Alleluia, Christ has RISEN!

Grace and Peace to you Beloved!

The Stone has been rolled away

The Tomb is empty

Christ has RISEN!

Allelulia!

Amen.

(pause)

The world is off balance,

In one soul shattering moment

The heartbeat of the cosmos stopped-

Because as any grieving Parent cries,

The Creator surely cried out

As God’s Son gave of Himself

For all of Creation

And suddenly the hierarchical, oppressive order in this world

Which ruled, and trapped, and chained people

Who searched and followed and called out for liberation

This world collapsed

The ideas and lies

That this life is all there would ever be,

That there was no hope,

That God in Godself didn’t care about US

Was destroyed

Reality shifted,

The realization of who Jesus Christ is, was

And remains to be

Became the new norm

Anything and everything that attempted and blocked us

From being with the presence of the Creator God,

Was demolished.

Mass confusion,

Because what God had been proclaiming forever,

Through prophets

Through dreams

Through Jesus

Has come true,

God created a new covenant,

Through Jesus Christ

(pause)

At the end of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ

Satan is seen screaming,

Because he’s been denied

Jesus, as his prisoner

The place of Sheol,

Hell,

Was suddenly invaded,

Pried open

And Jesus Christ walked through those gates

The risen Christ was lifted up out of a place of abandonment

An abyss,

Informing that darkness where light never penetrates

Where evil festers

An existence of torture

That death was not the end,

For God’s Creation

For US beloved

We come from the Creator

Born in sacredness

Gifted with God’s breath of life

Emerging in this world through waters

Therefore we

BELONG

TO

GOD

Therefore we,

WILL RETURN TO GOD

And the Cross,

TRANSFORMED

It is a symbol of paradox

From death,

To LIFE

From condemning

To Restoring

To Living!

How amazing!

(pause)

So many people today mock us

As people of Faith

For this Cross

Why would we proudly wear a symbol of demise?

But they just don’t know

Why would we have the Cross etched on our heads?

Because, we proudly have been identified

Marked

AS GOD’S OWN

Why would we believe that the dead can be raised?

Dead is dead, right?

They just don’t know-

And this is the work we must do beloved!

It’s Easter Morning,

The Gospel must be TOLD

The Good News must be SPREAD

(pause)

Haven’t you wondered how astounding it must have been

When Mary.

Mary Magdalene

Joanna,

And all the other nameless faithful women

Came to the tomb,

Found it EMPTY

Found ANGELS

Remarking

Questioning

“Why do you look for the living,

Among the dead?”

And when these disciples of Jesus,

These women,

Run back to the community

Proclaiming the Good News,

But these words seemed to them an idle tale,

and they did not believe them”

Nonsense,

Leros, in the Biblical Greek means idle tale,

Leros happens to also be the root

Of our word, delirious

Crazy talk, from these grief stricken women, right?

Jesus raised from the dead?

Foolishness.

No one shouts Alleluia when they hear the Good News

No one says, “I knew it!” or sings praises to God

Even now,

Do we.

Hearing this Good News of Jesus Christ year after year

Shout with joy because we know,

Even in our weeping,

Our lamenting

Our vigil at the foot of the Cross,

Sunday comes

Bringing the Resurrection

Turning our lives upside down

Because God came and disrupted our lives

With LOVE

With MERCY

And with GRACE

Or do we just go through the motions,

Because this is what we are supposed to do,

We struggle with the reality of Resurrection power

With so many lives,

Lost.

We grapple with the reality of Resurrection power

In the midst of calamities

We hear the Gospel proclaimed

Jesus is raised,

But where is He now

In the midst of tragedies

Newness of life is impossible

Peace in this life is momentary

In this sacred space perhaps we experience the Resurrection

But outside those doors,

The world seems dead!

Dead, unmoving, lifeless, listless

It’s hard sometimes sharing the Good News,

We refuse to leave those tombs of heartache,

Of worries,

Of fears

Of doubts

The world refuses to leave its tomb,

Because the Resurrection turns its reality upside down,

They are stunned,

Flabbergasted,

Frightened.

(pause)

But then,

The Sun Shines,

And we hear clearly hear God calling US

Out of the TOMB

Out of those places where (word/line)

And because of Jesus Christ-

We know death is not the end

We know that the kingdom of God is here,

Right here

Even through the muck, and the garbage and the unbelief

And the sarcastic and scornful reaction

When we stop people and say

“I have SEEN THE LORD!”

“Jesus is RISEN!”

(pause)

(inviting people to baptism, to come out of the tomb and to be filled with the Holy Ghost Resurrection Power)

Thanks be to GOD.

Holy Saturday poetry (influenced by the untitled)

What does Easter mean to you?

Does it mean that we can finally rest from our labors?

That we celebrate the rising of the Son-

And Monday morning we return doing the same…

Wallowing in..

Dressing the same

Talking the same…

Because we think we saved?

Just because Jesus died,

Don’t mean we can act a fool

Or does this Easter Journey

Find our souls crying out for JOY

Find us caught up in the SPIRIT at the empty tomb

Shouting to the darkness

That its defeated

That there is HOPE

And Jesus ain’t left us

Forgotten us

Forsaken us

But what remains with us

Is HIS Commandment

To LOVE one another

Even when we can’t stand each other

Even when we have to get in one another’s faces

Calling one another out on the injustice

The bullshit

The racism

The violence

The evil

That we do

Cause we aint perfect

But that’s what the horizon where the veil remains

Beyond that-there is PEACE

Right now,

We got GRACE

Here

Tell the devil to walk the %^(^( on

Into the abyss

Because the CROSS casts a Resurrection Shadow

Basking in the LIGHT

The Blinding LIGHT

OF the

I AM

Love is a Beautiful Thing: Maundy Thursday Sermon

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Our lives seem as fleeting

But the Love we share,

The Love we give

The Love that we proclaim

Because of Jesus

Will live on

And on.

Amen.

 (pause)

This night,

This moment

Is all about new commandments

This is what Maundy in Latin means.

This is a time for penitence

For sharing a meal together as community

For compassion towards one another

But,

This act of baring our vulnerable selves

Uncovering an ordinary part of us,

Whether encased in leather or canvas

Our feet,

Which have carried us up stairs

Across store aisles

Down airport corridors

And to the Table,

Where we are Fed

(pause)

Or our hands,

Sometimes protectively covered in suede and cotton

Working on housework and homework

Digging in gardens

Receiving birthday gifts

And accepting Bread

(pause)

Our feet and hands,

To be washed

Here,

Of all places

Always leaves us squeamish, right?

See, it’s different when we do this for children

Washing little fingers covered in yogurt and in paint

Washing little toes stuck in mud and in dirt

Helping for little ones in an act of necessity and of love

But this foot washing here in the Gospel,

Is an act of service!

Is an act of love!

(pause)

How many of us can recount

Of how we have tended to who have been sick in hospitals

How we’ve sponge-washed

Brushed hair

Anything to make our loved one

Feel as human as they were able?

How many of us cared for those

Who through debilitating diseases

Regardless of age

Who could not do for themselves?

How many of us have washed their fragile bodies

Nursed them ourselves so that they could continue to breathe, to live

With dignity?

(pause)

Perhaps then, it is natural

The nervousness

The hesitancy

The embarrassment

Uncovering our feet

Extending our hands

To have gentle water caress over

Sometimes I am under the impression,

That we as children of God,

Think this last act of community

That Jesus did for those He loved,

Was only a one time occurrence

A onetime obligation

(pause)

Sometimes I also am painfully aware

That Maundy Thursday services,

Are worrisome

Almost upsetting

For our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ

Because of unworthiness that burdens,

burrows in their souls

(pause)

How besides himself was Judas surely at that moment!

Knowing that Jesus would wash his feet,

Feet that would run,

To fetch,

To lead those

Who would arrest, who would beat, who would maim Jesus.

By washing his feet, was Jesus acknowledging his sin?

And forgiving him,

As Jesus forgives us through Water and the Word?

(pause)

Sometimes I am aware,

There are those who will never approach the Table,

To be Fed,

Or the chair,

So their feet and hands can be washed

Because they feel as if we only see them

Only acknowledge them by their sins

Mary Magdalene,

A follower of Jesus,

When Jesus cast out seven demons out from her

She was a disciple,

She had to be present that night

Did Jesus dare to touch her feet,

A woman?

Feet that tirelessly followed Jesus,

Through dusty roads,

To that ominous cross

To that foreboding tomb

What did it mean for Jesus to also include her in that sacred moment?

(pause)

Peter said to him,

“You will never wash my feet.”

 Jesus answered,

“Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”

Jesus’s response to Peter seems harsh

Peter was not focused and listening

Not understanding, as we sometimes fail to understand

Is that this is how Jesus Christ,

The Son of God

The Messiah

Cares and loves His Own!

These disciples who were gathered,

And us, beloved

We who are gathered in this sacred space

(pause)

Nothing,

NOTHING

Can separate us from God

From Jesus Christ

From the Holy Spirit

This action

Of washing His disciples feet

Is the response to the betrayal of this broken world

A world which washed its own hands,

A sign of removing itself,

A callous sign of being done with relationships,

That those who clung to the false power of the world

Refusing to invest itself in one another

(pause)

This is Jesus response to the rejection of this world, now

Through racism, classism, discrimination or just plain hatred

How many feet have been washed and cared for,

Worn from marches, from walking,

Carrying the message of the Gospel

Into the streets

Where it’s often muted

How many hands have had to be soothed,

From passing our blankets, sharing food, sharing peace

With those who the world tosses away?

How many hands and feet were washed this week, this month:

After crawling, running from the ruins in Brussels

Running away from sacred places violated with bombs in Nigeria

Fleeing the darkness that descended on a beach in the Ivory Coast

(pause)

This,

This act of washing other’s feet

is Jesus’s overflowing,

Everlasting LOVE

Through ACTION

This is what Jesus calls us to do

LOVE ONE ANOTHER

(pause)

How do you love?

How have you shared love this week?

How have you chosen to love?

(pause)

When has it been difficult to Love,

Difficult to forgive,

Easier to remain angry,

Hurt?

(pause)

“Do you understand what I have done for you?”

The Good News of Jesus Christ is

Jesus comes and washes us,

Washes the feet that will run and proclaim

Christ has risen

Jesus comes and washes our feet,

Even when we run away

Abandon Jesus

Through this loving act of baptism,

Jesus blesses all of us even when we throw away our relationship with God

Jesus leaves us with the command

To love one another

Jesus’s act of service to us,

Through love

Doesn’t exclude anyone

Even when their sins seem so much greater than our own.

(inviting the congregation to partake in this sacred act as they are called)

Thanks Be to God

 

Sunday is on the WAY!

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Problems

Troubles

Suffering

Creep and cloud our lives

Just as the darkness on that Friday

But just wait,

Cling to your faith,

Wrap yourselves in God’s Love

Because Sunday’s on the way.

Amen.

(pause)

Our Lenten journey pauses at the crossroads

The remnants of palms clutter the road

The echoes of “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”

Lingers

And just that quick

Humanity’s fickleness saturates the atmosphere,

We have forgotten about the Grace and Mercy

In and with and because of Jesus Christ!

This ancient society was so wrapped up in this persona

Jesus the King!

Jesus the Sovereign!

Jesus the Savior of the World!

And yes, these things are truth.

But,

Not grasping that Jesus is much more

Than about the business of condemning or judging

(pause)

Those who followed Him

Were waiting for Jesus to rise up,

And destroy their oppressors

The invaders

Caesar!

Not realizing that Jesus Christ came to destroy

the evil that lurks within them

(pause)

We, too cling to this idea of God as Vengeance

Jesus as Mighty!

Jesus as Ruler!

We wait for Jesus to eliminate everyone

who doesn’t acknowledge that He

Is the only Way, the Truth, The Life

Not adhering to Jesus’s Word-

To Love one another,

Even in our difficulties

Even in our differences

Not wanting to see Jesus as commoner,

Who instructed His disciples to carry nothing

But themselves

Who through His example, we should live as such

Jesus as Outcast,

sharing and being with those who were not welcomed at our tables

Jesus as Healer,

Healer of all,

Healing and raising from the dead, a woman’s son

Neither one of them believers in Jesus,

Or even knowing Jesus

And the idea that Jesus Christ, the Son of God

Invites ALL, all of us in with Him

Regardless of how we worship the Divine

Is frightening

And challenges our prejudices.

(pause)

Instead, we in the crowd, cower to the demands of leaders shouting

Shrieking

Howling

“Crucify Him!”

Crucify Him,

Because this Jesus refuses to conform

to their hierarchy and their demands

Crucify Him,

Because Jesus refuses to get into that box

Which holds our idealistic portrait of Him

Crucify Him

Because Jesus has the gall that we are really supposed to follow Him?

Jesus is just a figuredhead,

We’re saved, right?

So then that excuses our behavior

And we can get on with this dependency of human authority

Of self-indulgence

Of egotism

Forsaking sacredness enveloped in Love

Forsaking this gift of Jesus Christ who through His sacrifice,

Removes all of our sins,

So then there are no boundaries

Keeping us from one another

Keeping us from God

(pause)

Jesus Christ

His Commands

His Teachings

His Righteous Anger, yes!

Jesus was Angry,

Jesus was Sorrowful-

But who Jesus IS

Jolts us into the reality

That WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL

That WE ARE NOT GOD

No matter how pitifully we attempt to exalt ourselves

Or misrepresent God, Our Redeemer

(pause)

And when we reject Jesus’s consistent,

Certain,

Unwavering LOVE and Forgiveness

Our lives,

The circumstances

Makes us feel as if we are being punished,

Forced to march before the world hauling our burdens

Weighing down our souls

Tortured,

Because the world we tried to embrace, discards us

We find ourselves weeping,

Crying

Alone.

 “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress”

How many of us have cried this out?

How many wonder, if Jesus Himself cried this out?

Why is that hard to imagine?

Jesus Christ, many argue, knew of His mission that God sent Him

But again,

If Jesus was to experience our lives as human,

Would then part of who He was in that moment,

Experience the shock,

Of a people

With no compassion?

(pause)

“Our senses attach all the scorn,

All the revulsion,

All the hatred

That our reason attaches to crime, to affliction…

Everybody despise the afflicted to some extent,

Although practically,

No one is conscious of it.”

These words from Simone Weil,

A French Christian mystic and activist,

Pinpoints the astonishment of how foul humanity can be

Reverberates and carries the lament in the Psalms

“I have been forgotten like one who is dead,

I have become like a broken vessel..

As they scheme together against me,

As they plot to take my life.”

Suddenly,

When we have gone against the grain,

When we have displeased this world

Because we decide that those who struggle with mental illness

Need to be treated with dignity,

Because we decide that those who have broken the law,

Need to be treated as human

Because we decide that those who have given of themselves,

Our elders,

Need to be treated with respect

Cared for,

And that the laws that protect the able bodied citizen

Should also protect those who are consider least of these,

When we actually live out our faith generously

Just as Jesus Christ extended and gave of himself

Suddenly,

Just as Jesus,

The world wants to crucify us,

Not in the violent way that Jesus’s gave of His life

But,

The world wants to make us an example

The world works humanity in a frenzy,

Pointing fingers,

Telling us

We are wrong.

(pause)

At a peaceful protest this past week,

Where Lutherans and Presbyterians were joined together,

Singing hymns of peace and justice

Being that presence that Jesus Christ calls us to be

People walked up to them,

Screamed in their faces

Questioning Women Pastors, in their clerical collars

That their ordination was not valid

Telling others that they needed to go back and read the Bible

About the wrath of God

Telling them they were on the wrong side,

That they would perish in Hell,

Merely because they were standing up for all,

Merely because they were following Jesus Christ,

And Christ command,

To Love one another

And I can not stress that enough

Loving One Another,

As God, Our Creator, Our Parent loves US

Is NOT A SUGGESTION

IT’S A COMMAND

You don’t get to pick and choose who you love,

Or for that matter who gets forgiveness

We ALL COME FROM GOD

And we shall all RETURN TO GOD

(pause)

And isn’t that Good News!

“But I trust in YOU, O LORD

Make your face shine on your servant,

Save me in your steadfast LOVE”

That benediction blesses us,

Goes out with us,

“The Lord make His face shine on you,

And be gracious to you”

The Good News of Jesus Christ

Is that whatever we do,

Whatever we don’t do

WE are FORGIVEN

When Jesus broke bread with His Disciples,

He shared of HIMSELF WITH ALL OF THEM,

Even Judas,

Even though Jesus KNEW of the betrayal that had to come-

For the fulfillment of God’s Word,

Jesus Christ broke bread and gave it to all of them,

To all of US

Jesus shared of the wine,

Just as His blood

Because God Loved Him,

And US

Even when,

We are horrible to one another,

Even as

These people were horrible to Jesus Christ

And still Jesus cries out

“Father forgive them,

For they know not what they do!”

Jesus Christ is the one afflicted,

Scorned

Brutalized

But Jesus Christ trusted in God

Make your face shine on your servant

Save me in your steadfast love!”

(pause)

“Into your hands,

I commit my Spirit!”

When we are at our low point,

When we have been beaten,

Brutalized

Crushed,

Somewhere, deep within us

We call out to God,

To come quickly,

And enfold us into Godself,

Just as God

Who reached down into death itself

And would enfold His Son

So don’t worry,

No fear,

Death is not the end

And

Sunday, is on the way.

Thanks Be to God.

Mary and Martha, Perpetua and Felicity

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Be open how the Creator God wants to use you

Be bold in how you serve others

No matter how foolish,

Or how costly it appears

Because all you are doing,

Is what Jesus Christ has done for us

Something so costly,

So foolish

And yet, full of Love, and Grace.

Amen.

 (pause)

 What new wisdom can be garnered,

What is the Gospel saying to us,

Especially a Gospel so well known before us this morning?

(pause)

Following Jesus in the command to love one another

Doing ministry with and for those who have been cast aside

Concerned for others, who are struggling to exist and being seen as essential

Serving as an advocate,

In places where people have been forgotten and ignored

Can be exhausting

Especially in the here and now,

When it seems that the love that has been given to us

Has been tossed aside,

And the fellowship we should have

With our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ and in Faith

Has been broken.

Suddenly it seems we are living in two separate societies,

One that tries each moment to live into an intentional reality

Listening to each other’s histories, our ideas, and how our faith,

Whatever that might be

Grounds us for the common good

And one which would rather push all of the rest of us out into that outer circle,

Using faith as a weapon to divide, to malign and hate

Their picture of God as a conquerer

Their idea that God wants us to assimilate,

To specifically their narrow criteria, their values, their view of Grace

Leaving us frustrated

And sometimes we wonder and repeat-

Is this even worth it?

Should we just hunker down until Jesus returns?

Because no one is clearly hearing the Gospel!

And then God surprises us

(pause)

“God works in mysterious ways.”

We’ve all heard this cliché

And yet there is truth in this statement

Because we have witnessed how God moves  God’s people

Unexpectedly.

Through those fellow sisters and brothers that we would never have anticipated

And that sometimes we do not see the significance

Of their sacrifice

Through their actions

In their ministry

Expressing their faith

In their calling

(pause)

Humanity has it fixated in our minds

That the only way to be recognized

Is to accomplish and contribute to humanity, in a massive way

Getting our name in lights and down on paper

Advancing us economically and benefiting us, us meaning humanity

Exclusively,

Never mind that some of our progress, digresses this Creation,

So then

Actively living out our faith,

Impacting others’ lives

For the sake of Love and Mercy,

24/7!

Is regulated to the hippies and the Jesus Freaks

(pause)

I wonder if Mary and Martha could be considered Jesus Freaks

Mary and Martha,

In our Gospel this morning

Their presence alone was a testament

Blessing, anointing the feet of one who was seen as so prominent as a leader

Prestigious in His teachings,

Opening people’s mind to the power of God’s Word

Controversial because of who He claimed to be,

And what that meant for those who gathered around Him

Listened to Him

Followed Him

(pause)

Approaching and essentially touching someone of such reputation

Embracing someone as if they were familiar, like family

Especially by those who was considered of a low or sub class

Was inappropriate

Particularly if it was a woman

See, women were not allowed to anoint men-

Samuel anointed Saul as Israel’s first king

Male Popes anointing male emperors throughout Western history

And so forth

Even more unfitting,

A woman insinuating herself in a public place

Where her presence was more often than not, ignored

Using a part of herself which was deemed so precious

Her hair,

Which was seen as the only commodity

that gave any woman value in the eyes of society

as a way of showing hospitality and care-

(pause)

We here at Redeemer show hospitality, right?

When a family is hurting because of their grief

When a family is celebrating because of joy in their lives

When a new Pastor comes into these doors,

The love that pours out through our generosity-

Is astounding,

We love to share through food,

I feel the love every time one of you share a homemade dish,

Or when Don insists I join them at Gabe’s after church.

(I’m trying to eat healthy, ya’ll!)

(pause)

But this is how the beloved community cares for one another!

When we are working tirelessly for an end to issues

That affect our communities,

When we recognize those in our midst,

Whose call it is to be that voice,

To share the Good News!

Just as Mary and Martha knew clearly who Jesus was,

And knowing that He too, needed compassion,

Because if Jesus was to experience our lives,

Then it’s not hard to imagine Jesus being weary

From healing, speaking, gathering, helping

(pause)

Mary and Martha,

The ones who would carry the Good News

That Jesus Christ had risen,

And would not be believed by the disciples

Mary and Martha,

Who chose to follow Jesus,

Following this “Way” which was ridiculed by the Romans

And disputed by the Jewish Rabbis

Who were alarmed, terrified at Jesus’s presence

Because their power that they thought was in their grasp

Would be shaken

Reminded that they were not the center of attention

Nor could they ever be the savior of the people

(pause)

Perpetua and Felicity

Two women who you may or not know

Two women who were baptized in “The Way”

Who were damned for their beliefs

Belief in the One who through death

Gave to us unexpected hope-

Life everlasting

Perpetua and Felicity,

Forbidden to follow their Faith,

Forbidden to follow Jesus

Through threat of death,

Refused to convert

Conform to society expectations

Clung to the Cross etched upon their very being

Their example,

Of standing on their faith,

Knowing the Creator stood with them

Can unexpectedly inspire others to courageously live out their calling

(pause)

Just as these four women,

Anselm, Marguerite and Regina, Judith

Women that we would have never encountered,

These, the Daughters of Charity

Aiding the poor, the forgotten without recognition

Caring for those whom a broken society refuses to acknowledge

How they existed in unfortunate war torn Yemen

And how because they were a physical, public presence

Of the Mercy of God,

As Christ’s followers,

Because they were bold to proclaim-

More than that,

I regard everything as loss

 because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”

They did not back down even under the oppressive regime

They would not recant who they were,

And so who will care for them now?

Just as we care for those who have closed their eyes to this world,

Who will anoint these martyrs with oil?

Just as Mary anointed Jesus,

For what would lie ahead,

For what awaited Him on the Cross.

(pause)

Sometimes it is very hard to be a follower of Christ

We take a gamble and break open vials of oil,

Or precious water

Or our money

Or our time

Or our resources

Pouring out as a way of blessing,

Professing our love for others,

Signifying our dedication to each other

And we do this work,

Not knowing what the end result will be

Doing ministry here through out these sacred walls,

And even outside,

We will face difficulties

Perhaps not as severe

as these four nuns who were murdered in Yemen this week

because of their faith

Perhaps not as Perpetua and Felicity

who were martyrs for remaining rooted and unashamedly in their faith

Perhaps not even as Mary and Martha

who refused to stop talking and praising and being close to Jesus Christ

But,

We do struggle,

There is so much we can offer this community beyond this doors

And even as we worry about our small youth group

And Sunday School

As we are beside ourselves as our members have left

And some joining the Church Triumphant

Instead of worrying

How about we watch God work,

In those unexpected ways

(pause)

God shows up amidst the crowd of faithful,

Who stand as a public witness

Shouting, pushing back the darkness that Dr. King spoke of

Reaching out to physically care for others,

Whether through the gift of food,

Or the gift of linking their arms with others

For protection and solidarity

For someone to know they are not alone

God shows up in those who are broken

Who maybe have broken laws,

Or broken a bond

But when the bread is torn into two and offered,

They see that God cares and God Loves and God feeds us,

And they want to give back as they are able

God shows up in sinners

In you and me,

Because wherever we go,

We have the power through the Holy Spirit

To share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

That Jesus has not abandoned us,

Just leaving us a desperate situation

Of caring for the poor, the downtrodden

But that through caring for those who are along this life’s journey-

Through anointing the sick, wrapping up those who are cold,

Embracing those who are weary, providing for those who are empty handed

We are doing for them, as Mary did for Jesus

Mary anointed Jesus without a thought

We are called to care for one another

without thought to how much its going to cost

Or whether we are going to get laughed or snubbed

Yes, our programs may only reach out to a few,

Ideas that spring forth may wilt

So will we declare it a loss?

Will we complain and moan

That we misused our time,

Our money,

Will we grumble about why one of our fellow sister or brother

Has dragged us into doing ministry for people

We think that its all a waste

That its more of an embarrassment

That we should just model ourselves like everyone else around us

Who doesn’t rock the boat

Or disrupt the normality

Or we worry more about our status,

Our place in line

What the neighbors will say

That we need to keep a low profile

That we need to live up to the standards of this world,

Which will abandon us each and every time!

Or will we simply do

What God has called us to do?

(pause)

Thanks Be to God

What about Judas? A Question of Forgiveness

Grace and Peace to you

My sisters and brothers in Christ

We have all stood in the place

Of the Prodigal Son

We have fallen away

From the embrace of God

Away from the community of faith

But each time we return

The Creator runs to us

Loving us

And giving us,

Grace

Through His Son,

Jesus Christ Our Savior and Lord

Amen.

 ‘Don’t it always seem to go,

That you don’t know what you got

Until its gone-‘

Sacred words and truth telling

Can be found not only in the Gospel

But the message can be found in the ordinary

Because we are quick to forget

And quick to rely on the human made

Which crumbles in an instant

And when we have destroyed something beautiful

Fingers are pointed

Painful words are used

Especially as labels

Labels that stick to our being

Describing us as less than

Worthless

Squanderer

Unjust

Undeserving

Which welts up our skin

Never mind the Cross

However faded

However dusty

However permanent upon us

Humanity attempts to strip that one identifying mark on us

As part of the beloved community

Miss Erykah Badu sings,

‘If we were made in His imagine,

Then call us by our names.’

Instead of renaming us

As a Judas

Judas, that beloved disciple

Who humanity has judged to be unforgiveable

Never mind that Jesus Himself never condemned Judas

“Woe to you, that you were born”

(pause)

So imagine the disciples

Abused,

Chained

Imprisoned

Martyred

In this life,

Now gathered with the saints

Watching perhaps, Judas coming into view

Watching perhaps, the Creator God stepping from the cosmos

Wrapping,

Enveloping

Welcoming Judas

Home.

And I wonder

If they experienced a nanosecond of human perplexity

Of why?

Why was forgiveness bestowed upon this prodigal son?

(pause)

And I know that our Gospel this morning is about an unknown prodigal son

And not particularly focused in on Judas,

But,

Both discarded the lessons and the love embedded within

Seized the resources, and frivolously tossed them for egotistical gain

Recognized the error of their ways

And began a journey driven by desperation

Reaching for redemption and forgiveness

One groveled in the earth, accepting his perceived fate to be a slave

One returned to the earth, accepting his fate of death.

(pause)

Beloved, we have heard this well told parable time and again

And memories flood about what meanings surround this story

Of the Prodigal Son,

And I am sure we’ve taken this parable,

And applied it to the prodigal sons and daughters

We have encountered in our lives

Children who have been wasteful with the richness they have been given

The richness in the lessons, and the time, and the teachings of Sunday School

Who finished Confirmation classes, and seemingly left the Church

Disregarding the community of faith which nurtured them

Instead challenging all of the traditions, the rules, the laws of the wider Church

Seemingly clinging to everything that fed their ego in this world

Rebelling against the comfortable norm that we have resigned ourselves to

And then

There is a desire to return

Life has left a sour taste in their mouth

Maybe they have not found the answers in fleeting wealth

Maybe their faith search has left them with more questions

Maybe the world has grown too harsh

Maybe they have gambled everything that should have been dear to them

Maybe they just have been released from prison

Or a Halfway house

Or a shelter

Maybe its been 90 days and their clean and sober

Maybe the voices have stop beating them about the head

Maybe they’ve found the strength to come out of hiding

And all they want, is to be a part of something

Hoping that if they throw themselves at our feet

They will be enfolded and accepted

Maybe they are trying to reset and reboot their lives

Maybe they just want to know that someone gives a damn

Never mind that the Cross

However frayed

However worn

Clearly is marked

Upon who they are

Because no matter how far they fall

No matter how we fail

We are always welcomed back Home

And that is what this Lenten journey is, beloved

We, just like the Prodigal Son

Throw our temper tantrum towards God

Because we found out God is not our fairy godmother

Merely existing to grant our wishes,

So that our lives can be easy

Because we didn’t do what we were told

We, just like the Prodigal Son

Complain that following the commandments of Jesus Christ

To love one another

To actually be in community

Is too hard

Because it is easier to reject , to hate

(pause)

We, just like the Prodigal Son

Run away from the Light and Love of Our Parent

We would rather sit at a table that feeds our glorified self-image

But then,

There is emptiness

And then

The tears, which wreck our selves

The shame

The begging

Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you;

 I am no longer worthy to be called yours

treat me like one of your hired hands.”

Does God condemn us as the world does?

As perhaps we deserve?

NO

God drags us into God’s arms

Regardless of what we have done!

The Good News is that just as this unknown prodigal son

When we follow the well-known, well lit pathway Home

Because Home is where Love and Mercy and Peace prevail

When we return home, a sinner

God Loves Us and Greets US as if we were Heroes!

Because here, beloved is where God wants us!

HOME, with GOD!

When we are reckless with our lives,

With what God has given to us,

The ability to serve, and serve others

To do for others

The Creator God stretches out of Godself

Embracing us with songs of Thanksgiving

And the Good News is,

There is nothing we can do to make up for what we have done

Or the fact we maybe have not lived up to what God has in store for us

And that is alright!

Because that is what God’s Grace and Mercy MEANS!

(Pause)

But sometimes the road home

Is difficult to navigate

Treacherous to travel

Because we have to empty of ourselves

Live into the humbling reality

That we have truly been unsuccessful

That we have been wrong,

And somehow we have hurt God by hurting those who love us so

Judas in desperation wanted healing from his wounds that were self-inflicted

He wanted perhaps to know the Peace he had known

when he had walked alongside Jesus Christ

That this atrocious act he had committed

That there would always be a place at Home for him

Sometimes, when we have clawed our way to the top,

Casting aside friendships and relationships for one moment of glory

And see the devastation in our wake,

That we created

Out of despair we claw for reconciliation

Within ourselves,

Because we can no longer live with who we have become

Just as many prodigal sisters and brothers in Christ

Who have come to the conclusion that they too, are not worthy of forgiveness

And instead, take their precious gift and resource of life

And throw it away

But the Good News is,

Even when they have been tricked

Neglected

Battered by the lies of this world

When they too, walk down that same pathway towards Home

Their souls, just like the prodigal’s son clothing

Tattered

Ripped

Worn

The Creator God, who loves US all

Runs to welcome them

As if they are as precious as the wind of life blown into us at birth

Covering them with new clothes

Of stars eternal

Of new life everlasting

Of forgiveness and mercy.

(pause)

So many unknowns, right?

Did these brothers reconcile?

Did the younger son learn his lesson?

Did the father uplift his older son?

Was Judas forgiven?

Such a mystery-

But what is clear,

When we have failed,

God forgives

When we have faltered

God forgives

And because of Jesus Christ,

There is always a place

At the Table

At Home

For Us.

Thanks Be to God.

 

 

 

And Now, A Commercial Break

Shiny, happy Pastor, right? So sometimes all videos are not made equal but what is more important is how the Word is deflecting off of people who do not want to consume Good Food, Soul Food-because taking in what the Creator is calling us to, to that hard work, sometimes is a difficult pill to swallow. We refuse to let go of the sweet, surface, feel good Gospel-because that means we must emerge from our comfort zones, our security blankets and be a part of the sacred, Beloved Community.