July 2, 2017
Stetson Memorial UMC
“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”
Adapted from Marcia McPhee’
“On the Mend” Sermon Series
Psalm 89:1-4; 15-18
Isaiah 40:3; John 1:23
1 Corinthians 13:13
“The Voice of Truth’s Healing Rain…!”
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 Mathew, chapter 28, verses 18-20 Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you, and I…
(Read Scripture from the NIV Bible)
As the girls walked together to visit Grace, neither of them knew what was in store for them and their friendship. They had more to learn as the journeyed together to a place much bigger than themselves.
“I don’t know Joy; do you really think that it really is all that easy. You that forgiving thing,” Hope asked as they talked on the way to visit Grace. “Well…no it’s not quite that easy. It takes work but if we think about all that God forgives us for, we surely can forgive what others do to us.” Joy said as she pondered Hope’s question. “Um about that God thing. I am not really all that sure if I truly believe. With all the things that have happened in my life, I have a hard time believing in a God that would allow that.” Hope said as she looked at the floor. “Well…look at Grace. She should have died but she didn’t. There is no way that she could have if God hadn’t stepped in and intervened in her life. And now she is coming home in a couple of days…now that’s a miracle.” Joy said through tears of joy.
“Ok but why did it have to happen in the first place. Grace didn’t deserve that happening to her but it did. She is a good person and if there is a God and He allowed it, I just don’t know Joy…” Hope said through her own tears of doubt. “I don’t have all the answers Hope but the one thing I do have is faith…faith that I serve a God of love and hope, faith that God will work all things out, even faith that you and I have met for a reason much higher than either of us can imagine…” “Do you really think so Joy? I have not figured out yet why either of you would want me around but I am glad you do” “Hope…you have no idea of what you do to those around you. You see…you give hope. When I finally got to know you I had hope for the future…you gave me hope as I had my own questions. Hope…if there was no Hope…there would be no hope.” “Ok…now you made me cry…” as both Joy and hope kind of laughed together.
“What’s so funny” Grace asked as the girls entered her room, “did I miss something?” “If you only knew…” Hope laughed. “Yah if you only knew” Joy said still laughing. “Well…I have plenty of time. Come on…spill it” Grace said with a smile. Both Hope and Joy sat in a chair beside the bed and began to tell her the story of all that had happened in the past few days.
But that part of the story is for another day…
Good morning. Well here we are together again. We have been walking this road of healing with each other for 10 weeks now and we now have reached a place of decision. We have heard Hope’s story…as I have said, this is not all of hopes story…I have more for her. I am not finished writing her story, much more about her journey and the people she encounters on it…
For weeks now we have been talking about what ails us. We have had a lot of good conversation over our ailments as we have been interactive with one another during our sermon time…so, please participate as the Spirit leads you. In the story that I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out for me is Hope wasn’t sure she believed. She was lost and was searching for answers. I thought that she was more set in her faith. She had been trying to find a place to be accepted but I think she was also trying to find a place to encounter God…
I truly believe that we as Christ church…followers of the Way…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. We need to heal what ails us to be the relevant Christians. We need to let go and let God as we move forward as God’s people and take back our streets…the places where we are called to share the Gospel of Grace, Hope, Joy, and Faith. Without healing, what ails us we can’t call ourselves Christ followers because we can’t follow His example in the world. We want to be those Resurrected people. We can spend the tomb with our comfortable “death cloths” …not leaving those things behind that bind us… But we need to put on the robe of righteousness that we receive in and through Christ.
Today I want us to continue to talk about the what next as we have discovered and understood our ailments we, as humanity, are plagued with…that stop us from living that life in Christ. We need mending…we are all broken. If we say we are not we lie. We live in a fallen world…we live in a world of chaos…we live in a place where everything is turned upside down. But praise Jesus, He can turn it all right-side up for us again as we travel the road of healing and are mended from the inside out. What in us needs mending? My hope is that as we continue to have that conversation it will lead to healing. Conversation is hard but it is vital if we want to be that vital congregation for Christ.
So, some of the ailments we have talked about are…
- Our intentions and the fact that, whether we like it or not, there are times when our intentions may be not so helpful.
- 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.
- Fear is one of the biggest things that keeps us from being who God would have us be. Fear immobilizes us and keeps us stuck in the mud…unable to move forward for Christ and the Good News. Maybe even the fear of Hope as she is walking through our door…
- There is also the sickness of “pride”. Pride is not a bad thing unless it gets in the way of being that loving community that the “Hope’s” of the world need.
- The disease of division. As we work together…and not just give up and leave…the most important thing to remember is we need to take our division to the Way Maker, our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, He will stand in gap for us as we work our way back to unity and as we bring our hurts and ailments to the Balm of Gilead, we are healed from the inside out.
- Another thing that ails us as people and as a church is Miss-Trust. Lady Ms. Trust loves to come in and stir up a whole lot of nothing and sit back as we begin to come unglued together because we are suspicious and untrusting each other.
- “holdouts” … holding on to things that should be released to God. They keep pushing the bolder up the hill and not letting the Creator of all make rubble out of it…
- Power struggles-the ones who have a need to control. This one began with the first twelve disciples and continues today.
- Blindness- we are blind to what is around us. We are needing to have our eyes opened and receive new sight… It is all about faith…
So here we are at the “what next” part of our journey together. After all that we have heard and contemplated, what do you think the next step should be and why? Give time to answer. Do we walk alone…are we doing this within our own power? Give time to answer. The Matthew I read this morning tells us the answer to that. As a matter of fact, Jesus even prayed for us…but we will talk more on that next week as we prepare to walk in our calling to make disciples.
John 14:12-14, Jesus tells His Disciples and us: 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Jesus is with us always and whatever we ask in His name will happen. That includes healing our ailments so that we can go out and make disciples of all nations.
Isaiah 40:3 states, “A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.” As well John 1:23, “John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” We are that voice calling in the desert.
We are the “John’s” of this world. We are God’s prophet declaring His word.
Beloved children of the Most High God. Are we going to listen to Jesus as He calls us out of our tombs and in to His Glorious Light and be healed? What is ailing us…as a church…as individuals…as one body? How can webe 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 we cannot/will not let fear stop us from healing what ails us, personally and collectively. This is a process. It would be awesome if we were all done with the healing like we are with this sermon series. But just like with Hope, it is a process that takes time and courage.
But, but, we cannot and will not fail. We are the only safe harbor for our community and beyond. We have been told that we will remain…we are relevant in this community. In fact, Jesus is counting on us to be His image in our little part of the world and beyond. Think about the Hope’s of this world.
We are ready to reach out to Hope and hold to her for dear life. Hope is ready to come in now…Maybe…just maybe…we too will find hope in Hope, we to will be joyful as we find our Joy in the world…and be changed forever by Grace…because we have Faith and an enhanced view of the world around us because we have chosen to understand…through the Eyes of Love… And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. …