|Pentecost 15, Year B||September 6, 2015||Proper 18, Year B||Isaiah 35:4-7a, Ps 146, James 2:1-17, Mark 7:24-37|
|Pentecost 12, Year B, Jonathan Myrick Daniels Commemoration||August 16, 2015||Pentecost 12, Proper 15||Proverbs 4:20-27, Psalm 85:7-13, Galatians 3:22-28, Luke 1:46-55|
|Pentecost 11, Year B||August 9, 2015||Proper 14, Year B||Ephesians 4:25-5:2|
|Pentecost 10, Year B||August 2, 2015||Proper 13, Year B||Ephesians 4:-16, John 6:24-35|
|Pentecost 8, Year B||July 19, 2015||Proper 11, Year B||Psalm 23, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56|
|Pentecost 7, Year B||July 12, 2015||Pentecost 7, Year B||Ephesians 1:3-14|
|➤Pentecost 6, Year B||July 5, 2015||Proper 9, Year B||Ezekiel 2:1-5, 2 Corinthians 13:3-10, Mark 6:1-13|
|Pentecost 5, Year B||June 28, 2015||Proper 8, Year B||Mark 5:21-43, Psalm 30|
|Pentecost 4, Year B||June 21, 2015||Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 7, Year B||2 Corinthians 6:1-13, Mark 4:35-41|
|Pentecost 3, Year B||June 14, 2015||The Third Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 6||2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17; Mark 4:26-34|
|Pentecost 2, Year B||June 7, 2015||The Second Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 5||Genesis 3:8-15, Ps 130, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1, Mark 3:20-35|
|Pentecost 1, Year B -Trinity Sunday||May 31, 2015||Pentecost 1, Year B, Trinity Sunday||Isaiah 6:1-8,Psalm 29,Romans 8:12-17,John 3:1-17|
|Easter 7, Year B||May 17, 2015||Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B||John 17:6-19|
|Easter 6, Rogation Sunday, Year B||May 10, 2015||Sixth Sunday of Easter, Rogation Sunday||Deuteronomy 11:10-15, Mark 4:26-32|
|Easter 4, Year B||April 26, 2015||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B||I John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18|
Pentecost 6, Year B
Sermon Date:July 5, 2015
Scripture: Ezekiel 2:1-5, 2 Corinthians 13:3-10, Mark 6:1-13
Liturgy Calendar: Proper 9, Year B
" Appearance on the Mountain in Galilee"- Duccio di Buoninsegna (1308-11)
The past few weeks have been a perfect storm here in the United States. The Charleston church shooting, the controversy over the Confederate flag, churches burning, the Supreme Court affirming the right of gay people to marry and upholding the Affordable Care Act—the list could go on—
and in our own church, the affirmation of “marriage equality as a part of the life and witness of our church by opting for the adoption of services for Trial Use, as provided for in our church Constitution and Canons”–all of these events and decisions have created a wide range of reaction throughout the country and within our church, and within St Peter’s.
I don’t know about you, but I’m finding the conciliatory messages that we’ve heard this week from our bishop challenging.
Bishop Johnston, summing up General Convention, states that it’s all about the center, our common faith in Jesus and our love for the Church—as centrists, we’ll listen to one another, pay attention to the hows and whys of our decision making processes, embrace what we hold in common, and remain intact as a circle.
I don’t feel like I’m in the center at all. I have pretty strong opinions on every one of the things that has happened recently. I’m feeling cantankerous, and I’m feeling a need to state my opinions with a “Thus says the Lord” attached, just like a prophet.
And I know for sure that many of you have strong opinions as well, based on this past Wednesday’s Bible study. Some of you are feeling like prophets as well—prophets of doom!
On Wednesday, those of us who were at Bible study unhesitatingly shared our differing views with one another and found ourselves, based on our various positions, at odds with one another, and at least temporarily, irritated with one another.
So I’m not going to stand up here today and preach the “party line.”
Maybe I should, but I’m not going to try to coax you into the center where we can spend time with the process, embrace the things we agree on and then pat ourselves on the backs for staying in the circle.
Because I’m not ready to move into the center myself—although I’ll admit that generally the center is where I’m most comfortable, and I’m not comfortable at all right now being out on the edge with my strongly held beliefs.
So here’s my question for all of us today.
How do we stay in loving community when we find that we just aren’t wanting to claim the center at the moment? And this question goes beyond this St Peter’s community.
How do we stay in loving community in our marriages, in our families, in our friendships, at work when we disagree with one another?
It’s the question that needs to be asked of every group of people, including our political parties, our Congress, and our Supreme Court. The Supreme Court justices not only made history this week with their rulings, but some also made history because of the downright rancorous and personal attacks on their fellow judges who wrote the dissenting opinions.
My job as your preacher each week is to search the appointed scriptures to find some words of encouragement, and maybe even some answers about the dilemmas we face in our day to day lives.
And so this week, I’ve been going over and over and over these passages, like someone with a really bad headache looking through the medicine cabinet hoping to find some medicine that can take the pain away and start the healing process.
I’ve been praying over these passages, and asking for God’s help, and then ignoring what God has spelled out right in front of my eyes.
But yesterday afternoon, after three or four false starts on this sermon, I finally cried Uncle. You win, God. I’m ready to listen to the answer now. I get it.
And here’s God’s answer to me—“My grace is sufficient for you, and travel light. That’s how you can stay in loving community.”
We all know that the apostle Paul had a pretty big ego and was pretty opinionated. And so God had to constantly remind Paul of the following, just as God continually has to remind us.
God is telling Paul, “This work is not about you, Paul, or anyone else in this community. It’s about me, God. It’s about spreading my love in the world so that people will long for my grace.”
“It’s not about your talents, your wisdom, your power, your persuasive rhetoric, your lambasting—it’s about my grace.”
“My grace is sufficient for you. My grace, my love and mercy poured out like a mighty waterfall on you; washing away all of the stuff you carry around so that you can be filled with only my love and mercy, so that you can travel light and the power of Christ can dwell in you.”
And speaking of Jesus, travelling light was what he had the disciples do when they went out to spread God’s message of love, healing, and reconciliation in the areas surrounding Galilee.
“No bread, no bag, no money, no second tunic.” Only one tunic, a staff, and a pair of sandals. Not taking anything else allowed the disciples to take with them only what they needed–God’s grace and God’s authority and God’s healing power.
And Jesus didn’t send the disciples out alone, each with his or her strongly held opinions.
He sent them in pairs. We need each other to carry out God’s work in the world. And sometimes the best way to carry out God’s work is for disciples who stand on opposite edges to come together and to then go out together in unity, carrying nothing but what God wants them to carry—God’s grace and God’s power.
I’m beginning to talk myself away from the edge and back into the center after all.
Because now I can see that sheer grace at the center, God’s love and mercy waiting to enfold me, empower me, strengthen me, and fill me.
And ultimately that’s all I need, and it’s all we need—nothing but God’s grace—God’s love and mercy–because if we have that, we can all love God and share God’s love with one another.
God’s grace is sufficient for me, and God’s grace is sufficient for us.