Sermon from Sunday July 10

I do not preach politics or sociology because it is not the Gospel. It is the context for the Gospel. The reason Christ created the church & sent it into the world is to carry God’s good news into the world.  The circumstances of the world are the context into which Christ comes with his mercy, forgiveness & reconciliation.

All your paths, O Lord, are steadfast love and faithfulness Psalm 25:10

In other words, everything about you O Lord is steadfast love & utterly reliable faithfulness. Regardless of context!

The cross of Jesus Christ  is God’s steadfast love & utterly reliable faithfulness.

And it is exactly FOR the context of this world.

The church’s job; my job as a Christian; your job as a Christian  is to BRING the good news of Christ’s cross, — bodily, personally-­ into every circumstance of the world.

If you do not know what that means or how to understand it, don’t panic & don’t give up.

That’s one more circumstance into which Christ comes with his cross, his mercy, forgiveness & reconciliation.

I mention politics and sociology today as the context into which the Gospel speaks because of the political/sociological horror of last week.

Our country is acutely traumatized by the events of this past week, this past month, this past year. These past 4 years — (Trayvon Martin was murdered in 2012)

There’s a cumulative effect!

Our face is rubbed in the mess we have created:  We are starkly confronted w/ the injustice that is the fruit of our injustice.

In particular, I am speaking of a system rigged against brown & black people, and in favor of white people, with white MEN, like me, having most favored status.  Two MORE black men were killed by police…

Alton Sterling–Baton Rouge, LA

Philando Castile — Falcon Heights MN

These precious lives are now part of the sickening statistic of the disproportionate number of black men killed by cops for doing nothing wrong or something incredibly petty. Eric Garner was selling single cigarettes on the sidewalk, 12yr old Tamir Rice was playing with a toy gun in a public park.

Many angry, fearful, people have no expectation that any justice will done.  In this system Black lives simply don’t matter as much as white lives, even if you want them to and think they should.

Then 5 Dallas cops are murdered just for going to work & doing their job:

Brent Thompson,

Patrick Zamarripa,

Michael Krol,

Lorne Ahrens,

Michael Smith

Murdered by a retaliating sniper who was then himself killed.  This is misery unspeakable. Add to this the horrific bombings in the past 2 weeks in Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Orlando, Turkey, Iraq.  Our faces are rubbed in it.

There is tremendous pressure to say something or do something. There is pressure from outside us and pressure from inside us. And we certainly must respond.

The main pressure from the outside is political pressure or peer pressure to get you to say or do something so that people can judge if you care… & care appropriately!

That way they can determine if you are on their team or not! Then you can be accepted or rejected on that basis.

There are many teams:

The Black lives matter team

The Blue lives matter team

The Hillary team

The Trump team

The Bernie team

The progressive team

The patriotic team

The conservative team.

There is the demand to know: “whose side are you on anyway?”   This pressure serves mostly to divide us, not unite us, not encourage us to listen to others with understanding before we act. But to get on the right side of things.  This pressure exploits the pressures that are inside you & me.

Our own feelings of indignation, grief, fear, & our bewilderment & shock, all make us want to respond, quickly & rightly!

There is a lot of inner-pressure to self-justify, like the lawyer in today’s Gospel story (Luke 10:25-37). There is a strong desire to show ourselves that at least, WE are mostly innocent. This is the pressure that the teams leverage.

“Wanna be most innocent? Be on our team!” Christians are not in the business of protecting our innocence. Instead, we confess our sin and rely on God’s mercy.  So, do not give into the pressure to self-justify.

Instead, hear this: The Holy Spirit is also applying a pressure from within, prompting the Church – you &me, to carry the steadfast love & faithfulness of God into this situation.

This is POWER that far exceeds any political power. It is power that leads to loving action.  The Holy Spirit pressures us to imitate God’s steadfast, faithful love. The love we see in Christ’s death on the cross:  Self-giving, self-outpouring love.

It is power that looks like weakness and foolishness, but not to us who are being saved by it.

Christ was no victim, in any powerless, passive, sense.

As he says:

I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. John 10:17–18   So imitating Christ means acting powerfully and willingly, ON BEHALF OF OTHERS!

Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

(Ga 6:2). It requires power to bear burdens. You & I are invited to take up burdens you might not consider your own. Bring your own resources to the service of the neighbor. White Christians should stop trying to prove their relative innocence, stop trying to deny white privilege and instead say, “If I am privileged — so be it!

NOW I will learn in what way I am privileged, and then USE it on behalf of my black and brown neighbors. Not so I can look good – to myself or others, not so I can be on the righteous team.  But because this is the ONLY thing it means to have my God as my God.  This is what God’s steadfast love & faithfulness makes of me.

I may not be much, but I’ll offer whatever I am.” “And in imitation of God I’ll keep offering it” because faithfulness is not episodic.

If someone has episodes of faithfulness the name of that is unfaithful. Unreliable. Steadfast love is not episodic. You don’t have episodes of steadfast love. Episodes are the opposite of steadfastness. Steadfast love is constant, dedicated, unwavering love.  Love that is all in.  That’s the love of Jesus Christ’s death & resurrection.  It is self-giving love that does not dissipate b/c context or circumstance!

All your paths, O Lord, are steadfast love and faithfulness Psalm 25:10.  This self-giving love may not be appreciated. Jesus did not say “love your enemies” because he thought the enemies would then appreciate you.  We do what we do because we have the God we have [Whose] paths… are steadfast love and faithfulness

Now in the context of this horrible week, in this miserable world, we will proclaim the victory of Christ, our faithful God, we receive him, body & blood, given & shed for us for the reconciliation of the whole world.