You Are LOVED, No Matter What

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

As we find these Scriptures puzzling

Confusing

Even damming

We will find in the midst of the law,

The Love that flows from the risen Christ,

Which conquers,

Abolishes,

Frees us

To be in the Kingdom of God

Because of God

Amen

 

This past week has been one of contradictions

One moment we are experiencing Psalm 8

Unfurling before us in the night skies

Captured in an autumn red moon

“O Lord, O Lord,

How majestic is your name in all the earth.”

We gravitate towards one another in community

We experience God’s Love radiating throughout our very being,

These are not signs of destruction

But a reminder,

That our relationship with the Creator God

Can never be broken

Never severed

(pause)

And yet,

We find that our jubilation and our praising

Turns to weeping and lamenting

There is this sense of abandonment, perhaps

We are called to love one another

Forgive one another

Practicing restitution and restoring those who have fallen away,

From community

Even those who have broken the law,

(pause)

(share with the congregation about Tuesday evening, where I had gathered with my community @ Seminary to light candles and pray for a woman who had done just that, who had broken one of the ten commandments collaborated to murder her spouse and now faced death herself. So why were we praying for her, and others like her. Because as she confessed her sins, she’d worked very hard to give of herself to those around her sharing that prisoned space, Kelly wanted to remind them that Jesus Christ still claimed all of them!)

And on that night, we searched the Scriptures,

Sung a hymn

Jesus remember me,

When you come into your kingdom,

Jesus remember me,

When you come into your kingdom

(pause)

These words from a thief to Jesus,

Not wanting this total separation

From the Light of God

Because of the sins he had committed

Wanting to know that in the midst of chaos

And his broken existence

That he still was loved!

(pause)

Do we find ourselves singing this hymn

When we too are faced with our own sins?

When we have nothing else that we are able to cling to

Because as shortcomings and faults are uncovered,

It throws a community into turmoil

Divorce, to some, for example

Is a sin

How piercing

Harsh

Sorrowful

does this word vibrate throughout our being.

(Share with the congregation about the movie, The Women where the lead character was on a train bound for Reno, as portrayed in many of the movies of that era, where women would go to get a divorce. She would encounter many women who were on their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th divorce; they would put on this air of being nonchalant about the entire matter and false cheeriness; they gave advice about only marrying for the tangible, the material; that her mistake had been she married for love.”)

(pause)

But isn’t that what Jesus is teaching them in this moment?

(Talk about we as people of faith, having to remember that marriage for ancient people was not about love-even as God had commanded them, to love. Marriage was about giving away property-women were not seen as fully human; marriage was about aligning oneself and one’s family or tribe with someone more powerful, so that you could be guaranteed a position in society)

So Jesus had to remind them that their ancestors hearts

Were hard

They forgot the teaching

That what God has joined together

No one can separate

Or destroy

(pause)

Is that commandment too easy for them and for us?

Is this why throughout our Old Testament,

There is further explanation, further laws

Interpreted and crafted by human hands?

Because we, and understandably get so frustrated

Exasperated with one another

In those sacred relationships

In our marriages

So irritated

We are quick to throw up our hands and say

Enough!

Yet in the same breath

We are ashamed and painfully withdraw

There is that contradiction again,

We sit in the midst of our faith community

We hear Jesus saying these words

And we find ourselves, wedged in

Stuck between the pages of the law

“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”

(pause)

But Jesus is not condemning individuals in this moment

Think about this path that Jesus has been on

Jesus has been traveling,

Telling the disciples about his death,

They in turn are arguing about who is the greatest

Jesus teaches them about servanthood,

And letting those who are the most vulnerable,

The least of these

Are welcome first into the Kingdom of God,

And Jesus expresses this again,

Reminding them that welcoming

Those without homes,

without family

Without someone to love them fully

Those who question their humanity,

Questioning if they are worthy to serve

In that Faith community, in the church!

On a committee, as a deacon or church council

Simply because they feel their sins

Deny them from living out God’s mission

When we welcome them in,

We are welcoming in Jesus Christ!

Because Jesus is in the midst of a community that is not perfect

That is full of people who are at risk

Who have committed crimes

Who have broken the law

Who struggle to love

Who are not perfect

(pause)

Our Gospel text is not about

condemning people who were divorced!

Divorce happens

Its sucks;

It splits apart both family and community

Everyone is impacted

Two people who perhaps we have watched grow

Blossom into one

Have been torn

And we can’t mend them back together.

And sometimes that is even not appropriate

because sometimes it is the only answer,

so that people can heal from toxic situations

and breathe in the restorative love of God

(pause)

The Pharisees were testing Jesus!

-we miss that phrase right there;

The Pharisees wanted to pick Jesus’s brain,

Figure Him out

So they could break Him down,

Trap

Expose Him

for the charlatan that they assumed Jesus was.

But see the Good News is

Jesus deflects this question of the law

And instead turns this towards the subject of relationship

Our relationships with one another

Should not be based

On property,

Status

or even economic security.

Our relationships are interwoven

Interconnected

In community!

A community of imperfection

of the helpless,

Of the vulnerable

of sinners, like us, beloved!

And the Good News

is that when the wider society

stamps rejection on our foreheads

Jesus is not ashamed of us!

Jesus embraces us, no matter what!

Because Jesus has already served our sentence

Has removed the sting of sin,

Has delivered us from death itself!

(pause)

How countercultural the Gospel is-

That regardless of who we are,

Or who we love

Or how we struggle

Or what commandments we have broken

We are LOVED, NO MATTER WHAT!

And here, among this church community,

Is a place

Where we find peace, mercy and GRACE.

psalm-8-3-4Thanks Be to God.

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