The Beginning of Transformation: One Sermon to Go with the Road unfurling

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I am rather pleasantly surprised to see the circle of fellow travelers who peruse my blog..

For that, I am thankful.

For that, I thank all of you my readers.

My journey is ending and beginning all at once it seems.

If you are not aware, this blog has shared 

what the Good News of Jesus Christ has poured into who I am

and how the Holy Spirit fuels

So I am able to be in fellowship and worship 

in whatever community I have been embraced in.

The reality has been over this past year

Is that I have been in intentional community called Internship

And my time, as a Vicar and Intern Pastor comes to a close

But my return to familiar horizons of Seminary is to be a joyous one

There is still ministry to be done before I depart

There is exciting ministry awaiting me as i return

What never changes

Is my vocation and this Call

to the mission and purpose that the Creator has cradled in His hands

And poured carefully into my fragile hands

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One more sermon to tackle

I hope those of you who are journeying along as I am

Questioning, struggling, striving, hoping

Will continue to with me

This last year of Seminary will be intense

Hectic

Memorable

Stressful

Prayerful

But I am thankful

Because of what God has given to me.

Lape Bondye, God’s Peace.

The Misunderstood Weed

Oh God We call

Oh God we call

From deep inside we yearn

From Deep inside we yearn

From deep inside we yearn

For you….

pray-for-peace

Grace and peace to you

My sisters and brothers in Christ

As we, kneel crying out for peace everlasting

From God Our Creator

And from the risen Christ, Our Savior and Lord.

 Amen.

 

The field is the world

And the good seed are the children of the kingdom

The weeds are the children of the evil one.”

(Pause)

I am lost without words

There are no good answers

Of why, the children of God

Are at war with one another.

When was it alright

To destroy something

That had life breathed into it

By the Creator?

Because along the way

We deemed these lives, useless and worthless

We deemed their supposed ugliness offended us

We have taken upon ourselves

To be Judge and jury

Since somehow their mere presence

Posed a danger

And encroached into our own personal gardens

(pause)

Unless you have been living as a hermit, cut off from the world

These past couple of days have been taxing, I am sure, for all of us

As we have witnessed repeated horrors,

Of children bearing the weight

Doomed to suffer tragedies

All because of what other perceive as the sins

Of their parents

Of their neighbors

Of their elders

There are People

Positioned like security at the border

Screaming obscenities at children

Hoping to find a peaceful place

So that they can just be, children

The military showing their might, targeting

A beach where only for a moment

Children had the ability to run and play with family

Kicking around a soccer ball

Escaping the violence invading their homes and their streets

(pause)

The plight of these innocent casualties

Unfortunately divides us as people of faith

And so we who have been called to this ministry and mission

That Jesus Christ has charged us with

Find ourselves in a difficult position

Because sharing the Good News as a community

Of choosing to journey with, break bread with

Those who are considered to be

Outcasts

Outsiders

We find ourselves suddenly cast aside

As if we are wrought with a disease

As if we are weeds

A  Pastor friend and LSTC alum, Tom Gauke

who serves in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood

Routinely works with those who are homeless, those who are incarcerated

Those who are immigrants, those who are jobless

He like many of us from the Chicago-land area

Are not ashamed of the effort of the work with regards

To living out what the Gospel compels us

And so like many of us who are dismayed and saddened

By this world

Offer up prayers on social media

And have the ability to celebrate and proudly share the good work being done

For example, the presence of many of our fellow sisters and brothers in the ELCA

Right now at the border

But because he chose to share his faith and his prayers publically

This caused one of his family members to become irate

And declare that the work that he does for those Jesus Christ stated

“The least of these”

As “Un-Christian”

(pause)

So there is this constant tug of war, this imbalance

Of trying to find the words, or leaning on our faith

Something to bring healing and restoration to us and to Creation

All it seems we can do, is pray daily

Asking for deliverance from this madness that seems to be clogging up our lives

It just seems as if our souls are cluttered

And our faith is crowded with weeds

Weeds of suspicion

Of Distrust

Of Hatred

Of Rejection

Of the Word of God?

(pause)

Not surprisingly these ancient people, in our Matthew text

were surrounding, following this strange man

Called Jesus Christ

We can just sense the tension of people searching

Searching for clarity, healing, for answers or

Just a way to clear out the weeds, within who they were

Earlier on in the Gospel of Matthew,

We see the wrestling with their faith evolving, and with the way things had always been

Which now conflicting with the law

Thereby causing them to reject

Both Jesus Christ’s presence and His teachings

About the Word and the Truth of God.

That the law didn’t allow for transformative justice and forgiveness

Not everything was black and white

Not every person was either good or evil

(The law) Left no room for mercy and forgiveness

Left no room for the children of God

To see the reflection and the presence

Of the Kingdom of God

In their fellow neighbor and those who were perhaps

Strangers, immigrants in their midst

Regardless of where they had come from

Or how they greeted another in their native tongue

Or whether they followed this daily practice

Or that dietary law

Or even yes, even if they were only recognizable

By the oppression that they left in their wake

(pause)

Today, hearing this well-known parable

Can be rather confusing

Because if you notice

Jesus Christ taught this parable twice

Once to the crowd

Leaving them to struggle and to interpret, with no answer

“Let both of them (the weeds and the wheat) grow together until the harvest.”

This is where this parable has become exclusionary

Because somewhere in the hearing of the word,

These weeds-people who are perceived different

From the “chosen people”

Were seen as troublesome

Crowding

A nuisance

Unworthy of the light

Or Love

From the Creator

But listen closely to what Jesus shares with the disciples

And with us

That just as easily as the weeds will be burnt at the harvest

So “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out

Of His Kingdom all causes of sin…”

(pause)

In order to understand the Word of God

We must deeply listen and allow the Holy Spirit to guide our hearts

This parable of the wheat and the weeds

Is not about Christ coming and carrying up

All the evil people of the world

Because the Psalmist praises in our Psalm this morning

But you O Lord, are a merciful and gracious,

Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness”

Do we hear any conditions or exclusions of whom God’s Love and Mercy are not for?

Hear Jesus’s words stating that only evil can cause confusion

And the enemy who sowed (those seeds of destruction) is the devil!”

God our Creator loved all of God’s Creation

And created all of us

Whether we are Catholic, Lutheran or Muslim

Whether our ancestry is Mexican or African, Palestinian, European

God, the Alpha and the Omega

Only has the power to give LIFE

Evil, Satan, the Devil however we recognize it

Only has the power to rob us of being in relationship with God

But wait, see

The Good News is

It doesn’t end there-

Through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection

Jesus Christ promises and delivers to us… NEW LIFE!

(pause)

This is about the Good News

That Jesus Christ has the power through God, Our Healer

To eliminate the sins

That wrench us away

From the Goodness of God’s Love

Those sins of ignorance of those whom we may not understand

Of hatred of those that we are not familiar with

Of blindness to other’s suffering

So because of the suffering that our risen Savior experienced

Upon the Cross

We, as sisters and brothers in Christ

Are called to live out a public, prophetic witness in the garden

Right here within our churches

Outside in the streets

Among the people whose faces reflect

The joy, the pain, the questions, the hurt

The Mercy and Grace that is God, Our Creator

We are called to give voice

To those whose stories and whose journeys

Show us how God is moving and flowing and living

Even in the midst of fear and terror and uncertainty

(We are called) To continue to share the Good News of Jesus Christ

Until every weed that the devil attempts to choke our lives with is out.

This is not about weeding out

Those who we assume should be excluded

Judging and removing people from their lands,

Their homes,

Their livelihoods

Simply because we do not understand their language,

How they worship

Or selfishly and self-righteously question

Their existence as a part of God’s Creation

(pause)

This is about following in the risen Christ’s footsteps

Of loving one another as God loves us,

Because God’s Love is so great toward us

God “has delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.”

(pause)

What are weeds?

(talk about growing up in Chicago and the weeds that sprinkle over everyone’s law and were the bane of any homeowner’s existence and how I used to think they had no use. But dandelions are food for animals, we can eat the seeds, make wine and herbal teas.)

What are weeds?

(Talk about the of people on the border/Palestinians/Native American/etc and the gifts that each of their cultures brings to this global Table)

Everything that God has created has a purpose

Everyone that God has breathed life into, has a purpose

We must remember this.

Thanks Be To God.

Living in the Light and Love of God’s Word

Grace and peace to you, my sisters and brothers in Christ

As we raise our heads waiting

For waves of Love, Mercy and Grace

Washing over us from the Creator God

And from His Son, Jesus Christ Our Savior and Lord.

Amen

 Many of us are enjoying this time

of Summer

Bringing with it the freedom to be immersed

in this gift of Creation;

This promise of abundant life that God freely gives.

Summer is a season of exploration and hellos

(pause)

Summer also happens to be a season of changes and good-byes.

I am sure that Sacha, Gretchen, Eleanor and Eli

Have probably been fielding questions

About what they will miss most about Austin

About how they have lived and loved

About how they have witnessed the Holy Spirit

Move in so many places.

This realization that the Holy Spirit

Will continue to surround them in new sacred spaces

Must be of comfort to them.

(pause)

The mountains and the hills before you

Shall burst into song

And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”

And so throughout this Isaiah text

We hear God’s Promise

That God’s Word is always a constant, present

(pause)

I am sure, my brothers and sisters in Christ

That over the past few weeks

We have a hard time fathoming

How God’s Word is accomplishing anything..

The Creator seems to be scattering this Word

That encompasses Forgiveness and Love

Everywhere, and perhaps to us almost carelessly

Because we as people of faith unfortunately recognize those places

Where God’s Word will never take root

Because humanity tends to get in the way and makes a mess

Of the Truth that is the Word of God

Jesus Christ’s teachings, His commandments, challenge us

Of what we as people of faith are called

To do toward and for others

(pause)

We are painfully aware of those who have the responsibility

Of stewardship over places of good soil-

Communities of faith

Sacred spaces where the people of God come, broken, famished

Refusing to allow those rich fields to be tilled

Exposed

Open

To the power of the Word of God through the Holy Spirit

Because the intensity of the Holy Spirit is frightening!

And so they attempt, feebily to limit how the Word of God

Has the power to nurture those who are either stifled in their faith

Or growing and blossoming in theirs

Until all we have left, crumbling in our hands

Is a drought filled life.

(pause)

These ancient people, throughout this Isaiah text

Had been searching

Stumbling for relief and release

In their drought filled lives.

Drought of oppression

And of unsureness

Wilting under the shadow of occupation

And of exile

That they were not fully able to live life abundantly

As God, Our Creator

Had willed

And called God’s people to do so.

They felt perhaps, they had to rely on the unfruitfulness

Of what came from the oppressors’ garden

And in deep in their anguish

They could not see growing underneath their feet

What precious life was budding from the soil

Nurtured by the never ending rain

That even though they were not in the place

That God had promised to them

That did not mean that God could not send relief

Drenching them with the reminders

Of God’s unending, eternal Love.

(pause)

We are left with this heaviness and defeated feeling that God’s Word

Has fallen upon the rocks,

Around the thorns in the hearts of God’s people,

Because God’s Word commands and directs us

To stand for those who others see as

Weak

Unworthy

Undocumented

(pause)

We find ourselves wearily looking out over desolate, forgotten gardens

Gardens filled with communities of people battered,

Their lives tangled in Murder in the streets

Of children fleeing torture and starvation

And unable to flourish a fulfilling life

Of young adults targeted and singled out

Because how they worship God differs

Even though they as we, are connected, bonded through God

As all of God’s children

Gardens nurtured by people who are not open or understanding

Of the Gospel

Which Forgives and Heals beyond anything the Law could do

They seemingly deliberately push out of their hearts

The seeds of God’s Word

Because hearing God’s Word

Calls for releasing

The temporal and the temporary trappings

Of what this world gives to them

Which in truth, yields

(pause)

What perhaps these ancient people

And we, too as people of faith need to be reminded

That God’s Word is Transformative

Revolutionary

Radically Changing

That which has been pronounced

Dead

And giving, creating within and throughout,

New LIFE!

It shall accomplish that which I purpose

And succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

This is GOOD NEWS!

WE know of this GOOD NEWS

This world has been a witness

To the power of God’s Word

Through the Death

And Resurrection

Of Jesus Christ!

Jesus Christ proclaimed and promised

That the people of God

ALL of the people of God

Would never be alone

That through Jesus’s sacrifice

The World

God’s People

This Creation

Would be Given the Gift of New Life!

So that we

Shall go out in joy

And be lead back into peace!”

The Good News is that God’s Word

Never Leaves!

It reverberates like a boomerang

Sent out

Delighting us with seeds of grace and mercy

Empowering us to be filled with God’s Truth

Enlightening and reminding us of God’s Love

(pause)

The Good News is that even with Creation suffering

With the visible signs of pain and sorrow

The Word of God

Is healing

Through our showing love towards one another

Through our endless prayers

Wherever our journeys may lead us

We can always find God here

Right next to us in the pew

Outside those doors

Here at the Table

Opening us up to what God has called us to do.

Thanks Be To God.

The Question of Freedom in a State of Violence-Another no sermonizing week

 

The Table of Creation is broken.

“The table is broken by racial, gender, class and economic inequity; by persistent violence in our homes and our communities, a flawed immigration system and the stubborn persistence of poverty.” Rev. Stephen Boumann, ELCA

The place where we should be able to leave our burdens, our sins and our sorrows has been disrupted.

By identifying the Gospel of Jesus with a spirituality estranged from the struggle of justice, the church becomes an agent of injustice.” Dr. James Cone, Theology and the Black Experience

Those of us who have been called to a ministry of healing, whether it is pastoral or professional, carry this burden, stone by stone in our hands, because we do not know what else to do.

This past weekend, many of us in this country celebrated the birth and the beginning of our nation

But

How can we celebrate freedom, where there are many that are still enslaved in many deep, dark abysses right before our eyes?

A good friend and fellow Kenwood Academy alum takes on a heavy burden night after night, serving as a Chicago 911 dispatcher. Her Facebook post was full of sorrow and pain; I can not imagine what calls she has had to take, especially over this past couple of days.

Recently in the mail, as I continue to serve as Intern Pastor while my Internship Pastor is on Sabbatical, I received this10500450_10203379800388701_7077709808040009287_n

Two different worlds..

The problem with the two kingdom doctrine is that revolutionary dynamic discharged by the kingdom on the right hand, did not set off any explosions on the left hand.” Dr. Carl Braaten

Dr. Braaten’s words spill out onto the page from the turmoil of the 60’s into the turmoil of today. Luther would argue with him, I am sure.

But Luther seemingly was interested in order and patience from the oppressed.

We can not sit here and “hum” while children who are fleeing a horrific life in their native country of Mexico, of Cuba, of Haiti, of Syria, of Palestine are searching desperately for a place to call their own and for peace.

We can not sit here and be quiet, hoping and praying those who are in positions of power adjust the laws, so that the elitist and the wealthy profit and believe that they are in control of the masses.

We can not sit here and hope that things will get better IF we just pray about “those” people, that they will repent and just pull themselves up by their bootstraps…

That last phrase needs to be erased from every living human’s memory.

No one can pull themselves up by anything

If there is nothing for them to grasp onto.

God clearly is weeping, mourning those who have been lost.

Yet the Creator’s voice rings clearly to those whom the Creator has called to action-

For us to live out the commandments that we have been called to do-

Let your motto be resistance! resistance! resistance!”

As Rev. Stephen Boumann has stated time again, it is time for us as people of faith to reconnect-

To leave those places of comfort

and construct new Tables in the community

Tables where stories are told, and a meal is shared

Tables where people can begin to reconstruct their broken lives through love and grace

Tables where we see the reflection of the risen Christ in one another

And can begin a conversation around Forgiveness and Mercy

And have an opening, welcoming Table for all to grow, to live and to be the Children of the Creator

that God has called, willed and birthed us to be.

Lape Bondye

God’s Peace.