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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Silly Contests, Moving Up, Giving Up Your Seat (August 28, 2016)

Luke 14:1, 7-14

1 On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely. . . . 7 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9 and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, “Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 12 He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Let me tell you that this is a difficult text for me. Be humble, Jesus says. Take the lowest seat, Jesus says. Don’t worry, you’ll be rewarded. It’ll be fine, he says. Someone will notice you down there and will come over and invite you higher, he says. It all works out.

I’m not buying it. I’ve spent much of my life in the lowest seat at the table—not because I chose it. Quite the opposite. I’ve always felt like by the time I get to the table, the lowest seat is the only one left. Then, my own history dictates, I get left there, usually unnoticed.

This isn’t a sob story. It’s a success story for me. I’ve fought my way up to not only being noticed, but being respected for my contributions and gifts. But it’s been a long and difficult climb. I’ve gone from a kid who was bullied and picked on more days than not to someone whose voice is respected and sometimes even sought out.

But no one offered me a higher place at the table. I fought for it. I was determined to move up and slowly did. Many tables I sit at now have a seat close to the top where I am welcome and invited. I fought my way up, let me tell you, not through humility, but through humiliation.

Is Jesus telling me and others who’ve struggled with self-esteem that we’re wrong? That if we had just waited at the low end of the table someone surely would have taken notice and recognized that we are valuable and worthwhile people? If we are patient we’ll eventually get invited to a higher place? Just sit and wait?

Not in my experience. Once you’re at the low seats at the table you tend to stay there, unnoticed and forgotten.

There are those who will point out that the long-suffering in the low seats will get their reward in heaven at the end of time. I’m not buying that either. The gospel is for the living, not the dead. The reign of God that Jesus reveals is here and now, present in this world or it’s no use at all. If there’s no application today, then there’s no application.

So what are we going to do with a text like this? One of the reasons I became Lutheran is that we are ready for texts like this. It’s not that we have all the answers, but we do have a theology that takes the reality of our world into account. We don’t live in a pie-in-the-sky kind of world, and statements about God that only offer pie-in-the-sky fluff are rightly rejected by us. And they ought to be.

No, we in the ELCA can afford to be honest about scripture readings that are hard, or don’t make sense, or that don’t fit well with our experience. We’re OK wrestling and disagreeing and conversing from our varying perspectives.

What we Lutherans do is get honest, admit where the rough spots are. We aren’t shy about that, but go deep with that and if we seem to have hit a dead end, we look at what we know about Jesus. When talking to a Pharisee on the Sabbath, Jesus isn’t discussing table manners or etiquette. He’s dealing with religious power and how that gets in the way of God at work with those left out.

There’s a point Jesus is making here. This isn’t advice on how to get ahead in life. This is a statement about our seeking power and status, because everyone wants a higher seat at the table.

Look at how the author of Luke sets this up: Jesus, a Pharisee, at a meal, on the Sabbath. This is a recipe for conflict. More than table manners or how to get noticed, Jesus is letting us know that power and status don’t matter, but doing the work of God in the world does.

Whether you are seated high or low, Jesus says, invite those lower than you, those who cannot repay, those who are lost and pushed aside. It’s not about us getting a higher seat—it’s about us giving up our seat for those who are lower!

Jesus tells the Pharisee who’s hosting the meal to look beyond those who will increase his own status, but instead offer a place at the table to those who have no place. Not only does that fit with the setting of this text, but it fits with Jesus. The gospel is never about the rich getting richer, not about the powerful getting more power, but it is always about the rich and the powerful giving that up for the sake of those who have none.

This text may not sound like good news for those who love their high place in business, government, finances, or even religion. But it is good news for those with no voice, who go unnoticed, who are picked on, who are bullied, who are poor, who are undocumented, who are ethnic minorities, who are denied rights because of their sexual identity, who are powerless. Those who are at the lowest seat, if they have a place at the table at all.

Jesus is telling those of us who have places at the table to make room, scoot down, give up our seat, bring those on the outside in. For all are valuable in the sight of God, therefore all are valuable. Period.

We break the cycle of power by giving power away. That’s what we can do with our place at the table. Regardless of where we sit, we make room at the table.

Join us at Zion Baptist “Church in the Park” today. As their guests, we are being offered a seat at the table. What will be served is an opportunity to step into racial reconciliation. The question then will be, “now that we have been given a chair at the table, what will we do with it?” Some will try to climb higher. Jesus calls us to give our seat to someone else. That’s how we offer good news to the world.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in Sermon

 

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Sabbath, Rejoicing, God at Work, Racism (August 21, 2016)

Luke 13:10-17

Now [Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13 When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14 But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” 15 But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jesus is teaching in a synagogue and gets into an argument with the pastor, or the council president, or some leader. It’s the Sabbath, he has cured a woman who had a crippling spirit and the leader of the synagogue was quite upset. So they argue about what the Sabbath is all about.

Now, first of all, I find it interesting that Luke often describes ailments, impairments, and diseases in spiritual terms. This woman in the synagogue had a “sprit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and quite unable to stand up straight.” In our sophisticated 21st century arrogance, we know better. We figure poor Luke was just doing the best he could.

But what if he’s right?

We assume this woman was physically crippled. That her body was unable to stand up straight. But what if it isn’t a physical crippling but a spiritual one?

What if she was carrying such a weight in her heart that her spirit was bent over. Consider that for a minute. It’s actually not too difficult to imagine. Have you ever been so full of grief that you couldn’t get out of bed? Have you ever felt so overwhelmed that you felt you had the weight of the world pressing down on you?

Couldn’t this be what Luke is describing here?

Regardless, this woman is afflicted with a spirit, the weight of which bent her over. Yet Jesus sees her and frees her from her bondage. Because that’s what Jesus does. The crowd in the synagogue rejoiced at the wonderful thing Jesus did. They rejoiced because God was active right there in their midst right then.

Perhaps that’s what “Sabbath” is all about—taking time from the chaos and stress of our week to recognize what God is actually doing among us and rejoicing in that! That seems to be what Jesus is pointing out. Sabbath isn’t about what we ought to do, but about noticing—and then rejoicing—in what God is doing.

The people in the synagogue get it. They see a woman set free and recognize God at work and rejoice. Sabbath.

When you pay attention, there’s a lot to rejoice about, because God is all about setting people free from bondage. There are all different kinds of bondage that make us quite unable to stand up. All different kinds of crippling spirits that keep us bent over. And Jesus has come to set us free from them.

What weight are you carrying around that prevents you from standing fully in what God created you to do? What stresses, worries, anxieties, pressures are keeping you bent over? What spirit has you held captive, keeping you from moving? We’re all crippled by something that cripples us from being fully who God calls us to be.

We’re so bent over with the weight of religious activity, trying to get all the right church-things done that we are quite unable to stand up straight and actually be the church.

We’re so bent over with the weight of righteousness that we end up judging those who behave differently that we, and are then quite unable to stand up straight in love for them.

We’re so bent over with the weight of justifying ourselves that we are quite unable to stand up straight and see Christ already present within us.

We’re so bent over with the weight of increasing our faith that we are quite unable to stand up straight and recognize God’s love already present.

And, we’re so bent over with the weight of fear of the unknown that we are quite unable to stand up straight and see Christ in those different than us.

But Jesus has come to set us free. Free to see God’s love and grace at work around us; free to rejoice; free to be part of it.

Jesus sees us, and next week Jesus is calling us over to be cured of a spirit that is crippling us. God is already active in breaking the bondage of racism and God has called us to be part of that redemptive work.

Racism is more than an individual’s prejudice. Racism is a systemic evil that pervades our culture. Racism, which includes our white inability to recognize the depth and the evil of it, keeps us bent over. We are unable to stand up straight with our Black sisters and brothers because of this horror that hangs on us. Racism is a weight that presses down on us and cripples us.

Jesus has come to set us free. As we gather with our brothers and sisters from Zion next Sunday, Jesus will be laying his hands on us so we can stand up and praise God together. And all of us—Black and White—together can rejoice at all the wonderful things Jesus is doing.

Recognizing God at work, and rejoicing in it. That’s Sabbath.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Sermon

 

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The Risk of Division (August 14, 2016)

Video available at: https://www.facebook.com/lcm.lakewood/https://www.facebook.com/lcm.lakewood/

Luke 12:49-56

“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” 54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, “It is going to rain’; and so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Every year on the 4th of July, my daughter Emily and I sit down and watch the musical “1776.” I’m not sure why she does it—probably just to humor her old man. But I watch it because it’s a reminder to me of what courage looks like.

Now, it’s not completely historically accurate—I don’t think the entire Continental Congress demanded that John Adams sit down while bemoaning the heat and the flies in Philadelphia—all in Broadway musical style, but the men and women behind the Declaration of Independence had a vision of a new country. And the creation of it involved significant risks. They were branded traitors by their government (which was England), and had people within their own cities who were still loyal to the British Crown who stood with the king as vehemently as they stood in opposition. Death sentences were pronounced on them.

Yet despite the threats and the division, they continued leading this movement into the development of a new country—an experiment in democracy different than the world had ever seen. They did whatever was necessary to accomplish it. Not perfectly, but they did it.

Sometimes the risk of division is necessary to attain something higher.

I’ve been perusing Tom Brokaw’s book, “The Greatest Generation,” and I see similar things there. A whole generation of people grew up in the Great Depression and, after Pearl Harbor, joined an effort to defeat fascism. They sacrificed more than they let on for a cause greater than themselves. They risked their lives and their futures for something better.

War is always divisive. Yet sometimes the risk of division is necessary to attain something higher.

I believe that this congregation’s history has similarities to this also. There were hard times here in the 1970s and then again in the 1980s. Division and infighting alongside of sacrifice and effort for something better. Then again in the 1990s. 21 years ago division racked LCM. Yet many in this church dug in and sacrificed. They pulled together and got serious about our purpose as a congregation within God’s mission. They raised the bar for membership and for leadership.

I came here when things had settled down a bit and as this hard work loomed ahead of us. Together we pulled, together we prayed, together we moved forward. Yet we lost members along the way who weren’t ready or who weren’t convinced that the hard work ahead would be worth it.

The community around us took notice of our excitement and our dedication and our hard work. Members began to join here by the dozens year after year. Our budget virtually tripled within a few years. We began to reach out into our community in love and care in new ways. We went from a congregation that, at my first synod assembly, people said to me, “Oh, you’re the pastor they got to go there,” to, “You’re at LCM? My congregation is inspired to try something you did. How did your folks do this?”

We sat back and watch the success. We looked at ourselves with satisfaction, patted ourselves on the back, and watched a congregation on the rise.

That was the problem. We sat back. We began to look inward. After pulling together with courage and living into a new resurrection life again, we sat back and looked inward. Content. Peaceful. We began to think that little risk and minimal inconvenience was normal. We chose to back off, make things easier, avoid any division for the sake of an apparent peace. We accommodated ourselves, made ourselves comfortable. We lowered the bar to keep peace and avoid any conflict. The potential division wasn’t worth the risk to us. Because things seemed to be going fine.

That became the norm. We took our eyes off God’s work and focused on our easy ride internally. And the more our vision turned inward—to our own new normal of convenience and entitlement—the more we opened the door to discontent, criticism, and self-centeredness. Lowering the bar for the sake of avoiding conflict became the expectation. Anything inconvenient or challenging was bad or wrong. Anything requiring a commitment or effort was tossed aside as unnecessary. Anything uncomfortable brought back-biting and blaming.

So we lowered the bar further to make things even easier and keep people happy. And the roots of convenience and self-comfort grew deeper. Leaders became afraid to lead because they would often experience so much criticism and negativity. Any change at all became a threat. Anyone who challenged the relative peace of the status quo was not to be trusted.

So we lowered the bar again, longing for the easy days of the early 2000s, when we sat back and lived in peace and comfort.

And it’s to us now that Jesus speaks these words in Luke’s gospel. “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to LCM? No, I tell you, but rather division!”

Jesus isn’t calling us to keep everyone happy and comfortable, but to be about God’s work in the world. And that often means inconvenience and discomfort. Some won’t like it. It means work, effort, commitment. And sometimes that’s more than some people feel they’ve bargained for. And the more important we believe our work to be, the more likely it is to cause division. Yet Jesus tells us that doing the work we’ve been baptized for is more important. It’s worth that risk of division.

–We should expect a bunch of people to go to Zion Baptist Church in the Park, to be a visible witness of racial reconciliation—not because it’s convenient, but because it’s God’s work.

–We should expect a full sign up sheet for Sunday School teachers—not because it requires a minimal effort, but because our children need examples of discipleship.

–We should expect the parents of Sunday School-aged children to bring their kids regularly—not because it fits their schedules, but because growing discipleship matters.

–We should expect most households to increase their financial giving—not because it’s comfortable, but because the ministry we are called to do is more important than our comfort.

–We should expect our council to be bold and to take risks, and we should support them in that—not so we have someone to blame, but because they need to follow the Holy Spirit.

Being a disciple of Jesus is not easy, not always peaceful and calm, not rainbows and butterflies. It’s messy, it’s hard, it’s unglorious, it’s imperfect and risky. It requires our forgiveness and grace toward each other.

And it’s also who we are in the resurrected Christ. It’s us at our best. It’s where our faith God has given us comes alive. It’s where we can meet God most fully. Sometimes, Jesus is telling us, the risk of division is necessary to attain something higher.

God is on the move, and we are the people invited and equipped to be on the leading edge of that movement. That’s worth the risk.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2016 in Sermon

 

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“Dressed for Action” (August 7, 2014)

This sermon can also be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/lcm.lakewood/

Luke 12:32-40

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 35 “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36 be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. 39 “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

A week ago we took 12 LCM young people up to Sky Ranch Lutheran Camp. Before that, however, we had a lot of preparation to do We had made our reservations months before. The kids participated in multiple fund-raisers. There were physical exams, immunizations to be done and forms to be filled out. There were down payments and personal accounts to be kept track of.

Lists of what to bring and what not to bring were sent. Rides up to camp were arranged. Rides back home were planned.

Then there was the packing. It can get cold at 9000 ft, so jackets and long-sleeved shirts are necessary. It’s hot during the day, so summer clothing is nLooking.for.Godeeded. Plus shoes for playing, boots for hiking, sleeping bags, bug spray, extra socks, water bottles. A lot of preparation went into this one week.

But last Sunday, 12 kids were packed and ready. 12 kids, many of whom weren’t sure what they were getting into, loaded into cars one way or another and took off for the best week of the summer.

This gospel text today would describe them as “dressed for action with their lamps lit.” When it was time for camp to start at Sky Ranch, all 12 of our kids were ready. Because they, with their parents and with the support of their church, had prepared for that week.

This convoluted gospel reading in Luke is about that. God is on the move, and we are to be ready to be part of God’s work and God’s mission when those opportunities rise up. Jesus is telling us to be ready for him to come and knock on our door so we can be part of what he’s getting ready to do. He calls us to be ready, because you never know when Jesus is going to invite us into something big. Be dressed for action with your lamps lit.

So what will it be that Jesus calls us into? What big thing will God beLooking.for.God.1

doing that we need to be ready for? Racial justice? Homelessness? Children’s health? Hunger? Poverty? Or something we haven’t thought about yet? A major project that will take years, or a small act that may seem almost trivial? Whatever it is, be dressed for action with your lamps lit.

Last week we took part in some reconciliation with the Police Department and the African American community. There was some real energy around that. Part of it was one worship, so the room had more people, but there was more going on. God’s work of unity and reconciliation was being accomplished. Jesus came and knocked on our door. And I think we were ready. I think that we were dressed for action with our lamps lit. Jesus knocked, we opened the door, and a little more unity—a little more reconciliation came into the world. That’s what Jesus is making available to us. This is what he’s telling us to be prepared for. Be dressed for action with your lamps lit.

For the children at Molholm Elementary, Green Mountain Elementary, and throughout Jeffco who may have to start school without school supplies, Be dressed for action with your lamps lit.

For the homeless who may sleep tonight with empty stomachs, Be dressed for action with your lamps lit.

For those around the world with no means of feeding themselves, Be dressed for action with your lamps lit.

For those who are pushed around by bullies on the playground, or by employers who care more for profit than decency, or by local governments who cater to the powerful rather than defend the powerless, Be dressed for action with your lamps lit.

When Jesus comes knocking, be ready to open the door. When God moves in compassion, be prepared to follow.

It’s one thing to talk about being ready, another to actually do the prep work. The best way is to be able to recognize God at work. You can’t join God if you don’t see God. So rather than focusing on the darkness and the evil and the hatred that get so much of the attention around us, we can also look for the mercy, the compassion, the kindness, the efforts to bring peace and reconciliation that are happening right now. Watch for those, pay attention. God is doing this all around us—we need to see them.

So that we can be ready to join God in them.

To help us be dressed for action with our lamps lit, we have Looking for God booklets today. This is an idea from my friend Alexa Schroeder from Sky Ranch. I encourage you to pick one up and use it. It’s quite simple: each page has a different characteristic of God on it. Each day you watch for that characteristic happening, and you jot it down. For instance, day 1 is “Joyfulness.” On day 1 watch for something joyful, because that is God at work. Perhaps you can even join God in bringing joy to someone else that day. It’s amazing that when you’re looking for something you begin to see it. Being dressed for action with our lamps lit starts very simply. Watch for Jesus.

We had 12 kids watching for camp to begin. They knew it was happening so they could be ready.

We are people who are watching for God in action. We can know it’s happening so we can be ready.

God is at work in our world. God invites us to join in. Get ready. Be dressed for action with your lamps lit.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2016 in Sermon

 

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A Step into Reconciliation (July 31, 2016)

This sermon can be viewed at: https://www.facebook.com/lcm.lakewood/

Colossians 3:1-11

But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have . . . clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in . . . the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

Living in Christ we are being transformed, renewed. We are being changed out of malice and slander, and abusive language. Instead, we are being clothed in the new, in Christ. We are being transformed into his image.

So, of course there is no longer Greek and Jew, slave and free. There is no longer Democrat or Republican. There is no longer police and African American. There is only Christ and the new life we are being brought into. And we are the people God has called and equipped to show the world what that looks like.

In Christ, we are no longer dividers, but uniters.

In Christ, we no longer bring disparity, but unity.

In Christ, we no longer act according to our human differences, but according to Christ alive in the other.

It seems that our nation needs reconciliation now more than ever. We need unity as we move forward. We need to recognize Christ, present in love and compassion and understanding, in those who are different than we are.

Today is the day to begin bringing reconciliation. Because we’re the ones who acknowledge reconciliation through Christ. Since we are united in Christ, we bring reconciliation and togetherness to our world in him. It has to be us. No one else is nearly so equipped for this work.

With the urging of our Worship Planning Ministry, I had a few conversations in preparation for worship today. Half were with Officer Steve Davis from the Public Information Office of the Lakewood Police Department. The other half were with Rev. Frank Davis, pastor of Zion Baptist Church near Five Points in Denver, the oldest historically African American congregation in the Rocky Mountain area—chartered in 1865.

In each set of conversations we talked about divisiveness. We talked about anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language. And we talked about reconciliation. I asked how we can facilitate some means of reconciliation and support for both the police and our African American brothers and sisters.

And I listened as each told me about the heartache, the sadness, the misunderstanding, the undeserved anger, the divisions they experience. These were emotional conversations that went to the heart of divisiveness. I was moved when Officer Steve Davis asked if we would pray for the police department—not just today, but ongoing. Pray for guidance, for wisdom, and for good judgment. And I was moved when Rev. Frank Davis grabbed my hands prayed for us and our ministry of reconciliation.

And based on those conversations, and with their endorsements, we have the opportunity commit to acts of reconciliation and encouragement. Recognizing that in Christ there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free. But in Christ we are all made new.

There are two letters in the back of the worship area. One is addressed to the Lakewood Police. The other to Zion Baptist. You are encouraged  to read and to sign each one if you choose to do so.

The letter to the police department is a letter of encouragement and support. Recognizing the dangers and the difficulties of their job each day, it is a letter of gratitude. By signing it, however, we would also be committing to holding the Lakewood Police Department regularly in prayer in an ongoing way. That is our act of unity in Christ: affirming those who sometimes feel unappreciated, or even targeted, as they serve us all with wisdom and good judgement.

The other letter to Zion is a letter of acknowledgment. Openly acknowledging that in our country there is a history of racial disparity, from which our African American brothers and sisters have suffered. Acknowledging that the differences between racial groups have been used to divide us. And again, our African American brothers and sisters have suffered more as a result. By signing this letter, however, we are committing ourselves to seek to establish a relationship with someone who is different than us, to help us understand, love, and be part of God’s reconciling work. As for me, I plan to get to know the Imam at the RMIC here in Lakewood.

As Rev. Davis and I talked in his office at Zion, he said that the fabric of our country is torn & can only be mended by love. Love happens in relationships. But because we’re afraid of those who are different, we avoid it. Reconciliation is grounded in love. That’s how it happens. By signing this letter to Zion, we commit to that work of reconciliation through a relationship with someone different in some way. Perhaps a different race or religion, a different sexual identity, a different political party, a different set of physical abilities, or a different language. But we, who trust we are transformed in Christ, we are the ones who must lead this movement of reconciliation in a divided country. As Rev. Davis says, “the answer isn’t in the White House, it’s not in the State House. It’s in the Church House.”

Today, we support others in Jesus’ name. Today, we walk with others in Jesus’ name. Today, we bring a little more unity into our world in Jesus’ name.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2016 in Sermon

 

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