A Change is Gonna Come

Grace and peace to you

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Let the faith of those

Who have nothing to lose,

Shake us loose

Bringing us closer

Into the fullness

Of the One,

Who practiced radical hospitality

Of being vulnerable

On the Cross

Amen.

 (pause)

Stories are effective snapshots

Weaving our collective experiences together

Until we are not sure where the individual strands of our lives

End, and the community begins.

(share the story about how during Advent services three years ago in the midst of MIC at Prince of Peace, a homeless man came into worship and sat among the faithful. In the midst of the prayers of intercession, he got up and wandered down the aisle, with this bundle in his hands. He approached the figures of Mary and the infant Jesus, and placed this bundle at Jesus’s feet. His face was a mixture of emotions, as if he was trying to express even in the midst of his pain that he was thankful for who Jesus was and is, and remains to be. As he walked back up the aisle, he reminded me of my husband’s grandfather-who during our visits to Kentucky and to his church, when the spirit moved him, he would raise his hands in glory, praising God.)

 We,

As the pastoral leadership did not stop service,

Or pause in our praying to correct him

Allowing this expression of faith to blossom in that sacred space,

As if exposing our fears,

Our doubts

Our hurts

Was natural.

(pause)

How would we react today,

If someone came down this aisle,

In the midst of service,

In the midst of prayers,

Lingered at the communion rail,

Wept before the cross,

Disrupted the normalcy that we come to expect in worship.

Who are we, beloved?

A church of saints, welcoming sinners?

Or

A church of sinners,

Welcoming our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ?

(pause)

The Gospel this morning,

Another example of expressing true faith

From someone who has no status

No citizenship

No community connection

No name worth remembering

No credentials

Nothing to loose,

By coming before the throne of grace

Before Jesus Christ

A woman,

Who has nothing,

Except for her love and respect

For this Son of God,

Called Jesus

A woman,

Who would be uplifted more in Jesus’s presence

Than even the disciples,

Who were chosen by Him

Than even the Pharisees

Who were highly educated,

Well versed in ritual

Privileged through the law

To be in that space with Jesus-

But Jesus sees her

“Do you see this woman?”

Knows who she is

That her life,

Her existence

Is just as essential

As everyone else

In Creation,

And because of who He is

She is empowered

To break the social taboos.

I wonder,

Why we as people of faith,

Cannot see her,

As a beloved child of God.

Because countless times throughout commentaries

And even through sermons,

It is her supposed sin,

That is recognized

Before her pain,

And suffering,

That those in the room are disgusted

By her presence

“She is a sinner”

What is her sin, exactly?

When our fellow sisters and brothers,

Don’t follow the norm,

As prescribe by humanity

So that we,

Not they

Are comfortable

Don’t adhere to the laws,

As translated by humanity

Even though we as humanity

Sometimes makes it difficult

For our fellow sisters and brothers

To even exist,

Or exercise their human and civil rights?

Don’t follow the social conformities

As demanded by humanity

See this pattern?

(pause)

Why then do we,

As humanity

Dehumanize them-

These,

Our neighbors,

Our community members

Whether they are known to us,

Or not?

Why then,

Do we rename them,

By their sin

By their supposed sin,

That we have damned them with

Until we have instituted legal ways,

To where we don’t have to be bothered

With these,

Broken

Outcast

People.

(pause)

And yet,

Her public outpouring of herself

Towards the One

Who would show the greatest hospitality

By giving up that which is most precious

His LIFE

Should give us pause,

Should even shame us.

(pause)

Because sometimes,

When we have reached that pinnacle,

Our position in life

We forget God

We are remiss in praising God

Delighting in God

It comes distasteful

With carefree abandon

To run down the aisle

With childlike joy,

Like KJ

Immersed in a moment of thanking and worshiping God

Enjoying that moment of FREEDOM

Because we are in a sacred space,

Among our sisters and brothers in Christ and in Love

Beloved,

Are we a church full of saints,

Or

A church of sinners,

Who are transformed

Through each step we take,

Towards each other

Towards the Cross

Towards the One who is WAITING

At the Table

For us.

(pause)

And maybe,

That’s it.

Maybe this unmentioned

Uninvited woman,

Who dared to become visible

In that place

Of Teachers,

Elders

Of the self-righteous

Was a reminder

Of those that they had chosen to ignore

Misuse

Reject

And in that moment

The tables were turned

Because Jesus

Without caring about her SIN

Without asking her to accept and acknowledge who he was

Without going through all the rigmarole to prove her humanity

BLESSED HER

FORGAVE HER

(pause)

Maybe,

That withered,

Homeless man

Who came in the midst of the community,

Of Prince of Peace,

That Advent Sunday morning,

Was,

Is a reminder

That humanity is horrible to one another

Too numerous times

Than we wish to confess

That we really don’t want to face that truth

That we want to shut out these very real stories

Of pain,

Of suffering

Of callousness

Of starvation

Because his presence,

Exposes our own hurts

Our own sorrow

Our own weaknesses

And that we come to the realization

That we,

Are not too much different

From one another

(pause)

And yet,

That is Good News

Because Jesus Christ sees us,

Sees our brokenness,

Sees our need,

Sees us weeping

Sees where we have gone astray,

And teaches us,

Reminds us

Uplifts us

And

LOVES US

“Your sins are forgiven”

In the midst of our lives,

THAT

That is the blessing

The affirmation

The healing

We so desperately,

Need

Jesus Christ loves us deeply,

And forgives us

Regardless.

(pause)

This past week,

In the midst of sacred community,

And conversations we were having

These lyrics from Sam Cooke’s song

Surfaced

It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die

‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky

It’s been a long, a long time coming

But I know a change gon’ come, oh yes it will

It reminded me of this unnamed woman,

Who had experienced all sorts of negativity

In those who should have embraced her,

Who perhaps, only had heard stories about Jesus

Wasn’t really sure,

Shaking

Weeping

Hoping

Praying

For some bit of declaration

That God loved her.

Your faith has rescued,

Preserved you

Go in peace.”

She stepped out on faith, beloved

Now,

We too,

Have heard Jesus bless us

Forgive us

Now, how can we

Change

Impact,

This world?

Thanks be to God.

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