s in who’s out, who is like us, who is not like us. And our conflicts are often attributable to a zero sum game, which means there are always winners and losers. One of the differences between us and the first century Mediterranean world is that our fences are not clear like they were then. We are an enlightened people, and we think we have come far regarding the things that separate us, the things that identify us, race, religion, language, gender. But if we as a country were to be truly honest, we would see that its not that our fences are not as clear, it’s really that we don’t talk about them much, and that causes stress, anxiety, and sometimes hatred and violence.

But the good news in this text, and there is good news, is that the list; fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly, all of these misplaced intentions, misappropriated law, misspent desire, is not what God dreams for us. Jesus says, “there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” I think what Jesus may have been trying to say is that our identity is beloved children of God. And as God’s beloveds, we are imbued with grace and with spirit. God fills us with love, and with life, and with worth. And there is no one left out, the fences we build have absolutely nothing to do with God’s love for us.

We need to remember also those laws and traditions were meant to keep people healthy and well, in some ways they are very practical. But when upholding the laws and traditions are the goal, when the fences are built to keep people out, they become a distraction away from the reality that God loves, no matter what. And this is sin. We don’t talk much about sin in our culture anymore, but here it is.

Sin is missing your mark. You see, God fills us with love, and with life, and with worth. Following Jesus is loving God, loving our neighbor, and showing it, so sin is when we miss our mark, sin is when we break our relationships with God, with Jesus, with others, and sin is the resulting brokenness of our lives and our world. You see, Jesus shows us the way with his life, Jesus shows us the way by giving his life in love, and we hear the words, “forgive them, they do not know what they do.”

Jesus says, “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come.” The whole list of evil is about broken relationships, broken hearts.

Humanity is created to be in love, to be in relationship with one another and with God. That is our identity, that is what makes us who we are. There is no fence around us keeping us in or others out. Our identity is found in Jesus, the one who lives, loves, suffers, dies, and is risen. Our identity is found in the relationship of creator, redeemer, spirit. Our identity is found in the reality that we sin, we miss the mark, our hearts are broken, and we are nevertheless, forgiven.

And the difficulty of this truth is that in God’s kingdom everyone matters. No one is to be thrown out or thrown away. There are to be no fences, we may divide people up by arbitrary differences, but God does not. And forgetting that is our sin. Never forget, that in God’s kingdom, God’s dream for us, for humanity is to be lovers, to be kind, compassionate. Never forget, that in God’s kingdom, God’s dream for us is that despite our tendency to miss the mark, to sin, we are filled with love, beauty, worth. Never forget, that in God’s kingdom, love always wins. Amen.

Feast of Pentecost Yr A May 31 2020 (Sunday after the murder of George Floyd, riots in Minneapolis)

YouTube video Feast of Pentecost Yr A May 31 2020 (Sunday after the murder of George Floyd, riots in Minneapolis) Acts 2:1-21, 1 Co...