May 14, 2017
Stetson Memorial UMC
“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”
Adapted from Marcia McPhee’
“On the Mend” Sermon Series
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
“There Is Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself! …”
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 8, verses 27-38. Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…
(Read Scripture from the NIV Bible)
As Hope and Joy walked down to the diner together Hope thought ”maybe this one is different.” Joy thought “maybe this one is different”… Neither knew how much they really needed each other…
As they entered the diner a hush came to the room. There was a sign that said “please wait to be seated.” They waited to be seated but no one came to seat them. “Maybe we should just go” Hope thought, “I have been in this situation before”. Joy flagged over a waitress that was walking by. “Read the sign…someone will be right with you” the waitress said. “But we have been waiting for a while and no one has even acknowledged that we are standing here waiting”, Joy said, “is there some kind of problem?” “No problem for you…” the waitress answered “but your friend…well let’s say we don’t serve her kind.” “What do you mean “her kind” asked Joy…she was beginning to see this was not really a good pace for them to have a bite to eat…not the right place at all.
“Look…I don’t make the rules here, I just follow them” she said, “We have dealt with her kind before, those pierced, tattooed, head banging, thugs. We don’t want any trouble here. Besides, have you noticed she has a “year-round tan. Those dirty people need to go back to where they came from.” Joy was appalled… “I have been coming here for a long time and now you want to tell me who I can and who I cannot bring for a bite to eat?”
Hope stood there waiting for what to come next…it always came next…it is why she had been afraid of trying to make friends…trying to be a part of something great than herself…. rejection! Everyone was afraid of her. She was different. She lived her life different, looked different, talked different. She knew that people were afraid of her. This truth made Hope feel hopeless. But what happened next almost made her crumble to the ground…”You know what,” Joy said “I don’t think I will be coming here anymore…and guess what, all those people that have been coming here with me won’t be coming either. Hope began to weep, “and another thing…if you think there is something wrong with my friend Hope, you need to look in the mirror to see the real ugly, repulsive thing in your life…yourself”.
At this point, Hope was sitting on the floor, “why would she do that for me? Why would Joy tell them that they were the one with the issue and not her? What is going on here? Is this really happening? Has my prayers really been heard and answered? Thank you, God, even for this one moment of being accepted.” Hope thought and prayed to herself. Joy helped Hope to her feet, “Come on Hope,” she said, “we know when we are not wanted…” Hope stood and clung to Joy… “could this really be happening” she thought. “Let’s go to y place and I will make us something to eat. At least we won’t have the stench of bigotry and fear as our dinner guest.”
Good morning. Over the past couple of weeks, we have had a of conversation. This morning I want us to continue to be interactive with each other as we have been. 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 how fearless Joy was. She not only left her friends at the bible study to think about what “WWJD” meant but she stood up for someone that she really didn’t even know…
This is what I mean when I use the phrase “Fearless Christian”, willing to stand up for other and for the Gospel of Christ. Also what stood out for me is the waitress and her attitude. They were running on fear of the past and didn’t want to see the possibilities of the present and future… Fear is a sickness I think we all face at times but it is what we do with it that counts…
As I have said, 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 bind us…and put on the robe of righteousness that we receive in and through Christ.
We are continuing to talk about some of the things that ail us…that stop us from living that life in Christ, as we mend fences and heal the heart As I have said, 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. 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.
We have talked about intentions and the fact that, whether we like it or not, there are times when our intentions …our good intentions…may be not so helpful. 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. At times that our “religious laws” keep us and others away from the blessings and peace that God intends for us to have. We talked about those times that our inhibitions keep us from being open to others. How there are many things that cause us to be closed off to the very ones that Jesus came to save…including ourselves.
One of the biggest inhibitions we have is the inhibition of “fear.” When we are afraid…for whatever reason…we become infected with the sickness of fear. Let’s talk about fear. How many of you feel fear? Give time to answer. Do you think the church is afraid and what do you think it is afraid of? Give time to answer. Ok…here’s the hard one, what do you think this church’s fear is and why? Give time to answer.
In the scripture I read this morning, we hear Peter…the rock…rebuking Jesus. Why do you think he did that? Give time to answer. A think Peter was afraid. He didn’t want to lose his teacher and friend. He did want his friend to keep talking about His death…that kind of talk just wouldn’t work for Peter. Peter didn’t understand that Jesus dying on the cross was Him following what His purpose was, why He came. Peter also didn’t understand that there is a price to follow God’s leading…leaving our fear behind…leaving or hang ups behind…leaving our prejudices, our biases…our preconceptions behind…and follow where ever He leads.
This fact was solidified…this was proven…by the second part of the scripture of Mark. Deny ourselves and take up our cross…we need to lose our life…lose our fears…to save our lives (and the lives of others). If we let the sickness of fear continue to keep its grips around our throats…personally and collectively, we will die… If we let fear take control of our lives and not move out of our death cloths into the robe of righteousness then Jesus’ victory over sin and death is sort of made null and void in our lives. If we are afraid of the price of the cross…our cross…then how can we fulfill our call to make disciples for Christ? If we let fear control and we not move out into our calling…are we denying Jesus?
Beloved children of the Most High God. Jesus is calling us out of our tombs of what ails us in to His glorious Light and be healed. 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 should we let fear stop us from being Fearless Christians? What if hope came through our door? Would we fear her or even worse…would she ear us? 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 set her fears at the foot of the cross and be healed and loved. Maybe…just maybe…she will come through our doors. The question is…are we willing to let her in…?