What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Grace and Peace to you

My sisters and brothers in Christ

When all else fails,

When the flimsy layers of this world falls

When human weakness crumbles

There you will find Creator’s Love

Freeing

Challenging

Filling US

A part of US

Just as Jesus is a part of US

Amen.

 Love,

Even in the midst of all of a self-centered world

Seems to be present everywhere

And that is Good News

But love is more than the warm and fuzzy feeling

That is the usual comfy blanket

Hearing 1 Corinthians 13

Most often at celebrations of weddings

“Love is patient,

Love is kind”

But when we are amiss

And have forgotten

And stand divided

Divisive

In our friendships

In our relationships

In our marriages

And long term commitments

This is when this Scripture should be proclaimed

We forget about this Letter to the Corinthians

That Paul wrote to a community in distress

Easily divorcing oneself from the community

I appeal to you brothers and sisters,

That you all agree with one another,

That there be no divisions among you”

When we can not stand one another’s presence

When we disagree in committee meetings

Sit away from one another in the pews,

As if there is a wall present

Refusing to pass the peace

Because we have deemed that person to not be deserving

Of Agape

Or not sharing the abundancy from the Creator

Because we have deemed them to be unlovable

This,

This is the time

We should be running to God’s Word

Because it is only God’s Love

That overshadows

Any disagreement, any offense, any unhappiness

It is display of love

In tough times

That plows through all the superficial

Exposing the roots

Getting the work of what God calls God’s children to

In the end,

Real Love,

The love that is never fearful of getting dirty

The Love that exudes God’s Grace

Reminds us of God’s Promises

That God Loves us Unconditionally

Especially when we act our worst,

When we are twisted into ugliness

When we sin

(pause)

Love is more than sappiness

And sentimentality

Love is,

Always

Costly

Love means giving of oneself

Being vulnerable

Forgiving

Open

Truthful

(pause)

Jesus,

In our Gospel lesson

Was truthful

Because of the empowerment

The liberation through

The Holy Spirit

When we are consumed by the Holy Spirit

Radical things are birthed!

Radical in that Jesus proclaimed to those gathered,

That the Good News He taught and preached

Was not just for them.

Do we wonder what it had to be

In the midst of that crowd in Nazareth

When Jesus, son of Joseph

A carpenter

Seemingly has made it big!

The same way as many of our faith communities swell

When a child of their own returns

From the Holy Land

Or a year in YAGM

Or years in Seminary,

How people beam and claim that person,

As their own

And yet, would we react

As these ancient people did hearing Jesus

Pride and smugness faltering

When Jesus proclaimed Radical Gospel

That the love of God was not just for them

The so called chosen people

But that God’s Love was for the Gentiles

That God’s Love is not just for followers of Christ

But for our Muslim sisters and brothers

Especially when they extend the love of God

Protecting us!

Not just for Israel

But also for Palestine,

Especially when these sacred lands that are squabbled over

ARE THE CREATOR’s!

And are wide enough,

deep enough for ALL

And in the end, return to the Creator’s Hands

Not just for the police,

Who struggle to do what they are called

Commissioned to

But also struggle to enact tough love

with those in their ranks

Who do not see their job, their mission

As an expression of God’s Love and Mercy

But also for those protestors

Who feel as if their communities

Are not loved at all

Not just for the faithful

But even for atheists,

Who perhaps the reason why they feel there is no God,

Is because we who cling to religious doctrines and dogma

and not to God,

And not to the Word of God,

Which is Jesus Christ

Are stingy with our love,

And demand that they prove themselves worthy

Of God’s Love

(pause)

What happens when we come to those places of holiness,

To hear that God Loves US

And we are confronted with the Good News,

The tough Love in the Gospel

That Creator God’s LOVE EXTENDS BEYOND

What we could possibly imagine

That goes beyond our own limits,

Boundaries we establish

God’s Love, Mercy and GRACE

Is also for those whose presence grates our nerves

Whose voices we have tuned out,

And voluntary chosen to be deaf,

Because their voices are crying out

for the smallest drop of love,

So they can keep on living,

keep on pushing through this life

(pause)

We do not practice the Love that is clearly here

“It does not dishonor others

It keeps no record of wrongs”

We forget what the Scriptures remind us,

“If one part suffers..”

Instead of withholding the Love that God gives to us

To give to others

When they are in need,

Why are we not implementing that same tough love

On those authorities

Who because of not remembering how to Love

Or impact Grace

Or react with Mercy,

Their actions have been the cause of devastating situations

That affect those that we are called to serve

With Love

(pause)

Jesus reminds these children of God before Him,

And us, beloved

When we are confronted with the truth of our

Pettiness

Loathing

Fear

In those moments when God’s Word

calls us out of our temper tantrum

The Good News is that in that chaos,

That storm of anger

When we PUSH GOD away,

Because the realization is that God’s Love

Is cosmic

Is overwhelming

Is healing

Is for everyone-

God still embraces us,

Loves US

Regardless!

(pause)

It is hard to fathom,

That God’s Love is for all of us

Regardless of how we identify,

Praise

Worship

God.

It is not our call to judge one another,

Or merely see one another as something unlovable

But it is our call to Love, to care,

To struggle, to journey with

To try and fail and try again.

None of us is perfect, right?

The Good News is both Love and Tough Love

Because the Creator wishes all

To be in that beloved, eternal community.

Thanks Be to God

The Radical, Challenging Reality of the Gospel

Grace and Peace to you

My sisters and brothers in Christ

The call to testify

Sharing our witness

Proclaiming the Good News

Flows through who we are

Because of the Love

From God, Our Deliver

Who never leaves us

But empowers us

And gives us

Jesus Christ

Amen.

 Where is your prophetic voice?

What about the Gospel fills you with hope

So much so,

You can’t help to shout about it

How many of you would want to join me on Ash Wednesday

Outside these doors

As we share a part of us,

This common bond

By offering Ashes to Go, right?

We’d have a sign that would point people who were rushing off to work,

To errands,

A moment to be present with God, Our Healer

Driving up into the driveway,

Receiving a blessing and anointing of ashes

As a public sign of who we are?

Crazy, right?

A little too radical, perhaps?

But,

Being public with our identity-

This actively living out what we are called to do

You’d be surprised how so many of our fellow sisters and brothers in Faith

How this simple action,

Touches them.

This simple action is a sign that God stands with those who feel abandoned

Who are suffering because their very being is empty

That God stands with the oppressed

The oppressed who have been told their very existence does not matter.

But why is speaking this very public pain,

Taboo?

(pause)

We, Lutherans founded

Because Martin Luther refused to be quiet

Refused to stop spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ

About the Goodness of God

And he challenged the principalities and powers

Because they were chained to false promises that this world offered

Not focused on the Living Word

Not focused on the Baptismal promises

Focused only on suppressing the spirit of the least of these

Focused on submersing themselves in a poisonous

Polluted

Pool

(pause)

This radical faith is an example

That sometimes we most often than not

Shut up in a box

Place on a shelf

And say,

“But that was then.

We don’t need to do that now.

That was needed then

We need to be orderly

Follow the rules by the book.”

If that’s the feeling,

That we have lost this feeling of the Holy Spirit,

We need to erase the Evangelical out of our name

These examples of Luther

These stories of Jesus

Are not to be treated as fairytales

Nor

That if we stood up in a public square and boldly proclaimed

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me

Because God has anointed me,”

To confess and profess that God is present with us in our suffering

That somehow we run the risk of being ostracized,

Outcast

Pushed to the outskirts

By this broken world

That taking a public stand for what you believe in,

Because you understand that the Table is for all

That being public with our witness and our discipleship

Can be costly

(pause)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”

(share the words from Dr. King of his experience with the Holy Spirit

From God and Personalism, where Dr. King was sitting in his kitchen and was feeling

Defeated; Just as Jesus prior to our Gospel lesson this morning had been in the wilderness

So it seems was Dr. King, who was experiencing a wilderness moment as he struggled to fight For the least of these, for civil rights, for the opportunity to live fully into who God had created him to be regardless of how the darkness of humanity heart had attempted to cloud out the Light of God shining down upon all. King says, “I tried…” Speaking out as he was attempting to do against the hatred of injustice and racism and oppression would indeed place him on the outskirts of “polite” society because King was breaking barriers, pushing the boundaries and pleading for equality and peace for his people. King continues “I am here../I am at…nothing left.”

At that moment,

King says “I experienced the presence of the Divine..”

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me!”

The Holy Spirit in that moment brings comfort and empowers this,

Our brother in Christ

“Stand up…”

(pause)

King drew on his faith,

And on the examples that Jesus Christ left for him,

And us

Jesus Christ

In the wilderness

Experienced evil following Him

Mocking Him

Taunting Him

But God did not abandon Jesus!

And so we find Jesus in the Gospel this morning

Confrontational!

Is that too radical to think of Jesus Christ,

As anything more than serene?

Jesus wanted this damaged world to know

That the Kingdom of God is HERE

That God called Him,

And Us, beloved

To stand for the poor

The oppressed

The Marginalized

That Jesus would not and does not conform

To the insincere values of this world

Because this world

Deems those who cannot

Or cannot live into a status of wealth

Unimportant

That the poor are nothing more

Than sinners

Because they didn’t work hard enough

To gain God’s favor

And because they are sinners,

Their lives do not matter

And therefore they should be

Condemned

And that the condemned are hopeless

And belong into the wastelands of death.

(pause)

But Jesus interrupts the orderly way of this world

And declares

WE are all a part of ONE BODY

ONE

That we are all Baptized by ONE HOLY SPIRIT

That we are all given ONE HOLY SPIRIT

To drink

(pause)

But there seems to be a lack

Of the Abundance of God’s Love

Which is poured into us

Which is not, in turn poured out

From our own coffers

To fill the jars of those of our sisters and brothers

Who stand empty

We are witnessing pain

On our streets

On TV

People arguing

Debating

About whose lives matter more-

Thankfully here at the Table

All of our lives matter

Because the Good News of Jesus Christ-

“Now you are the Body of Christ,

And each one of you is a part of it.”

The reality is

“If one part suffers,”

When one part of this humanity

This piece of the cosmos

Is brokenhearted

From inequality

From prejudice

From racism-

That in itself is radical,

To stand here and name the sins

That separate us as a beloved people

Because the movement towards healing

Wholeness

Has to come out from the darkness that it has been pushed into

It must come out of the shadows of the dejectedness

Where we sometimes resign ourselves

That death has won

Out from the shadows of the cross

Because GOD TRANSFORMED THE CROSS

God, Our Healer transformed the ugliness of this world

Through the Cross

Where death was stopped

And the Blinding Light of Love and Grace

Pierces (word/line)

And because of The Holy Spirit infecting US

We can’t help it

We kick open the doors of the wider Church

We proclaim

HERE

Here is where you will find acceptance

Love

RESURRECTION

HERE,

We kick open the doors

Where this world has attempted to chain it shut

And we proclaim

HERE!

We proclaim God’s Word

LIBERATING

“He has sent me to proclaim FREEDOM

For those who have been chained by this world

Because they are thought of as being less than

“He has sent me to proclaim RECOVERY

Recovery of wholeness for those who have been blinded

By the hard-hearted damage of this world

“He has sent me to SET THE OPPRESSED FREE

To proclaim that here and now,

This is the year of Jubilee

When we are supposed to forgive one another’s debts

Celebrating the gifts that God has given us,

Especially this gift of LIFE

This gift that is Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Lord.

(pause)

So, was I too radical?

Radical in naming some of the sins

that pollute this fragmented world

Pollution that is not hidden,

But threatens to turn our baptismal waters into vile colors

When I wander through my own wilderness

Whether or not, I should share my reality

Of those like me

With you,

A card that hangs in my Pastoral office reminds me

And I have no choice,

Then to acknowledge,

Proclaim

What the Creator God has called me to-

God has called me to proclaim to those stuck in poverty,

God has not forgotten about us

To those trapped in prisons,

Whether physical or mental

Because of their sins

God has not forgotten about us

To those whose illnesses are too costly for the principalities

And powers to be concerned with working toward cures

God has not forgotten about us

To those who are oppressed

Because of how the Creator created them,

Painted them,

Brought them into being

God has not forgotten about US

So,

Let’s be radical,

And use our prophetic voice

And because of the Gospel

Change this world!

Thanks Be to God.

Time of Celebration, Time of Reflection, Time of Action, Time of Faith

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

In the midst of celebration

We can not ignore the hard work that God is calling us to

We can not ignore how God is stretching us

We can not ignore how deep God’s Word digs into our very being

Because that is the example the Creator left for us,

In God’s Son Jesus Christ.

Amen.

 It’s easy to remain there,

Warm and nestled in the midst of the children’s sermon

Hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ

That Jesus is the reason for our joyfulness and celebration

That Jesus comes right in on time

And in abundance

And yet,

When we go out of these doors

Into the wider community

We can’t ignore the fact

That it seems that there are places

Where God still has not shown up, it seems

When we share God’s Peace,

What is our role

When an uncomfortable situation surfaces

With that question

“How are you?”

Erupts into tears and sorrow

Accusing God of passing them by

That God’s abundance

Is lacking

Is missing

Is absent

(pause)

And there never is a good time

To just sit with the question,

Of why them and not us

Or rather if they suffer,

Shouldn’t we without question or hesitancy

Opening the doors of our Home

Opening up hospitality

Because if we claim to be God’s servants

Then through us,

Through us sharing of ourselves

Isn’t that how the abundance of God, Our Redeemer

Flows?

(pause)

And that it is never the right time

To have these conversations

That even for example, right here in South Holland

If someone comes begging

Pleading

Searching

At their breaking point

That is perfectly okay for us

To send them down to Restoration Ministries

Because it seems they have abundance

Because they have cornered the market on hospitality

And because they seem to be able to do so much

That lets the rest of the wider community

Off the hook

And leaves the question hanging there,

But what are we called to do?

(pause)

It leaves the question about what those refugees

From the harshness of life are encountering

Are they welcomed and cared for without question?

Without conditions?

As sometimes unfortunately,

Our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ place

upon the least of these

Christians joyfully go into places of darkness,

Like prisons, halfway houses

Homeless shelters

On the streets

We are called to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ

That because of God,

Christ loves, Christ gives

Over abundantly

Regardless

But only if they convert

Join our church

Do what we say

Or even,

What are you going to do with this money that I am giving you?

In the midst of Christmas morning

A day of celebration

I had to run to my local CVS for something random

I encountered a homeless woman outside,

When I came back out

I handed her money

Behind me as I walked away,

I heard another woman approaching and encountering her

The homeless woman begged

And this woman questioned her

“You’re out here asking too early!”

And I was jolted

Shocked

I wanted to turn around and confront her

Who are we to question these

Our sisters and brothers in Christ

The access to resources has been cut off

Just because we have gotten into the comfortable habit

In the midst of celebrations

Not to see

Not to hear

To only be concerned with the superficial

And not allowing the Holy Spirit to peel back layers

To shatter the roadblocks and dams we place upon ourselves

Allowing the gifts of abundance that comes in many forms

To shower those containers lie barren and empty

If we call ourselves Christians,

Doesn’t that mean that we are the voice of Mary,

Perhaps reminding God

Not to forget God’s People

Saying to God

“They have run out of food

They have run out of resources to care for themselves

God, I need the resources

so that I have the opportunity to serve!”

And not,

Just fix it Jesus.

It’s not our problem

Or concern

So fix it Jesus

“They have no more wine,”

Mary turns to Jesus in our Gospel this morning

Not having enough or an abundance of things such as wine

Was a huge faux pas in Jesus’s day

Because being able to share of one’s hospitality freely

Especially when it came to wine,

Was sharing of God’s harvest

Of gladness

Of joy

Of oneself

And one’s home

It was a sign of this communal identity

Not sharing,

Not having enough

Especially for a celebration

Meant that then you were not

Or did not wish to be connected

Bonded with your fellow sisters and brothers in Faith

And so even being guests during this joyous wedding time

Mary turns to her Son,

Knowing who Jesus is-

And wants Him to fix it

Fix it Jesus,

Because you are the only one who can

Fix it so that they won’t be shamed

Embarrassed

Shunned

Fix it Jesus,

Because only you have the power

To give abundantly

To give the gift of life abundantly

We too, call out to Jesus Christ to fix it

Fix it because we don’t have abundant resources

Fix it, because their public pain is invading our private spaces

Fix it, because their public pain makes us shudder,

Uncomfortable

Fearful

Fix it, Jesus right now

Fix it Jesus, because that is your job

Not ours

But when we ask Jesus to fix it,

Do we really understand what we are opening ourselves to?

(pause)

And Jesus turns and in the midst of this celebration

That needs to be perfect

Go off without a hitch

Jesus reminds His Mother

And Us

Of what truly is more important

And at stake in this moment

“Woman, why do you involve me

My hour has not yet come.”

(pause)

These Scriptures

This story of the wedding at Cana

Bothers at my very being

These words, out of place

That this happens on the third day of this wedding

The third day,

On the third day Jesus Christ, the Son of God

Was resurrected

Overturned DEATH

This wedding at Cana

Was to be one of many miracles

Part of Jesus’s outreach

Because of God sending Jesus to be among us

That Mary turns to Her Son whom She knows

Has the power to renew, restore

LIFE

Jesus reminds us that He has indeed come to fix it

Fix us,

But not just temporarily

And not right this moment,

Not the way we perhaps lift up our prayers

Because when we ask Jesus Christ to fix the situation,

Sometimes it means that it gets turned upside down

For the Goodness of God’s will

When we ask Jesus to fix us,

Sometimes it means our whole linear way of thinking,

Walking

Gets shifted

And we find ourselves in places

we didn’t even think we would be

For the Goodness of God’s will

When we ask for Jesus Christ,

To be the Savior of the World

And fix this broken place

Because this world is lost in its own hell

The Good News is that Jesus Christ has come to turn this Creation

This world

Upside down

For God’s Will ALONE.

(pause)

The Good News is staring us in the face,

Because God Loves us,

Jesus Christ has the restoring,

Resurrection POWER

And gives to us Abundantly

We can’t help it

To hear His Word,

And Follow Him!

Thanks Be to God

 

Water, Stars, Word

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

When we are faced with days

Where the world only sees you as a failure

Mistakes

Imperfection

We know that the Light eternally burns brightly

Guiding us Home

Where the warmth of Love

Through the Holy Spirit

Shines

Where waters flow, cupped and poured over us by the One

Who has the power to wash away our sins

Jesus Christ,

Amen.

(pause)

Water is amazing

An essential part of Creation

Water’s healing properties cradled in a mother’s hands

Is nothing short of medicine,

Soothing babies rocked with fever,

And for the rest of us,

Soothing when the temperature wrinkles our skin

Water is vital,

Washing away impurities,

Carrying away the grit

Grime

Making us feel human once more

In San Francisco

A nonprofit called Lava Mae

Is rooted in its mission

Repurposing decommissioned buses

Restoring them

Into mobile showers,

For the least of these

For the homeless

How much different their experience

After not having any access to wellness

To water

How much different they appear

Transformed

Reminding us, with some shame

That they are our sisters and brothers in Christ

And in Faith

So then the rest of humanity is not so shocked

of their existence

Perhaps then, because of water,

We will be moved to interact,

Welcoming them

Into our House

(pause)

Water is a daily part of humanity’s ritual

That we are not even conscious of

In these moments of solitude

where we are in the presence of the Divine,

Of the Holy Spirit

We have a unique opportunity to remember our Baptism

My academic advisor Dr. Kurt Hendel

Routinely during his Lutheran Confessions course

Shared his grand idea for bringing the joys of Baptism

To the wider community outside of the Seminary’s walls

It amounted to borrowing the firehoses from our nearby neighbors

Of a Chicago firehouse

Turning it on in the middle of 55th street as people drove past

Walked past

Drenching them and yelling out at the same time

“Remember your Baptism!”

That freedom of Good News,

Encouraging us to immerse ourselves into this baptismal identity

Prompted more than once for us as seminarians

To travel through our baptismal font in the Chapel

Remembering our Baptisms

Your pastor here has also been known

To stand out in the middle of thunderstorms,

Marveling as the light interrupts the darkness

Welcoming the pelting of rain upon my very being.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters,

The Lord thunders over the mighty waters”

In these moments

We are thankful with the knowledge

No matter how we have failed others

Or even ourselves

We are still awashed in our identity

As Beloved Children of God

(pause)

Water is a reminder of who we are

And whose we are

“You are my Son

Whom I love

With you

I am well pleased.”

We too, hear the Words of the Creator God

In our Gospel text this morning,

For us!

Just as God pours out the Holy Spirit

Upon Jesus Christ

So too, we should hear God’s affirmation upon us!

Baptism is not something on a checklist that we just satisfy

Secured our seat, our place beyond eternity

Just as we are brought forth into this world

through sacred waters of life

The Word is vibrated within us

That God Loves us

That God in these waters of Baptism

CLAIMS US AS GOD’S OWN

In these times when our identity in this society,

Changes

Is Distorted

Is Unknown

There is nothing certain, sure and concrete-

We move from neighborhoods

We leave and travel between faith communities

Our work becomes economic survival instead of longevity

What is our anchor, our comfort in this life?

(pause)

Baptism was one of Martin Luther’s favorite subjects

Luther talks about the drowning,

Immersing

That Baptism frees us as people of faith

From the things that have the potential

To keep us from the eternal shinning stars of Light

And the overflowing, unconditional Love of God

Why do we as people of faith,

Run from those invitations of remembering our Baptism

Especially among the beloved community?

(leave the pulpit and stand center with the asperullim and bowl of water and talk about how we cringe when the pastor comes down the middle of the aisle flinging water)

Why are not we aware,

That Baptism is more than a sacred rite of passage,

A one time event to be checked off the list

Baptism is God’s work!

We pause and return to the Gospel of Luke this morning,

Where there is this noticeable absence of John baptizing Jesus

And yet, Jesus is baptized,

By the Holy Spirit!

The same Holy Spirit that is present with us!

The same Holy Spirit that continues the journey with us!

What Good News in this advocate we have in the Holy Spirit

What Good News that because God Loved Us

As God Loves God’s Only Son, Jesus Christ

That in both being birthed into this life,

And carried out of this life

We are cradled by the healing life giving waters

Of Baptism

Because of God’s mercy and grace,

And I cannot stress enough God’s Love

Regardless of what relationships in our lives which sometimes

We break

Or break us

God’s presence NEVER FAILS US

And GOD’S BOND WITH US

GOD’S MARK UPON US

When we make the sign of the cross

In the waters of Baptism

It is our IDENTITY

AS GOD’S PEOPLE

STANDING IN THE LIGHT,

hearing the Creator clearly

“YOU are my Child,

Whom I love

With YOU

I am well pleased.”

(pause)

Thanks Be to God.

New Year, New Journeys, Same Creator..and an Advanced Degree?

I believe that I have always done things against the grain.

Thinking multiculturally, thankful for the doors that have opened to me

Because of the One who Cradles, Created and Loves 

I want to have fun with this purpose and pathway the Creator has bestowed upon me

That means doing things, a lot differently…

Or as I like to say,

“Making it up as I go!”

Lape Bondye

New Year, New Traditions, Same Sacred Word

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

The Promises

The Hopes

The Challenges

Of this New Year before us

And as we continue our journey

How blessed are we, to know

That the Word has always and will continue to be

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord

Amen.

 (pause)

Howard Thurman,

one of the most influential theologians of Color

Penned a poem entitled

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,

when the star in the sky is gone,

when the kings and princes are home,

when the shepherds are back with their flocks,

the work of Christmas begins:

to find the lost,

to heal the broken,

to feed the hungry,

to release the prisoner,

to rebuild the nations,

to bring peace among the people,

to make music in the heart.

New Year’s Eve I found myself sharing the Gospel

With the Lutheran Student Movement students,

Students who are in this daily journey

Who are faced with the same questions

As we beloved,

Wondering how they can make an impact,

Where are they called to serve

Trying to figure out how they can live out their Faith

Actively living out the Good News to others,

The Good News that

The light shines in the darkness

And the darkness,

The darkness of the bitter fruit of hatred

That unfortunately we, as humanity

Seemingly can not wean ourselves from,

That darkness

Will not overcome us

The darkness that routinely invades our sacred spaces

From churches, to our homes, to the streets

Places where we are supposed to feel safe

From grocery stores, college dorms and malls

Places where we interact

Connect

with one another as community

The darkness that tells us our differences should keep us separated

That refuses to give us the permission to co-exist

To learn, to be educated, to mingle and dance with one another

As the Creator has called us, molded us, teaches us

(pause)

But humanity has this continuous issue,

Of NOT receiving God’s Grace!

Of NOT allowing ourselves to be vulnerable

To God’s WORD

“He was in the world,

and the world came into being through him;

yet the world did not know him.”

This world did not know Jesus Christ

When He engaged with those who were considers outcasts:

A Samaritan woman,

The invalid at the pool

The blind man

This world did not know Jesus Christ

When He spoke and taught,

About what their responsibilities were

to those who had not been

Welcomed-

The Gentile

The Immigrant

The so called faith-less

The world did not understand Jesus

When He fed multitudes

Through food,

And satisfied their hunger

With His Word

God’s Word

This world does not know Jesus Christ now,

When clearly Jesus calls us to be in relationship

Especially when we are in one another’s company

Especially when we encounter those

We don’t know

Especially when because of Jesus,

We are called to dig a little deeper into ourselves

Touching the core

Of what God has called us to

Because of HIM

 “But to all who received him,

who believed in his name,

he gave power to become children of God”

HIS NAME

Jesus extends the Grace and Mercy of the Living GOD

That believing in HIS NAME

GRANTS US PEACE

GRANTS US the right

To be

To be counted as essential

Vital to how life ebbs and flows

Regardless of who we are

It is not based on human decision

Or human will

Or how our skin is painted

Or how our language is colored

Or what worth we are measured up by human standards

Because of recognizing who Jesus IS

Because we hear Jesus’s name and know,

WE ARE LOVED

(pause)

That should be so simple to grasp, right?

But sometimes knowing that God Loves Us

Is not enough

Especially when the darkness crowds out the light

In those times when we feel abandoned

When we are ill

When we struggle with depression

When we don’t have access to resources

that will make this life

bearable

When we see others dancing and praising the Lord

And our feet, our very being,

Feels like concrete

When it seems that the flames of the Holy Spirit

Have dissipated

Because we cannot feel the presence of God

In Sacred Spaces

When even God’s Word seemingly leaves us empty-

And how can that be?

The Good News of God’s Promises are everywhere!

Jeremiah sings of them

The Psalms sings of them

But when we wake up each morning guarding our hearts

Because what we are bombarded with from this world

Our sorrows overflow,

And then we want to SEE GOD

No more words!

Have you found yourself crying out,

At the beginning of each new year,

ENOUGH GOD

WHERE ARE YOU!

(pause)

No one has ever seen God,

but the one and only Son,

who is himself God

and is in closest relationship with the Father,

has made him known.”

We know that Jesus Christ,

Was born,

Lived,

Taught

Healed

And Gave of Himself

For US

Because God LOVES US

And because of HIM

For each moment we experience pain and sorrow

There is a fellow sister or brother in Christ

Who comes with extended hands, and prayers,

And a listening ear.

For each moment we are abandoned and removed from comfort

There is a fellow sister or brother of Faith

Who extends hospitality of their home, their selves, their treasures

For each moment of hatred that spews from humanity

Who have forgotten that they too,

Are children of God

There are others,

Whether they are fellow followers of Jesus Christ

Who open their sacred spaces to immigrants fleeing death

Whether they are Muslims,

Who protect their Christian sisters and brothers as they pray

In hostile places

Whether they are people of faith,

Who live out the meaning of the Good News of Jesus Christ

On the streets

Standing up for those who have been abused and forgotten

Saying,

Not one more

Will we allow the Empire-who refuses to follow Jesus

To hurt those that Jesus has commanded us to love

This-this is the Good News

That the Word of God

Became just like us

To Love us eternally,

Unconditionally

Because of God.

(pause)

So, in this new year

Hear where God is calling you to serve,

To stretch,

To be.

Thanks Be to God.