But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children (Deuteronomy 4: 1-2, 6-9)
...be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves….Religion that is pure and undefiled before God...is this: to care for the orphans and widows in their distress. (James 1:17-27)
Jesus said, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile. For it is from within, from the human heart that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride , folly.” (Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23)
Sometimes what the scriptures offer us is not only perfect, but exactly what we need to hear at a given moment. And I really wrestled with what I wanted to share with you this morning thinking that perhaps I could add something to what has already been given to us in these lessons.
So over the week, while sitting in the classroom, in the hotel room, in the airport, I wondered what we might hear and learn from these texts. My initial thoughts were:
--It’s been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina. Did it impact your life? If not, why not? If so, in what ways? Was it another one of those defining moments in our life as a country where we came together to support one another, or did we turn a blind eye to the suffering of those who are different from us? Was it a wake up call about climate change for you? Was it the first or 50th time that you became aware of the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable among us? Was it an opportunity for you to recognize the connection between poverty and racism that has continued to exist in our country even though we claim equality and justice for all? What did you learn from the events of Katrina, that you want passed on to your children and your children’s children?
--How do we take care of one another? What does it mean to be “doers” of the word? Don’t I already have enough on my “to do” list? What if we revision what it means to be a “doer”...that it isn’t about creating a checklist or todo list on how to be a “good Christian”. What if it means opening our hearts and minds to hear God calling us to re-member ourselves, to see each other as the perfect children of God, to love one another as God loves us, to share all that we are and all that we have with each other, with the creation, with our communities...that this is to be a “doer” of the world.
--I spent 16 hours in a classroom learning about the African diaspora, how the culture, music, spirituality, work, and traditions of Africa--the Kems, the Nubians and the Kush--moved along the river Nile, throughout what we know as the African continent, and throughout the world via the trading of goods, the trading of people, and the intermixing and migration of people over centuries all the way back to the Paleolithic era. We talked about our percussive beginnings as people; that drumming was a call & response with the earth and other species, and with one another over long distances. We talked about the power of “right speech” and “truth telling” through our bodies, our songs, and our stories. We talked about being prophetic in our words and actions. We talked about the reciprocal relationship that we have with one another, the Divine, the world, and all of creation.
And I know that somewhere in all of my thinking and tinkering around with the words from Deuteronomy, from James and the Gospel of Mark that all of this matters and is connected...that there is a sermon in there.
Then I made the decision that I sometimes talk too much. And right now, I feel that there is wisdom, stories and reflections in this room that need to be shared. So I’m going to stop talking and invite you to talk.
I’d like you to break up into little groups of 2...preferable not with your spouse or the person you’re sitting next to...so you’re going to have to move to a new seat, but take your bulletin with you because you’ll need it. It’s ok, you can do this.
Now that you’re in your groups, I invite you to share with your partners what in these lessons is important to you...which of the words or phrases is drawing you in, challenging you, or recalling a memory. Why do these words or phrases matter?
I’m going to time you, so that each person has 3 minutes. The first person will share without interruption from their partner. Once you have finished sharing, say thank you to your partner for listening. Then you’ll switch. Share without interruption. Say thank you. At the end, we’ll share as we feel called.
Don’t be anxious. You don’t have to “fix” anything for each other.
Time for sharing…
Holy God, empower us to be doers of your word. Bless us in our doing. Help us not to ignore the cries of those in need, but to respond in loving service. Be with us at all times and in all places as we tell our stories to our children and our children’s children, so that we can re-member that all of us are your beloved children. amen.
I don't know what the future of the church is, but I know that we will continue to be a place of sanctuary and hope, working towards healing in the world.