Second Week down, 5,848,372,920 weeks to go :)

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Lamenting Scarcity, God’s Ability

Grace and Peace to you

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ

As we attend to the emptiness within ourselves

How can we ignore the emptiness that gnaws in others?

Those who are crying out for sustenance

Because we are all invited to the Table

From the One who Fills us with Grace, Mercy and Love

Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Lord

Amen.

(pause)

Hunger is an ugliness that permeates our society

We are inundated with pleas from those who dangle precariously

In the middle of our streets

Men who have served their country

And now are begging for their country to serve them

Worn out because of lack of quality of life

We are overwhelmed with mothers who walk a tight line

Between humility and shamefulness

Clinging desperately to their responsibility

Of feeding those close to them, any way possible

Worn out because of lack of quality of life

(pause)

Hunger is the ugly sin

that chafes at the delicate skin of humanity

Humanity rushes past those who follow us into grocery stores

Into places of abundance

Who are only hoping to cure the pains of hunger

For maybe just one day

Meanwhile humanity endlessly grumbles about rising costs

Hiding fears of not having enough to satisfy themselves

Pushing down deep the ghosts of starvation past

That lingers in their subconscious

Lamenting that they cannot help anyone else beyond their reach

Oblivious to the realization when hunger is soothed

It soothes the abysmal feeling of loneliness and being unwanted

Soothes also the distress of rejection and neglect

This crisis of feeding and comforting the hungry rises to a boiling point

We can no longer overlook its lingering presence

(pause)

But what about another different hunger

That regardless of how well off

Or well connected

Or contented we are as people

This hunger continually eats away at ourselves

Until starving, we search in desperation for anything

To fill our souls?

(pause)

This Hunger for compassion,

for recognition,

for deliverance

Without question brings us to our knees

when this world robs us of the essentials of living

This hunger strips us of our ego, our worries, our individuality

Where we unabashedly claim what is offered at the Table

(pause)

I encountered a young man this week

Stripped of the ability to communicate clearly

Stripped of being able-bodied or being seen as fully human

But wanting to come before the feet

of the One Who Fills us with Good News

Wanting to be filled with forgiveness and mercy

Wanting too, to dine at the Table healed and made whole

He hungers for real fulfillment

And his hunger, beloved

Is something that we as people of God

Have actually the ability to FILL HIS HUNGER UP

(pause)

What can we offer in our baskets

To those wandering into this place

That saturates their hunger

Replacing the ill

Empty

Junk food of the world

Yet we seem time again to focus in on the scarcity in our baskets

That it simply cannot be enough

“Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?

Or cannot make an impact

“But what are they among so many people?” 

Or make any difference?

(pause)

Can we be bold enough

To confess that we too have experienced

Hunger

Just as these crowds

Who continued to follow Jesus Christ around

In our Gospel text.

(pause)

They heard the rumors

The reports

And came running to hear this Rabbi

This Prophet

This Son of God

Who had the power to relieve them of their troublesome hunger.

(pause)

Many were hungry

They were the poor

The outcasts

The Lower caste

They did not have enough in their coffers

To stroll in the marketplaces

And freely without a second thought

Buy riches in meat and fish

That these people, the working class

Rarely had the opportunity to reap the benefits of their hard labor

(pause)

Having the luxury of eating every day of a week

Was either cause for celebration

Or because of a celebration

(pause)

But that is not what drove them

To sit at Jesus’s feet

They were hungry

They were thirsty

They were TIRED of this scarcity existence

Of being ridiculed for who they were

Because they stubbornly survived

On the Love of God that they had known

And CLUNG TO

That they refused to consume

what the Occupiers were forcibly feeding them

To assimilate into their doctrines and their laws

To forget their history and these divine commandments handed down

To turn their back on their sisters and brothers

Leaving them to flounder

Leaving them to waste away

Until their weakness drove them,

Just as it drives us sometimes

To accept spiritual placebos

That satisfies a temporary need

But cannot cure the deprivation of emptiness

That vibrates deep within those places we are hurting

Reminding us painfully

We need to be fed and made whole

(pause)

Inviting people into our homes

Sharing food among ourselves

as brothers and sisters in Christ

Is a sign of welcome, of friendship

Inviting people into this place

Sharing of ourselves

Sharing the Grace and Love that comes from God

Is a sign of commitment to the fellowship, the relationship

That flows through us through God

Because of God

And that is the Good News!

Because Jesus Himself

“took the loaves,

and when He had given thanks,

He distributed them to those who were seated”

The Good News is

Jesus Christ offered up of Himself

Offers Up of Himself to us, beloved

His Body

Jesus is the Visible Sign

Of Forgiveness

Of Love

Of the Saving Grace

Regardless of whether we have more than enough

Or can’t offer anything

(pause)

And when we are fretful about what isn’t in our baskets

And we can’t feed or satisfy the thirst in others

Or when our baskets are empty

Because our very own beings are bone dry

Because this world has robbed us of our nourishment

So that we offer of ourselves, through comfort

Through prayer

Through faith

The Good News is that THERE IS MORE THAN ENOUGH

There is more than enough of the Risen Christ

To fill us up

And our neighbors

And those living in assisted living

And those living in places of desperation

And those who are hungry

And all of us

The Good News of Jesus Christ is that there is more than enough

More of God’s Mercy and Grace

To quench our longing for acceptance

Because God Loves Us so much

His Son Shared of Himself

At God’s Table.

Thanks Be To God.

“Even Superheroes, Disciples and We need Rest”-8th Sunday after Pentecost

These Sermons through out this year and beyond, are the ones that I preach and share with my new community of Redeemer Lutheran Church, South Holland IL

Grace and peace to you

My sisters and brothers in Christ

As we struggle with this concept of rest

And we allow ourselves to be led

To that deserted place

Where we are face to face

With the One who has the power

To bring us healing

And newness of Life,

Jesus Christ

Our Savior and Lord,

Amen.

(pause)

Finding peace and rest

Being in that place where Our Creator God dwells

Does not always manifest in those perfect, picturesque places

Sometimes we find God among the desolate and the deserted

(pause)

Detroit is one of those places

Detroit could be the epitome

Of how desolation as we understand

Impacts and affects our connectedness in Creation

(pause)

Bleakness has infected this once vibrant, moving city

Leaving the echoes of blame

Of finger pointing

Bouncing endlessly off of those who were called to serve

Who failed

And who escaped, fleeing the city

While leaving those whom they were called to serve, behind

Who bear the brunt of the endless, accusatory questions

Of Why? How?

(pause)

Despair lingers and hovers over the atmosphere

Those places where education and learning

Should vibrantly be filling every nook

Instead they are left with nothing, with emptiness

That when this beloved collective community

reaches out their hands to touch

To pass the peace, and share God’s Love

With their neighbors (pause slightly)

Their neighbors are too far away.

(pause)

There are labels that are rudely plastered up

As signs of shame

For the wider community to peer and poke and ridicule

That the city of Detroit should be forgotten

A Godforsaken place

(pause)

Our Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton recently remarked,

And I am sure we would all agree

That is not how God sees Detroit,

Or any other place in this Creation

Which has suffered

Because humanity has forgotten to compassionately Love

(pause)

I speak of Detroit because this is where 30,000 of our Lutheran

Sisters and brothers, friends and youth are

They heard Jesus’s invitation to “Come away to a desolate place,

And rest a while”

This word for desolate in the Biblical Greek, Eremos

Has a different meaning than what we know

Of the word desolate in the vernacular

(pause)

Eremos means solitude

And it is in these places of solitude

God transforms these feelings of abandonment we carry with us

So that these places become havens of Rest

Sacred spaces where we are able to BREATHE

(pause)

I’m not sure if these 30,000 wonderful Lutheran youth are truly resting,

And by all of the news feeds and social media I would have to say no-

But the Good News has flooded this once deserted city

And this City is hearing how much it is Loved

Because those youth are speaking and actively living out this call

That Love Does.

(pause)

Think about your desolate place

An unlikely place where you can be refilled over and again

With Love

Because there is God

(pause)

Shall I share with you my desolate place?

It’s an untouched prairie

Full of wild thistles and beautiful irises,

Dragonflies and fragile bees.

The only sounds I hear

Are the hidden, tiny frogs which bellow in the rushes

And the giant trees which sing and echo

“The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want.”

(pause)

When we hear this invitation to rest,

Whether we willingly lay down in those green pastures

Or bypass the beauty of still waters

It is because our very beings are experiencing tiredness, right?

What was this desolate place that Jesus Christ called His disciples to

In our Gospel text this morning?

(pause)

The disciples we can imagine, also too, were tired

One day they are ordinary

The next they find themselves foolishly following the Son of Man

Just as many others who foolishly followed Him, hearing His Voice

Or seeing His Presence

Whether they went joyously, or were still questioning who He was

They followed Him into this space of Resting

Because only there, with Jesus

Their brokenness

Their hurts

Their suffering

Could be healed

By simply being still.

It’s no accident that the Psalmist laments

That GOD MAKES US LIE DOWN

How else can we be made whole,

If we have not rested?

(pause)

So the disciples are charged now with carrying many burdens

They are called to reach out and bring healing to those they know

And those who are strangers

But these burdens of people’s fears

Their sorrows

Their frustrations

Must have weighed heavily upon them as disciples,

As leaders

As teachers

Just like you and me.

Sometimes I think we as people of faith,

We hear these stories and forget

That these brothers in Christ were human, not superheroes

They were blessed with this gift to transform this World

Through the Power of the Word

That came not through their own will

But the WILL OF GOD.

(pause)

And so Jesus knowing their limitations and their burdens

Calls them back from their labors

To Rest.

To be renewed

To be reenergized

To them to have the experience too

Of God’s Mercy, Grace

(pause)

This invitation extends to us too, beloved

We have heard the call to bear one another’s burdens

To shelter those who are without a community,

A home

Where they are showered with compassion

Mercy,

Grace,

Peace

And Love

Regardless of how broken, or imperfect their journey has become

In those moments when we are too, carrying our own burdens of heartache

The Good News is that Jesus Christ

Calls us too into these desolate places,

Because that is where GOD DWELLS

It is in that shadow of the Cross

God Waits

God reaches

God Weeps

God TRANSFORMS

GOD DEFEATS DEATH

God claims US AS GOD’s OWN

God resides in the oddest of places

In places marked by death on the Cross

Where Jesus Christ bore the burden of our sins

Freeing us from any despair

That we are not loved

And that there is a place for all of us

Where we are always and eternally,

With God.

(use this time to invite them to the activity of writing down on the index cards, what keeps them from being in restful places-and what they can do or elimate out of their daily lives so that they do rest, and hear God, and are refreshed, renewed.)

Thanks Be to God.

What the World Needs Now, Is Love Sweet Love: A Wedding Sermon

The Wedding of Alicia Dailey and Jacob Hinkle from 1 Peter 4:8-11…

Grace and Peace to you

My sisters and brothers in Christ

As we struggle to love one another selflessly

Just as the One Who Loves Us

Because He gave of Himself

Out of Love

So that we might Live,

Jesus Christ

Our Risen Savior and Lord,

Amen.

What the World Needs Now

Is Love, Sweet Love

It’s the Only Thing,

That there’s just too little Of-

(pause)

Do we hear the conviction in this simple song?

Do we hear the truth, reverberating back out to us?

Because sometimes we don’t listen to the Word in our Scriptures

Which clearly are giving us a Commandment to Love

And so we have to be reminded about Love in other places.

(pause)

When this song came out, it was 1967

There were struggles in our society about love-

About loving our neighbor

About having compassion for those

Who regardless of who they were

About seeing,

More importantly the reflection of the Creator in their features

(pause)

What the World needs know

Is Love, Sweet Love

Not just for some

But for everyone.

The sad truth is that over 50 years later,

We still have not grasped this notion of Love.

We continue to struggle in our global society about Love,

We are so immersed in this strive to achieve things

Or success

Or status

We are so stressed out about how this journey of Life

Becomes so rocky and perilous

We have become so individualistic and self-absorbed

We are blinded to the pain and suffering etched

On those faces of fellow sisters and brothers in Christ

And in Faith

Walking right past us.

We are so wrapped up in proving ourselves right

Proving we follow the rules and regulations,

Policies

To the Letter

And somehow that proves that we are worthy

And righteous

That we forget to have compassion for those

Whom we have the ability to reach out, and embrace

To stand alongside them when they are broken

To raise our voices, reminding those who refuse to Love

Of what our calling has been given to us, about Love.

Because it is only through forgiveness and compassion

That we can truly be in community with one another

As we were created to.

Who are we,

To keep an account of one another’s sins

When we conveniently forget the sins we have committed?

(pause)

And that’s one of the biggest mistake we make

In our relationships, in our friendships, in our marriages

We find ourselves unable to love those

We hold dear

Or those we pass the peace with

Because our love is lacking in compassion,

In understanding

In forgiveness

In Mercy

In Grace

Jesus Christ came among us

And taught us

That we were to love one another

As GOD LOVES US.

If God can love us at our worst

At our clumsiness

At our imperfections

At our foolishness-

God loved us so foolishly,

Even when we as humanity over and again

Turned away from the Love of God,

God transformed something so ugly

And destructive

Into a symbol of RESURRECTION

And gave us HOPE

OF NEW LIFE

AND LOVES US ANYHOW

(pause)

And so we are reminded of that Love

And so wherever we are,

We have the power of spreading that Love

Until our world is infected with the Love that comes from God

And that’s what you both are called to,

Jake and Alicia

You are both Children of the Creator God

You are called to love one another

And share that Love with those around you.

Now, I am not saying there will not be days

When you struggle to love one another

Anyone here who loves someone so deeply

That they pledged to share the rest of their lives with

Can attest to that

But,

Never, ever walk away

Go to sleep

Ignore a text, an email

Because you are not feeling the love

Remember why you Love one another

And when you do forget

Those here gathered around you on this day of Love

Will embrace you in Love, Mercy, Grace

And you’ll remember,

That this world needs love

And it starts with each one of us.

Thanks Be to God.

Prophesy, Raising Our Voices

Grace and Peace to you

Beloved

As we wrestle with the foolishness

Of the Cross

That stands in opposition to this world

Encouraging, empowering us as people of Faith

To be living Witnesses

Calling us from our Ordinary Places

To Speak an Extraordinary Word

Of Love that has no end

Flowing from our Risen Savior and Lord

Jesus Christ

Amen.

(pause)

There is the never ending struggle

To speak prophetically

In those physical

Emotional

Or even spiritual

That would rather

Draw the shades

And the curtains

Blocking out the intense magnificence

Of God’s Mercy and Grace

That flows down over us

From the Holy Spirit

(pause)

Along this life’s journey

We find ourselves

Detoured and uncomfortable

Because God is tugging

Worrying at the fringes of our own spirits

Challenging us to raise our voices

To witness

To testify

To profess

Because the collective weight of our forgetfulness

Of whose we are

And what we have been called to

Has shifted away

From the plumb line in the Creator’s Hands

(pause)

So with some hesitation

We ask the perplexing question,

Use me, Lord?

Within our souls beats too much uncertainty

The uncertainty that our insignificant voices

Are missing the substantial authority

That is needed

To shift the atmosphere

Pushing humanity into clear waters of righteousness

Rinsing away the grit of life’s brokenness

(pause)

Again we ask the question,

Me, Lord?

Our very beings tremble, shaken by fears

Fearful of not being equipped enough

As the words fall sadly from our lips

Fearful of the rejection that we experience

From a scrutinizing world, we lack their credentials

Notoriety and Importance does not cling to our clothing

Even still, no one will bother to listen

Because we find ourselves at a loss

for what therapeutic words

we can share

that can stitch together open wounds

(pause)

Strangely enough

When we barge our way in,

And people listen

Listen to our prayers,

Our testifying

Our cries

We who are seen as

Prophets,

Preachers

Teachers

Run the risk

Of losing access to the inner circle

Losing access to comfort and security

Losing our jobs

Seeing friendships wither

Losing the places of connectedness

Thrust into exile and to the widening abyss

Losing even, the ability to live, breathe and exist

(pause)

And these examples before us this morning,

Our brothers John and Amos

It’s no wonder that we shy away, as people of faith

From stirring anything that trips the light prophetic

Because who of us can compare our Faith to theirs,

Especially facing Death?

They leaned into the restorative power of the Light of God!

They stood against the artificial shadows

And piercing light

Of glistening, menacing temples built for humanity

For Kings

(pause)

John and Amos were like most prophets

Many whom we could speak into this space

They were not popular

Not welcomed

Not wanted

(pause)

John was that aggravating reminder to Herod

That the sacred space of forgiveness

And repentance

And Love

Was accessible and open

To those who had searched

To those who had no status

To those who truly did not have to rely

On the tangible, fault-filled

Whims of humanity

 “Show us your steadfast love, O Lord

And grant us your salvation”

John the Baptist’s presence

Pointed to the way that God’s beloved children

Should follow

To obedience

To submission

To the feet of the Son of Man, Jesus Christ

Where we hear the Psalmist lament,

Restore us again, O God of our salvation

And put away your indignation toward us.”

(pause)

Amos’s visions that he freely shared with the people of God

Shook them from their places of slumber

Their forgetfulness

Their haughtiness

They were God’s chosen people

No one could stand in their way of progress

And dominance

God loved them, right?

“I will never again pass them by,” says the Lord

But God’s people had strayed from the plumb line

God’s people were guilty of breaking their contract with God

They had strayed from worshiping Yahweh

And Yahweh alone

They had failed in the obligation to provide

For those among them

Whose lives should have been held holy

As God held them holy.

(pause)

And when Amos freely shared his vision

Of God’s Wrath

You only I have known…

Therefore I will punish you,

For all your iniquities”

Amos was threatened with exile, with deportation

“Flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there,

Prophesy there.”

Amos was treading on dangerous,

Treacherous, treasonous ground

That his spreading of Good News

In this form of tough love

Was not so readily received

By those who knew that all of their status

Titles, and stature

They did not stumble upon it

By their own control

(pause)

Amos cried out to all who would hear him

For this says the Lord, to the house of Israel,

Seek me, and live”

John cried out in the wilderness

Prepare the way of the Lord,

Make his path straight”

What prophets are speaking to you right now?

What prophetic Word is stirring in your spirit?

Do you know that you have the POWER

TO SPEAK LIFE

Even when Misery comes,

Even when Heartache comes

Even when Death comes

There is always the Good News

Jesus Christ, the Son of Man

Cries out to the depths of our hearts now

Proclaiming

That God will never leave God’s People

When we step out on Faith,

And speak God’s Word

When we stand in the blinding Light of God

Even if we are ridiculed,

Even if people think we sound ridiculous

Even if people shun us

Mock us

Cast us out…

It is because of the transformative POWER OF THE CROSS

The moment of giving up of His LIFE

There was NEW LIFE

A NEW COVENANT

A NEW OUTCOME

No matter how the world tries to shut us down

There is nothing that can shut up

The Restorative and Resurrecting Power

Of God’s Word!

(pause)

I thought it was interesting that when I first came

To Redeemer,

I saw the signs in your parking lot

“Enter Worship”

“Depart in Service”

We come as community

As brothers and sisters in Christ

Fed, renewed at the Table

Where all are welcomed.

As you depart this place

Hear the word of God

Echoing through Amos

As you pass that sign

“Go, prophesy to my people.”

Thanks Be to God.

Overwhelmed

It’s been challenging to say in the least 

these past couple of weeks

Existing as a human being in places that are hostile to who I am 

as a child of the Creator

painted in beautiful hues of brown

sparkling jewel

overwhelming to know that some people are blind seeing God etched in the lines on my face

and so, searching for sacred spaces where I can breathe and be is the new normal

My soul has ached, wept, cried out and been angry

My spirit shows the scars from being in the midst of the battle

Where can I find solitude, serenity and peace

with those who do see Christ clearly staring back at them, with love

from my eyes?

Where is the place where my ringing voice for justice be welcomed?

Where can  I learn from those whose words, songs and language are different from mine own

in so many ways?

Overwhelmed

Waiting

Clinging to the Holy Spirit..

o s