(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!)
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?
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,
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
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,
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?
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.
During my second year of Seminary,
I attended a conference, if you will
The Congress on Urban Ministry,
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,
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
This conference was pushing for
That we as Children of God
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!
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!
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.
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,
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,
And unifying those in many neighborhoods,
The organizers of this march asked for two participants of the conference,
To volunteer to go along with Dr. Forbes and Father Plager.
I found my hand in the air,
I found myself joined shoulder to shoulder with others,
Who were not afraid to expose publicly their faith
My soul MOVED!
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,
Even, dare say,
And right after Jesus’s experience in the wilderness
His encounter with evil,
Jesus learns of John’s plight incarcerated,
John, His disciple
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
Is made an example
And this is when Jesus,
Begins His ministry,
Change your minds,
For the kingdom of God
Has come near.”
Dr. King, Jr
Started his own ministry towards nonviolence,
And civil disobedience
After Rosa Parks refused
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.”
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
That comes through this TABLE
That seeps into us
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!
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!!
We are Children of God,
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?
Are we willing
To dive deeply
Following Jesus Christ,
Towards radical transformation?
Thanks Be to God!