Light. Darkness. Hope.Transformation

(Children’s Sermon: Invite the children forward, greeting them. Then ask them if you can teach them a skit that you learned at Summer Camp, specifically LOMC. Gather them up in a line, and tell them to dance in place while singing their name or shaking a tambourine while doing the same. Then ask them, what if someone came around and laughed at them, and pointed and spoke about them rather negatively-how would they feel. Then ask them what happens when someone comes after the bully, and sees them sad and goes to them and says “YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD!” And how would that make them feel, and then they would go to the next person, and the next and so on? Ask them to process-what have we learned here: 1) That we are Children of God, and because we are immersed in God’s Light, we can’t keep it or hold it to ourselves, and therefore we have to go out and remind others, and that is living out our faith! So give the children the task of going out and reminding others that they are too, children of God!)

 

(pause)

When did you, beloved

Fully realize that YOU

Were a Child of God?

How was that cemented along your spiritual journey,

Into who you are?

The roots, many of us agree

Were planted within us,

As small children in Sunday School

Affirmed publicly as we received gifts of first Bibles

And that moment of truth,

When the Table was opened to us,

Receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Was it in that moment

That we truly felt we were children of God?

I wonder,

Did the disciples experience this same unbridled joy,

Suddenly they were acknowledged as children of God,

When Jesus called to them,

Invited them to walk alongside Him

Embraced them as fellow brothers,

In this moment,

Jesus Christ

Came off of the pathways

Of these various roads of Life

Into the midst of God’s people,

Who needed to feel the presence of God,

Who needed to hear God’s Voice

(pause)

When have we come to the realization,

That we were children of God?

Has it come in those prophetic moments,

Witnessing our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ,

In Faith,

In Love

Their actions,

Unselfish

And therefore impacting our lives!

Because of what they do for us,

The truth of how much we are connected to one another,

Beyond family lineage

Or social location and context,

BUT because of our common bond

That extends from Creator God?

(pause)

Stories, are important,

They give a snapshot on how the presence of the Creator, Our Redeemer

Molds and shapes our lives,

And how each step was guided,

And the breath of how the Holy Spirit fills us,

Even when we sometimes wander off into the mists

Many of my faith experiences,

Were magnified throughout Seminary,

And one such experience that I can elude to,

The moment I felt truly,

A Child of God.

(pause)

During my second year of Seminary,

I attended a conference, if you will

Called

The Congress on Urban Ministry,

At SCUPE

Which is a small, ecumenical, urban seminary located in the heart of Chicago

This Congress or conference,

Was a gathering of churches, pastors, seminarians and the like

Concentrating on Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence;

Proclaiming that violence doesn’t just exist on our streets

But sometimes sadly,

Occupies the human heart,

In our human made systems

And immersed in our public policy-

I am sure,

In the time of the disciples,

Although the violence was not as great as perhaps we think of now,

There was violence in the human heart,

As the Roman Empire did not seek reconciliation,

Restoration

And fellowship with those they suppressed, and lorded over.

The systems set up now,

That divide and are divisive,

Are a part of the same old story,

Because your status in the ancient community,

Depended a lot on human made laws,

With no forgiveness in them,

That those ancient Elders and Rabbis

Seemingly had forgotten they were,

Children of God

(pause)

This conference was pushing for

A proclamation,

That we as Children of God

Indeed can,

Live together as a collective, cohesive humanity,

Especially as we think about today,

If we as Christ’s followers

Are dedicated to social transformation

Then it can only be accomplished through PEACE

And we must live that out!

(pause)

Quite frankly,

Up until that moment,

As I struggled in my faith journey,

EVEN in seminary,

I did know I was a Child of God,

I rarely lived this reality out!

And then,

I had the opportunity to experience this fully,

When I encountered two phenomenal Elders in their own right,

Rev. Dr. James Forbes, who had continued Dr. King’s message,

Who had refused to give up the fight from his pulpit,

And out on the streets as a public witness

And Father Michael Pflager, whose ministry and dedication of his church and community,

Continued to astound me, even today.

(pause)

Part of the public action during the Congress,

As participants we were to march from our location at a church downtown,

Towards the State of Illinois building,

Raising our voice and our presence,

For peace.

Both Dr. Forbes and Father Pflager, along a small delegation

Planned to deliver and hopefully speak to Gov. Quinn,

Our collective initiative, in conjunction with a bill

That would be soon presented to the Illinois General Assembly,

Speaking to we as a faith community and our hopes at its passing

To help combat the violence bleeding into the streets,

Promoting peace

And unifying those in many neighborhoods,

Through advocacy.

The organizers of this march asked for two participants of the conference,

To volunteer to go along with Dr. Forbes and Father Plager.

Somehow,

I found my hand in the air,

Suddenly,

I found myself joined shoulder to shoulder with others,

Who were not afraid to expose publicly their faith

And suddenly,

My soul MOVED!

(pause)

I wonder,

What stirred and moved Jesus

To begin His ministry?

As people of Faith,

How often do we ponder about HOW Jesus’s ministry began

Jesus’s ministry was not on an automatic timer;

Routinely we are amiss in remembering,

That Jesus Christ took on our nature,

Our humanness

Our emotions

Even, dare say,

Our flaws.

And right after Jesus’s experience in the wilderness

His encounter with evil,

Jesus learns of John’s plight incarcerated,

John, His disciple

His brother

His friend

John,

Because of his civil disobedience

Because of his preaching the Good News,

That Jesus Christ is come

To shatter the status quo

To interrupt the path of the wicked

John

Is made an example

And this is when Jesus,

Begins His ministry,

“Repent,

Change your minds,

For the kingdom of God

Has come near.”

(pause)

Dr. King, Jr

Started his own ministry towards nonviolence,

And peace

And civil disobedience

After Rosa Parks refused

Another day,

To have her humanity questioned

“the people who sat in darkness

    have seen a great light,

and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death

    light has dawned.”

(pause)

The question before us now,

How will we be motivated,

To immerse ourselves in ministry,

However that evolves for us,

As people of Faith.

We are wading through the difficulty

Of not recognizing the direct connection,

Between what we do

And what we believe.

And then we experience and witness someone

Who unashamedly steps into that Epiphany LIGHT

Living publicly as a Child of God,

By living out their faith unselfishly

Because of the Love

The GRACE

The FORGIVENESS

That comes through this TABLE

That seeps into us

Through God!

(pause)

Will we remember

Who we are

And what we are called to do?

God’s Call for us, beloved

Is for us to be

CHILDREN OF GOD!

(pause)

Such Good News,

That Jesus Christ has come,

Bringing the Kingdom of God,

Bringing us HOPE

And the Good News is that,

Jesus Christ stands there,

Calling to us

Never letting Go

Wrangling us in,

INVITING US to walk with HIM!!

(pause)

We are Children of God,

EMPOWERED THEN

Because of Christ’s Grace and Mercy,

To Cast our own lines out there,

To be fishers of people!

Will we wait on the shores,

Hoping for a bite?

Will we wander just a little bit out there

In the shallow end

Using ripped nets?

Or,

Are we willing

To dive deeply

Following Jesus Christ,

Towards radical transformation?

Thanks Be to God!

 

 

 

 

 

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