May 7, 2017
Stetson Memorial UMC
“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”
“Live Life Abandoned!”
Adapted from Marcia McPhee’
“On the Mend” Sermon Series
“Live Life Abandoned! …”
The Lord be with you
And also with you
Let us pray (Prayer that God’s Word is heard through me or in-spite of me)
Please stand for the Gospel according to Mark, chapter 7, verses 24-37. Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…
(Read Scripture from the NIV Bible)
Hope wandered through the streets. Where was she to go on this cold December day. It was below freezing but she hardly felt it at all. It didn’t seem to matter to her. She had become numb to the cold and numb to those around her. She had been through so much and she decided that there was no one that she could trust and nowhere to go. She had tried before and failed…failed miserably. She decided that she was just going to live her life alone…the alternative was not too appetizing for her.
As she entered the coffee shop, she walked by a group of people that seemed to be have some sort of study together. They looked up at her and quickly looked away. They didn’t want to make eye contact with her so they pretended to be reading their bibles. Hope went up to the counter, ordered her coffee and left. She thought that if only someone would actually look past her exterior they would finally see her for who she was…but what exactly was that?
“Thank God that woman left. She looked as if she was going come over to our table” one of the bible study participants said. “Awkward” said another. “That’s not very nice” another said, “maybe she just wanted to say Hi”. “Awe come on, you really think that is all she wanted? She looked like some druggy or something…you don’t know what those people will do…she probably would have pick pocketed our something,” said another. “Ok…we are sitting here in bible study and you are all talking like she is a leper or something. I am going to go see if I can find her while you guys figure out what W.W.J.D. really means.”
“Hey wait up” she said to Hope. Hope turned around to see who was talking but turned right back around and kept walking. “Hey you …yah you…wait up.” Hope stopped in her tacks. “What do you want…to make fun of me or something? Why don’t you just go back to your study buddies and leave me alone.” The girls said “ I am sorry for my so called friends. Are you ok…you look like you could use a friend to talk to.” “Wait…you…a so called Christian want to talk with me? What’s the bottom line? What do you really want?” “Nothing” the girl said “ I just thought you looked like you needed a friend. My name is Joy. What’s yours”? “My name is Hope” she said. “You wanna go somewhere and catch a bite to eat?” “I don’t think I could afford that” Hope said. “My treat” said Joy. As they walked down to the dinner together Hope thought ”maybe this one is different.” Joy thought “maybe this one is different”… Neither knew how much they really needed each other…
Good morning. This morning I want us to continue to be interactive with each other as we were last week. I need audience participation. So please play along as the Spirit leads…In the story I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out for me is the people in the “bible study”. How closed off they were to Hope…
Beloved, we as Christ church need to have conversation of what ails us. What is hurting inside of us. What hold us back from living the life, individually and collective, that we are offered through Jesus. If we are to live life abandoned to Christ, we need to let go and let God as we move forward as God’s people and take hold of the land. If we don’t we are like the Israelites wandering in the desert…not seeing the promised land. All too often, we sound a lot like this “group” of people. If we are to live our lives as Resurrection people we need to act as if we have been resurrected. All too often we are stuck in the tomb with our comfortable “death cloths” on not wanting to come out being seen naked…leaving those things behind that binds us…and put on the robe of righteousness that we receive in and through Christ.
Over the next few weeks we will be talking about some of the things that ail us…that stop us from living that life in Christ. We will be mending fences and healing the heart with one another. And there may be no fences that need mending but we are all broken. What in us needs mending? My hope is that we will have that conversation that will lead to healing. Not only that but after the service each Sunday, I invite us to have further conversation…living room conversation with each other in the green room with a little coffee…a little snack and I hope a whole lot of conversation and mending. There will be a week that my friend Margaret will come for you to have conversation with her of what ails your heart. Conversation is hard but it is vital if we want to be that vital congregation for Christ.
Last week we talked about intentions and the fact that there are times that our intentions…our good intentions…may be not so helpful. Our attitudes, at times, can be seen as exclusive instead of being inclusive as we are called to be. We all bring something to the table and it may be that very thing that keeps us from being the people god has called us to be. There are times that our “religious laws” keep us and others away from the blessings and peace that God intends for us to have.
What do you think about inhibitions? Do you think that they can cause us to actually need healing in order to live life abandoned to God and our “co-inhabitants” in the world in which we live? Give time for people to answer…
The definition of inhibition is:
something that forbids, debars, or restricts
- an inner impediment to free activity, expression, or functioning
From the scripture I read this morning, we see two types of people…one with no inhibitions and one that was being inhibited. The woman knew who Jesus was and that being a woman in that day and time you didn’t just walk up to a man and star talking to them…let alone a Rabbi…unless it was your husband. But Jesus was different and she knew that. She had a daughter who needed healing and she was going to stop at nothing to get it. Even when Jesus told her…well pretty much to go away…she was uninhibited and was not going anywhere until this healer called Jesus healed her child. Now know that Jesus was pretty radical I think that He was actually testing her faith…how much did she really believe in Jesus…would she walk away or would she trust in His mercy as she pleaded the case for her child… And what happened for her because being uninhibited? She was able to live life abandoned to the one who brought healing. We too need to come to the throne of grace…uninhibited…recklessly abandoned to and for the One who says be healed…then we see the miracle…
Then we have the man who was deaf in the scripture this morning. This man was closed off from the world. He had no place and no stature in the culture he lived in. He was shut out and held back from living a life with meaning. We too can be like this deaf-mute man. WE shut things out and hold things in. WE don’t speak when we should. There are times we are afraid to speak because of things that have happened in the past and we are afraid to speak and become deaf to the cries around us… Why do you think we shut things out and are unable to speak…we become inhibited? Give time to answer… So, what do you think will bring healing? Give time to answer… Sometimes healing means facing difficult things…those things we find hard to talk about. What are some of the things that you think are causing Christ’s church to be like that deaf-mute man? Give time to answer. What happened when the healer of our souls “opened” him up to the possibility of life abandoned? Give time to answer… He lived abandoned tell everyone about the miracle of Jesus… We too are able to live life abandoned to Christ as we heal what ails us…talk about those closed off things as Jesus tells us to be “open”.
Beloved children of the Most High God. What is ailing us…as a church…as individuals…as one body? How can we be on the mend, of fences and our hearts? I know that there are things we just don’t want to talk about…there are things that we just don’t want to hear. But does that mean we turn a deaf ear and become mute? What would it take for you and me to be “open” to the possibilities that God is placing before us? Shutting things out and holding things in is dangerous to our personal, spiritual and church life. What if hope came through our door? Do you think that she would be open to us…or would we be open to her? I ask that we prayerfully come together…as family…to heal what ails us. Let us become that group that the Hope would be to talk about the tough things and be healed of her own deafness as our ears are opened to the cries of those around us and our mouths opened for justice and mercy. Maybe…just maybe…she will come through our doors. The question is…are we willing to let her in…?