Sermons on boundaries
Here we are “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And you shall speak whatever I command you, Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord. In the name of God who is Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, Amen. Well… look at us! Here we are. Our Sunday morning worship looks a little different than usual, doesn’t it? We are…
At the end of the day, the world will either be a more or less kind, compassionate and loving place – And I would add – a more or less united, peaceful, and grace-filled place – Because of your presence. We can choose to water down the way of love so as to never make a mark on the world, to never cause someone to make a choice or consider another option, or bring peace into difficult situations, or we can choose to be as Jesus, impassioned, fueled by the Spirit, and desiring to bring the Kingdom of God in now. It’s your move.
During Lent, when we encountered the “in-your-face” Jesus, the one who purposefully caused disruption in the temple, the one who vehemently pushed back against practices of social injustice, the one who chose always to be politically incorrect, the one who touched the untouchables, who deliberately crossed over social boundaries and made a point of speaking this truth to those in power, and not necessarily speaking that truth in love, I longed for Jesus the Good Shepherd. I yearned to hear…
The baby in the manger means more to us than reaching the outsiders, although that is a core role of the church. It means that Jesus is born for all of God’s people, including those who have been outside so long that they’ve given up on God, those so down in despair, so blue at this time when everyone else is celebrating, those who look in the mirror and wonder who this is who they have become, for it seems to be the worst of themselves. The baby in the manger is the good news we must believe in, as we are sitting in the pews, celebrating and living the good news in Christ. We must believe God is sending angels out into the fields, wherever they may be, hospitals, recovery units, prisons, homeless shelters, refugee camps, cancer units, or into our hearts.
It is that sideways glance that always gets us in trouble. It is that furtive frown of displeasure that is our downfall. It is that secretive squint that seduces us into the wrong place. It can be the swift look of condemnation of the baby wailing beside us, when, even momentarily, the thought crosses our brains: “Why can’t that mother control her child?” It can be the nearly cautious look of disapproval as we pass the disfigured person on the street. It can be our impatience portrayed in the rolling of our eyes that gives our secret away.
Clearly one main message of this parable is that wealth is a snare, which will eventually lead to our suffering, poverty, and deep hunger. Our story tells us the only way to avoid the snare is to heed God’s relentless commands to aid the poor and sick. Jesus is challenging us to care from a place that costs us something within: the destruction of whatever boundaries we have created to protect our lives, heart or status.