If anyone is interested, below is the sermon I preached at the Integrity Eucharist in NYC yesterday … After a brief word of welcome, I dived right in …
Text: Mark 9:30-37; James 3:16 – 4:8
Anyone who has been following the news will note there is quite a rather large power struggle going on within our society. A sizeable portion of our nation laments that the country they grew up in is not the country they’re living in today. On many levels, they’re right. The United States today is certainly not the United States from 50s or 60s, or even 70s 80s or 90s! Change is inevitable as history marches on. Speaking of change, another sizeable portion of the country is saying that the change they supposedly voted for almost a year ago is not happening. Depending on how certain bills get through Congress, they could be proven right as well. What these two sides have in common is that, rightly so or wrongly so, they are giving each other a large dose of bad press in no small part because we live in a world of instant communication, tweets, blog posts and a 24 hour news cycle. We live in a world where civil discourse has been thrown out the window, where anything can be said and anything goes. It seems that any chance of intelligent discussion has been discarded in favor of sound bites, talking points, and over-the-top rhetoric.
The disciples get quite a bit of bad press in the Gospels. They are shown saying inappropriate things, shooing people away from Jesus, and constantly misunderstand what Jesus is trying to tell them. Sometimes we can see quite a bit of ourselves in the disciples. Much too often for our liking, we can be rather slow to get the point of what Jesus is talking about or what he is doing. The Good News, however is that if we read through to the end of the Gospels, we learn the disciples are restored, redeemed and reclaimed following the Resurrection of Christ. Reading further into the book of Acts, we witness the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all sorts of different cultures and tribes and nations. So then, we shouldn’t lose hope as we look at what is going on in the world. Consider the place of African Americans, who once were required to sit in balconies during church services so as to be out of site of their white masters. Consider the place of women, who only gained access to the discernment process and the sacrament of Holy Orders within our lifetime, and could not even vote a century ago. And now, consider the place of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Christians and the road we are on today. Slowly but steadily, the Church has expanded its embrace to include everyone who Jesus has already included. It is a long road, and at times it is a hard road. Quite frankly, I’m sure many of us have just wanted to give up and get off the road altogether! But in the end, just like the disciples, we all get caught up in the radical welcome of grace and peace that comes of living in relationship with God. This is a precious gift, and one that is given freely. But, like many things worth having, it is a gift that, while it is given freely, does not come cheaply.
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