Sunday, August 02, 2009

The perfect sermon...

...according to my church's music director, by which he means "short." But thought it might of interest to some of the Saturday Sermon Party Rev Gals, who were there for the creation. Also, Rachel, who provided the quotation.

Grow Up!
Sermon on Ephesians 4:4-16

In case you have been completely insulated from all American media for the last 2 weeks, let me catch you up.

On July 16, African American Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr was arrested by white policeman Sgt Joseph Crowley for breaking and entering into his own home, after Gates experienced some difficulty with the front door key. Gates was released a couple hours later when the mistake was discovered but he was shaken and angry and he started telling people what had happened. When President Barack Obama heard about the situation, he called it a “stupid act,” setting off a media frenzy. The president then suggested that he meet with the 2 men over drinks, exciting the media --who dubbed the meeting The Beer Summit -- even more.

Late night comedians in particular have been having a heyday, especially David Letterman, who on Friday bestowed upon the beer summit his highest honor, when he created a top 10 list about it. Well, if Letterman can do it, why can't all of us? What about:

The Top Ten Things Christians Can Learn From the Beer Summit

10. When you make a mistake, admit it
More than one mistake was made in this situation, which makes it tempting to let the other guy take the blame. Just before the passage in Ephesians we heard today, the author urges one-ness beginning with humility. Part of humility is taking responsibility for your part, saying “Mistakes were made – some of them by me.”

9. Rcognize and appreciate diversity
Or, maybe we could call this one: “a professor, a policeman and a president sat down over a beer.” Or, in the words of playwright Lisa Kron, "Other people are not you with their own experience laid on top.” Henry Gates is not just a James Crowley who happens to be black and have a PHD. The racism he has encountered in his life has shaped him in a way that must be understood before Gates and Crowley can sit down together. It’s one thing to see the differences, another to acknowledge them as gifts. The gifts he gave, says the writer of Ephesians, were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers. Each very different. Each very needed. But...

8. ...Remember that more unites us than divides us
This is not just political rhetoric, convenient for an election year. Listen to Ephesians: one body, one Spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. Unity.

7. Sit around the table together
A policeman, a professor and a president probably wouldn't usually bump into each other in the course of everyday business. How about a black person, a brown person and white person? How about a Christian, a muslim, a jew? An Iraqi, an Ethopian and an Oregonian? Seek out those whose difference from you makes you a little squirmy.

6. Share a cup…of something
Once you’re around the table, what do you do there? You recognize, Ephsians says, that “each of us was given grace.” Strangers share cold drinks around a picnic table on a hot summer day. Grace. Around the world, including here in this building this morning, Christians share at the table of Christ. Grace.

5. Do the right thing.
Some people ask if the whole beer summit thing is just a big distraction for a media tired of Michael Jackson and health care. Some people scoff that 3 guys talking makes no difference. Some people say apologies are politically expedient. Forget about what some people say. Do the right thing.

4. Big things start small.
Look, three guys over beer is no big thing but look how one incident, and then one conversation has amplified the conversation about race in this country. One little conversation has started many more conversations, including this one here and now. Start somewhere. Start small

3. Don’t be afraid to go into broken places
Racism is still an unfortunate and ugly truth in our nation. We don’t like to to talk about it, because it makes us uncomfortable. As the church, however, we are charged to follow Christ -- who Ephesians says “descended into the lower parts of the earth” – into places where others are too uncomfortable, too fearful, or too angry to go.

2. Speak the truth in love
Sometimes you need to look another in the face and say something like the author of Ephesians: “We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.” In other words, don’t be a fool. In other words…

(the number one thing that Christians can learn from the Beer Summit is....)

1. Grow up!
As we baptize a baby, we make promises about helping him grow in Christian faith – really we need to make those promises to ourselves first. Growing up means all the other 9 – taking responsibility, honoring diversity, seeking unity, gathering at the table, sharing the cup, doing good in the face of opposition, starting small, going there (wherever THERE might be, speaking the truth in love. Brothers and sisters, if you hear nothing else today, it is my prayer that you hear these 2 words, that you hear them and that you live them as Christ’s disciples, spoken in love and with humility and patience, not with scorn – grow up. Amen.


Mom said...

Jen, this is realy

Songbird said...

It's an awesome message, Juniper.

Juniper said...

Thanks you 2


Sarah said...

Oh. My. Goodness. I agree this might be the perfect sermon! You should enter it in a contest; I think it would win!!! Seriously!!!

Also, I am one of the admins on a blog for our conference's Sacred Conversation on Race...could I link to it there?

Cheesehead said...

Spot on! You rock!

Deb said...

Amen! Simple only on the surface . . . but how difficult for us.

Juniper said...

Sarah, This made me smile out loud. Thanks. Yes, please link to it - I would be honored. And I dont post that many sermons - mostly because I just dont write down that many, and the ones I do write down I dont get around to - but if you want to look at one I did in support of Jeremiah Wright (much longer!) it's here.

KellyT said...

I loved hearing your words last week. They ring of truth.