- Movies That Cook
- Things for Your Kitchen
- Walk to Emmaus- Luke
- The Unknown God- Acts 17
- Prayer for the Church
- Charlotte/ Acts 8:26-40
- Jacob/Prodigal Son
- Jacob/Romans 8
- Jacob Wrestling and Blessing
- Jacob learning to live with a limp
- FTF Timothy
- The Field is Ready, Genesis/Romans
- romans 8
- Philippians 2:1-13
- Ruth Dinsmore- Acts
- Philippians 3: 5-14
- 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
- 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-8
- 1 Thessalonians 2:9-20
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-19
- 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
- New Page
- Advent 1 Isaiah 64
- Advent 3 Isaiah 61
- Christmas Eve Isaiah 9: 1-7
- Baptism of Jesus Mark 1
- Mark 1: 14-20
- Breathe: Mark 1:21-28
- Backyard Basics 4: Belong
- Ash Wednesday
- Backyard Basics 5/Blessings 1
- Backyard Blessings 2: Generations- Genesis 17
- Backyard Bless 3-CreationPsalm 19
- Backyard Blessings 4: Healing Ps 107
- Backyard Blessings 5: Love-Jeremiah 31
- Easter Blooms John 20:1-18
- Backyard Blooms: Luke 24:36-48
- Vines- John 15: 1-8
- John 15:9-15 Blessings: Friends
- Bkyd Blooming: COnfidence- Acts 1
- Backyard Breeze! Acts 2
- Bkyrd Breezes:Isaiah 6/Romans 8
- Bkyrd Brz: 1 Samuel 3/2 Cor
- Mustard Seed Annointing
- Bkyrd Breezes: Courage
- Mark 6:1-13, Romans 12 Bkrd Breezes: Wisdom
- Bkyrd Bodybuilding-Core- Ephesians 2
- Bkyrd Bodybuilding- Cardio- Ephes 3
- Backyard Bodybuilding: Legs, Back, Chest, Arms!
- Bkyrd Bodybuilding- Nutrition-Ep 4
- Mark 10:35-45
- Mark 8:27-38
- Mark 9:30-37 Bkyrd Stmbling:Pride
- Bkyrd Stumbling Blocks: Patriarchy
- Mark 4 Combined Service
- Mark 12: 28-34 Backyard Bounty: Love
- Backyard Bounty: Value
- Backyard Bounty: Encouragement Mark 13:1-8
- Backyard Bounty: Abundance!
- Backyard Birthing: Speak- Advent 3
- Backyard Birthing: Sing! Luke 1:39-46
- Christmas Eve- Ressurection
- Luke 2: 21-40 A Once Over
- Epiphany- Matthew- Star of Wonder
- Beyond the Backyard: The Call-
- Beyond the Backyard: The Message- Luke 4
- Beyond the Backyard: Words Matter- Jeremiah 1:4-19
- Beyond the Backyard:
- Beyond the Backyard: Compassion
- Beatitudes: Imagine 1
- Imagine: Beatitudes- Meekness
- Imagine Beatitudes: No countries: Hungry, Thirsty, Filled
- Imagine Luke 15
- Easter Sermon: Mary- Through our Tears
- Imagine: Beatitudes- Mercy and Pure Heart
- Imagine Beatitudes: Peacemakers
- Imaging: Beatitudes- Persecution/Rejoice!
- New Page
- Say yes! (Fig Tree/Potter/Ps139)
- 1 Timothy 1:12-17 Things we leave behind
- Say Yes: What we Bring- Luke 14
- Luke16- Lazarus and the Rich Man
- Luke 17:1-10- increase our faith
- Luke 18- Widows, Judges, Labels and MIrrors
- Pharisee, Tax Collector, Mirrors, and Prayer
- Luke 19:1-10 -Zacchaeus
- Luke 20:27-38 Seeing Scripture Differently
- Seeing church differently Luke 21:5-19
- John 6- Obstacles:Seeing community differently
- Compassion Advent 2
- Advent 3 Compassion 3 Mary
- Advent 4: Compassion/Joseph Mt 1
- The Nice List- Christmas Eve
- Baptism of Jesus-Matthew
- No Matter What: 1. Abraham
- No Matter What: Jacob
- No Matter What: Jacob/Tamar
- No Matter What: Rahab
- No Matter What: David
- On the Road Again: Into the Unknown
- On the Road: Nicodemus
- Woman at the Well COVID-19
- On the Road Again: Man Born Blind
- On The Road Again: The Rest of Us
- Easter: Up and On the Move-Mt. 28
- Risen? Or Fake News? Mt. 28: 11-20
- How the Virus Stole Easter
- Emmaus, On the Road...Again?
- Interruptions and Upheavals 2: Acts 2
- John 14:1-14, 1 Peter 2:2-10
- Acts 17:22-31 Interruptions and Upheavals 4
- Know, Share, Go... Together- John 17
- Acts 2: For Such a Time as This
- Christ In Us: A Living Sanctuary Matthew 10
- Christ in Us: Listening to YHWH
- Christ in Us: Love Anyway
- Christ in Us: Abundance
- Christ in Us: Abundance- Matthew Sower/Romans 8
- Christ in Us: Acceptance
- Christ in Us: Gratitude
Christ in Us: Love Anyway
But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; theChosen One came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.”
At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Abba God, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Abba, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by Abba God; and no one knows the Only Begotten except Abba God, and no one knows the Abba God except the Only Begotten and anyone to whom the Only Begotten wants to give that revelation. “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Yesterday was Independence Day, and though it was a slightly more subdued version of our usual celebration of freedom, as a nation we commemorated and affirmed the day we declared ourselves a self-governing country- conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal.. oh wait- that part came later... Freedom in our nation's infancy meant freedom for some, slavery for others, citizenship for some, servitude for others, rights for some, denial of rights for others. But we declared ourselves free from tyranny, and that we would no longer bow in submission to other nations. We declared that freedom through a document, with signatures. We secured that freedom through violence, with bloodshed.
I begin this sermon with these facts, not to beat up the founding fathers or derogate from anyone's hard work and sacrifice in our becoming a country. I am grateful and glad to be living in the United States of America; and though we can point to the many problems we face in so many areas of our shared life as one nation under God, all Americans are indebted to those who made sacrifices and lost loved ones in that first struggle for freedom.
I begin the sermon with these facts, rather, to Illustrate simply the way we think about how freedom is obtained and maintained. That freedom, like power, is not given, it's taken; and that it is secured through force, violence, bloodshed, and the loss of human lives. And this is not new- since the first caveman (or woman) picked up a club and beat an interloper away from their fire, we've been taking what we feel we deserve and defending our right to have it. And this is so embedded in us, in human society and in our generational history that we consider it a necessary albeit painful part of the cost of freedom. It's part of life. We’ve written it into our religious life, in some cases- and linked it with Jesus’s teachings on freedom. As I said laast week, to us, it is normal.
But it is not "normal' for Jesus. His message of freedom did not include securing or maintaining peace through violence. Instead, he offers peace through sharing, equity, inclusion, and love... crazy, right? And it is for that reason that his message was not received easily or readily by the masses. In the passage Lorene just read, Jesus was ticked off- frustrated that people wouldn’t accept it. In their defense, and perhaps in our defense, we have very few examples of this kind of peace being played out in real life; its counter cultural, and seems counterproductive.
We have instead, many examples and illustrations of “freedom,” readily at our disposal, though they seem to vary from person to person, or, people group to people group.
Freedom for some, means, doing whatever we want. It means deciding to follow the rules or not, no restrictions, no laws we disagree with, saying whatever we want, writing whatever we want, worshiping how we want, living how we want, eating and drinking and smoking whatever we want, going anywhere we like whenever we feel like it, wearing a mask or not, and no one has the right to tell us what to do...
to some freedom means we get to hold others to our standards or make them comply with what we deem best, it means might, and strength, and being powerful enough to fine, imprison, or even crush those who disagree with us.
For some, freedom means carrying whatever we want, threatening whoever threatens us and defending our right to do so, freedom to some means selling to who we like, and having the right to refuse to sell to those we wish to exclude for whatever reason or religion we choose... providing health care and housing and help to those we deem worthy and denying it to others- for some freedom means taking whatever we want from the planet and the creatures God put here with no thought to anyone but ourselves... hey, get out of my way- it's a free country!
But this kind of freedom, is not only incompatible with the teachings of Jesus, Jesus tells us this behavior is just another form of enslavement; not living in harmony with one another in a society based on and in compassion keeps us bound to systems and structures that keep us chained to greed, and competition, and violence. We learn to survive, to scrap and struggle and do what the world expects of us and take on a persona that will help us get by, and maybe even thrive... and sure, we don't mean to hurt anyone, well, most of us... but we do, and much as we don't like to admit it... we do hold an awareness that our success often comes at someone else's sacrifice. That's why the happiness and joy we expect to come with "freedom" always seems to elude us.
The freedom Jesus offers is not based in systems of violence and sacrifice. Freedom, for Jesus, means freedom from sin- now, a couple of weeks ago I told you that sin means missing the mark- missing who we are in and to God- and because we miss it, because we don't see ourselves as Christ-like with Christ in us, we often behave in ways that are sin-full. Our negative behavior is a symptom of sin. It’s like if you have a cold, and the cold/virus is sin, and the sneezing and coughing are symptoms of the virus- come as a result of the virus living in you.
This is what Paul was talking about in the scripture I read during the prayer of confession- ‘the very things I don't want to do is what I do! I know it’s not me, but the sin living in me that causes me to do them...’ He struggles with his behavior the same way we do, and he knows he can’t master it any more than we can force ourselves to stop coughing or stifle a sneeze when we have a cold. Finally, Paul comes to the question- what do I do then? ‘who then can free me from this body of death?’ How can I have freedom from sin, or as he calls it, be dead to sin? And he answers his own question with the voice of the spirit- thank God, through Jesus Christ…
This is the freedom Jesus offers- freedom from sin- freedom to see ourselves, not as sick, broken people, but as loved unconditionally, loved preemptively, before we’ve done anything to deserve it- while we are still sinners, God loves us kind of freedom. It’s why when jesus invites us, the burdened, the heavy laden, to yoke ourselves to him, because he knows we are on this hamster wheel of trying and failing and doing, and proving ourselves. He sees our struggle with worldly systems of “freedom” and what they do to us inside and out- our aversion to and our dependence on violence and he offers us a better way…
His yoke is easy, his burden light; a gentle, non-violent way.
Freedom for Jesus, means unconditional love; knowing it and showing it, unconditional love. I know we throw that term around a lot... it means loving, no matter what. It is the kind of love God offers us- not based on our behavior, on anything that we do or don't do- not based on our acceptance or rejection of God, not based on our treatment of ourselves, others, or even creation... regardless of what we do, or think, or say, God loves us, anyway.
I wear a cap that says "Love Anyway." It's from a group called Preemptive Love- started by a couple, who, after 9/11, felt compelled to go to Iraq to help the people in trauma from the bombing. They went to the front lines, wherever there was another explosion, to show compassion and give physical, and emotional support to the victims. Our countries were at war, but this couple chose to love anyway. Since 9/11, they have made their home there- raised their American children there, not just become part of the community, but helped communities survive- to this day whenever there is an outbreak of war, or violence, it is to that situation they go- regardless of who did the damage, despite political affiliation or beliefs, they choose to love preemptively- to love first, to love anyway.
This is freedom in Christ. To understand and show love across borders, love without limits. To practice preemptive love- with the least of these- regardless of whether or not we agree with their theology, or their politics, even those on the other side… when we see people hurting, we help, when we see oppression, we stop it- we don’t seek revenge, or punishment, or suffering on anyone… as disciples of Christ, we love anyway. There is no one, no one, beyond God’s love so there is no one beyond for our reach. As long as we have life and breath, we continue to seek, and show, and soothe sin sick souls, and anything short of that, we can’t call ourselves Christians. Do you want to celebrate freedom this July and every day? In the words of paul- be thankful to God for the freedom that comes through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! love anyway- love like Jesus loves- love like God loves us, unconditionally, preemptively, love first, love big- just love…