One Last Internship Sermon: The Beginning and the Ending and the Continuing-Do not Be Afraid

Grace and peace to you

My sisters and brothers in Christ

From the One who is always present, God Our Creator

From the One who always surrounds us, The Holy Spirit

And From the one who is always there

In our beginnings and in our endings

Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Lord.

Amen

(pause)

As people of faith,

There is a place residing within our souls

No matter what turmoil rises

We can find the risen Christ standing in the midst

His voice carrying a message of hope and of mercy

“Take courage

I AM

Do not fear.”

(pause)

These familiar words accompany us

As we take each step in God’s saving grace

It brings soothing winds into who we are,

Smoothing out the wrinkles

And the places we have picked over from worry

My own spirit certainly has strings frayed

Stepping into this space over a year ago

Yes, my call is rooted in my faith

Yes in the midst of fierce winds

And life amplified

The Holy Spirit shook loose the grasp I had

And answered me, “Come.”

(pause)

But would I find the Triune God waiting?

So many questions, so much doubt

Would I find this community called First English open and welcoming?

Would they understand how the Good News moves and magnifies me

To actively live out God’s mission and purpose

Would we all stand at the crossroads willingly accepting this journey

Of internship to discover and struggle together?

(pause)

Throughout our experiences in our faith filled journeys

We often forget these words offered by the Son of God

That should reverberate within who we are

Reminding us that wherever the Creator God leads us

Jesus Christ is the center of the comfort that has cradled our lives

Take heart

It is I

Do not be afraid.”

(pause)

Imagining the risen Christ standing in this sacred space

Should bring us a sense of hope

And so when we sing, our voices stretch throughout the atmosphere

Because we respond to the unconditional love and grace

That flows from who He is and what He means to us

That causes us to pry ourselves from where we stand

As sisters and brothers in Christ

Wringing loose our fears, our worries

Taking that risk

Stepping out on Faith

Seems so easy, right?

(pause)

We have a lot in common with our brothers here

in our Gospel this morning

They were not the only ones to experience the presence and miracles

That our Creator gives

We experience the Goodness of God every day

Whether we realize it or not

in ordinary miracles

of babies brought into the arms of their mothers

of the rebirth of Creation in places where Creation had been condemned

of the simple act of reaching out to our neighbor across a fence

of simply sharing the peace

At the border or in a prison cell

(the peace that) Demolishes language and economic barriers

That stitches together the bond which the Creator God has woven

Continuously, throughout all of us

(pause)

We experience the presence of Jesus Christ

When we come willingly, openly to the Table

To be fed with healing and forgiveness

We can’t help but testify to the praises and promises of God

For all of God’s People

(pause)

So it should have been easy for these disciples

To follow this teacher and prophet called Jesus

Peter and the disciples witnessed and could testify

The Power of God present right then and there

That God Loved God’s People

Because Jesus fed thousands of strangers

Because Jesus healed those broken and forgotten

Because Jesus brought people back into the life and Light of God

Because Jesus had the power to even calm the chaos in Creation

(pause)

So we find ourselves, my brothers and sisters in Christ

Rooted, paralyzed along our spiritual journey

Attempting to clear our vision

Because we are uncertain

If the risen Christ stands at the crossroads of where we should go

Into those places where we aren’t sure if we will find Christ waiting

Will we find Him in that meeting?

Or that hospital room?

Or that church community?

(pause)

And then some well-meaning brother or sister in Christ

Throws that verse at our feet

Driving a wedge of guilt deeper

You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

I have had well-meaning elders, people of faith

Chastise me when I have shared my fears

About my journey

About the trials

And the cracks

And the caverns that seem to swallow me up whole.

They place conditions on God’s saving grace

That God can only help me if I just let go

For someone who is questioning faith and God

This would seem as if God only accepts us

If we fall under certain criteria for receiving God’s Saving Grace

And that is not the Good News we want anyone to hear.

(pause)

We find ourselves in that same place of uncertainty as Peter

We rush to prove ourselves, taking that leap of faith

But finding our imperfect selves in a state of shock

Because we are human

And because we are not trusting-of ourselves

We doubt, and worry, and question

Because we forget of the power that God, Our Creator

Knitted and woven into who we are

This power through the Holy Spirit

Of Love and of Mercy and of Grace

Because we were created lovingly as a part of Creation

God has given us the strength to enjoy every thrilling, beautiful moment

Or to push through the agony that this life sometimes weighs on us

(pause)

Perhaps there was a little humor in Jesus’s voice

As Peter flailed fearfully

Perhaps we too, hear that humor within our own souls

As we cry out in panic

Even as Jesus Christ stands in the midst of the boisterous

Blistering chaos

Asking us why do we doubt?

Why do we doubt that He would ever leave us?

Because the Good News is

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord

Shall be saved.”

When we find ourselves in the midst of confusion

Having answered God’s Call to serving our neighbors

Fulfilling out God’s mission to care for those that we otherwise

Would have not even known or embraced as brothers and sisters

By being a presence of peace

In the midst of arguments and conflict among one another

When we do not see the reflection of God, Our Creator

In the midst of injustice inflicted upon those who are forgotten

When we refuse to acknowledge we are called to serve

In the midst of sorrow and darkness that intrudes in our sacred spaces

When death threatens to tear at the very fabric of our faith and hope

(pause)

When our crying voices echo Peter’s cry

The Good News of Jesus Christ is that Christ not only reaches out with healing

But that Christ remains with us

Walking, journey with us

That doesn’t mean that we will not have nagging questions

Or lingering doubt.

The wonderful thing about being a child of God

Is that God welcomes our questions, and our worries

God sees our faith blossom and falter

God celebrates our joys and cradles us in our tears

Even when we are thrashing against God in anger

Because we do not understand

Because we are scared

The Good News Is that Jesus will always remain there

Standing before us

Speaking to the depths of our soul where we may be broken

“Take heart

I am

Do not be afraid,

I am with you

I have called you each by name

Come and follow me

I will bring you home

I love you and you are mine.”

Thanks Be to God.

Public Church, Public Witness: A Series of Never Ending Thoughts

Justice

“for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?  And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’  And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Perhaps my writings will possibly make me unpopular with the wider community

But with the understanding

That being wholly immersed

In what the Gospel calls deep within our souls

Causes us to do strange things

Right?

Or perhaps it is also the call that burns within

my own blood

Because of my ancestors

Who engaged the presence of the Creator actively

They protected this Creation given to them

They fought for freedom and for peace

They honored and worshiped the life poured into who they were

Just as many tribal people continually do today

So

Am I at fault for hearing what Jesus Christ calls us to do?

And that I refuse to fall into the trappings

of an man made artificial Gospel

of abandonment?

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There is an understanding of suffering-

Of questioning why one race or creed

Actively wants your people removed

from this Life

Civil rights protestors are attacked with a water cannon.

So what moves us not to become involved?

to be continued…