A World That Is Home to Every Last One of Us: E-pistle 06.02.11

A World That Is Home to Every Last One of Us: E-pistle 06.02.11

The sermon this week will be “Are You Ready for Something Big?” Prompted by the scripture readings for Ascension, I will be suggesting that church usually thinks too small. We’re taking ‘unsure baby steps,’ while God in Christ expects ‘great Leaps of Faith.’

Our graduates, whose commencements we will celebrate this Sunday, can also challenge us. As we look with hope at so much before them, we might take stock, asking ourselves: are we living at the height of our potential, performing on par for the promise we once showed?

If you wonder what I’m going to be talking about… if you are worried!, or just want to know what bigger thoughts, plans, actions I’m alluding too, well, I guess you need to come on Sunday!

(The weather has cooled off, and Mark W. — with a lot of stick-to-it-ness and grace — has the air-conditioning chugging along — not forever, but let’s hope at least until we get through the congregational meeting on June 12, and install a new system.)

Are you ready for something big? I believe our world is. Well, maybe not ready. But needing something big. All the misunderstanding and hatred, all the ways we abuse one another and mistreat the environment, they leave me feeling the world is headed to hell in a handcart.

We need some major changes: Transformations, capital “T”. How much longer can we continue on the paths we set for ourselves before we come to ruin? People falter and fail when the road is smooth. When the hills are getting steeper… the abysses, deeper… and our paths are more and more challenging… If the going gets too much more difficult, how many casualties must we expect?

I think our world, even our city, needs something big out of us. Should we accustom ouselves to there being people without the means for shelter? Or their next meal? Can we grow used to children whose education is at risk and in question? Or wars that go on without end?

Over against the other competing and self-interested agendas, the church offers an alternative. Someone shared with me this week the anger felt at another church member who said, “We can’t always be there for others; we have to watch ourselves and NOT always give everything away.”

Aren’t we as a community called on the promise and faith that in giving, you receive; in losing yourself you find yourself; and only in dying do you come to eternal life?

Yes, I know, there’s good reason to be suspicious. The church can be as narrow and selfish as the next institution. And what better cover can anyone find for lesser appetites and agendas. Still, I believe, right alongside the hypocrites and scoundrels, the church is one of the best communities for finding good folks. Good folks, more often than not, TRYING to lead with and to offer others the better part of themselves. It’s endearing really, even when we fail.

I would assume the same is true in other faith communities– they are good bets on finding good folks. And those communities call out their goodness

Beloved, this is why I’m so set on this community organizing. The religious community has an invaluable and irreplaceable gift to offer to the world. Business is sighted on profits for its owners and shareholders. Government is concerned with re-elections and voters. And these days, in one of the ways things are skewed, powerful lobbying interests, and the money they control and promise, add another wrinkle in our political system. It’s not unusual that some lesser, narrower interest gets its way. Of course, it’s also not unusual that what is right isn’t clear or undisputed either.

But who in the system as we know it can serve as advocate for people without much power? People who don’t own anything. Or have appreciable money. Or power. People who tend not to vote. Or can’t vote. People whose interest may be at odds with and quite counter to those of the biggest employers in town, or even of the small business owner who only has one employee.

Jesus says: When I was naked you clothed me. When I was hungry you fed me. When I was in prison, you visited. When I was sick, you cared for me. Our faith calls us to advocate for those who are vulnerable, oppressed or in need. It’s what our faith is about. And, more than you might expect, it’s a concern shared by other faiths too: Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism…

I want us to work together, not just in our corner of the vineyard. But with other Christians. And people of other faiths. To make a difference:

~schools that honor the children we entrust to them.
~jobs that return a good living for the work we invest.
~streets that are safe and clean, and welcome everyone, no matter what neighborhood you are in.
~homes and healthcare that are worthy of the sacredness and guard against the frailty of God’s children…

Please join me this Sunday afternoon, June 5, at the POWER Assembly, as we join with others across this city and its spectrum of communities, ethnicities, and religions, to stand together, to say together: “People matter; and our common witness to the power of our various faiths is working toward a world that is a good home for every last one of us.”

See you in church,

Michael

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