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.

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