Reformation Now

Image result for sermonsPentecost 19, 2017 – Pastor Pitts,

Grace and peace to you,

My sisters and brothers and siblings in Christ

As seasons wane,

And Creation draws its energy inward

To sustain life

In these days of stillness

May we turn towards the One,

In these days of chaos and uncertainty

Who will shepherd us O God,

Beyond our wants

Beyond our needs

From Death into Life

Amen

(pause)

Every Thursday,

As time transforms from the end of the day,

Morphing into something new

I sit in the silence,

I lament to the Holy Spirit

My struggles with the small

But mighty number of students

That gather for a Word and a Meal.

And in conversations with fellow colleagues,

It seems my experience

Is not isolated.

And the why’s begin to reverberate

Perhaps its due to the beginning of the academic year,

Perhaps the word that comes from within,

That they are receiving,

Along their spiritual journey

Is just to remain still,

Perhaps even,

Is because they see the flaws

Of the rhetoric that we subscribe to,

Instead of the WORD from GOD we should cling to.

(pause)

We profess publicly

That we believe in this life altering

Reformation

Movement.

This movement which opened up a starving people

To the life renewing Spirit of truth,

Giving them life,

Through the Scriptures

But did we leave

That transforming revival moment,

Nailed to that ancient door?

(pause)

 Such a juxtaposition

of images

in our Scriptures

before us,

about God,

that causes me

to question

how would someone who is still wondering about faith

about how Grace

and Mercy,

and Peace

And community

Is defined

Here?

 (pause)

In the Psalms,

Words spill out from within

A nameless poet and singer

Of an ever present Hope

Regardless of what we are facing

Loss

Frustration

Abandonment

Even

Bewilderment

At the state of this,

Our world

Outside our door.

(pause)

The Creator God,

Always

There

Always

Loving us

Marking and

Sealing us as God’s Own  

(pause)

And we can imagine

That this Psalm

Is being chanted

Whispered

Spoken

In many sacred and ordinary places

Like in the tattered remains

Of the echoes of thriving life

In Puerto Rico, and many other places,

Where we, here in these “united” States

Have long deemed as

unimportant

(pause)

These words,

are giving comfort to those gathered

In living rooms

And around dining room tables

Trying not to acknowledge the void left,

The empty chair,

The light diminished,

Emulating from a sister or brother,

A parent or a friend

Who simply wanted to enjoy a night out,

Dancing at a club

Or listening to a concert

Or simply walking down a street,

Enjoying the last bit

Of a fading summer’s breath.

(pause)

This Psalm

Reminding us

That we should not fear,

Because the comforter is among us,

Is spoken during weeping

Outside of doctor’s offices

Community clinics

And hospital rooms

Where families are caught between

The care that needs to be given,

And the emptiness in their pockets

And the absence of access

To health insurance,

So much so

That their bodies will

Always remain

Physically broken

And scarred

(pause)

So,

We should not be surprised,

When people shy away from the proverbial four walls

Because if we are confessional,

We have built up a façade

Of what it means

To be Christian

Because it seems,

As the collective body of believers,

And if we are bold to say,

Christians,

Especially as confessing that

This is a Christian nation,

Christians have abandoned the Table

Where the gift of Life,

The Bread and Wine

The Body and Blood

Of Jesus

Is there,

For us FREELY

Without cost

Without price.

(pause)

Instead,

We have replaced it

With an ideology

Of the dominant, oppressing culture

That offers grace,

With narrow conditions

We have replaced the shepherd

With a callous King,

Who seemingly has no patience

Instead of teaching,

He demands obedience

Instead of freedom to experience life

He demands perfection

And those that he gathers at his table,

Is merely just for show

Parading his brute force

And false might

There is no room for error,

with this king,

I cannot see this king

In our Gospel

As Jesus nor the One,

Who loves us

Forgives US

In spite of everything that we do.

(pause)

Because we have allowed ourselves,

Collectively as

A dysfunctional body of faith

We have preferred to segregate ourselves,

With people that we are comfortable with

Instead of those that express their righteous anger

Jolting us back to kneeling at Jesus’s feet,

To do the work that we are called to do,

Because of the forgotten commandment

Of loving one another,

Which means

Working for wholeness

Equaling wellness and health care

Which means

Mercy,

Equaling restorative justice

Forgiveness of those who break the law,

Which means

Grace

Equaling understanding

Not reluctance and apathy

Which means

Peace

Equaling cooperation

Not

Devastation.

(pause)

We have replaced

A theology of the Cross

With one

Of glory

A Theology of Glory,

As one Elder stated on Facebook yesterday,

“is Jesus without the wounds of suffering

And death.

Ultimately,

That depiction of Jesus

Ignores real suffering

And death

In the world.”

Are we,

In our constricted understanding

Of the liberation

Of God’s Word

Projecting this miseducation out

From these collective spaces

Until,

Psalm 23

Becomes this desperate CRY

Of where is Our Shepherd

When we don’t hear an answer?

(pause)

No wonder,

Psalm 23

For many of us

Broken

Searching

Fearful

Is a constant chant

Because

We are not ashamed

To say,

We

Need

God!

(pause)

But even here,

In these words

There is Good News

It is because the Creator

IS AFFIRMING

IS PRESENT

We have NO REASON TO FEAR

It is because the Creator

Calls ALL OF US

To the Banquet

REGARDLESS

Of our shortcomings

Our failings

(pause)

It is because

We are shown love

Through being FED

We should be MOVED

To do what we have been commanded

THIS important work of building one another UP

That lies before us.

Because this

Reformation movement

DID NOT END

500 years ago

It is a battle CRY FOR THE HERE AND NOW

IT is what we need NOW

So that

Psalm 23

Becomes a prophetic proclamation

“The Lord is my Shepherd

I will never,

Ever

Be in want!”

Thanks Be to God.