May 28, 2017
Stetson Memorial UMC
“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”
Adapted from Marcia McPhee’
“On the Mend” Sermon Series
Mark 9:38-50 MSG
1Corinthians 1:10-13a (TLB)
1 Corinthians 3:1-9 (NLT)
“Out Goes Y.O.U.…”
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 9, verses 38-50. Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…
(Read Scripture from the MSG Bible)
As Hope walked away, Joy did the only thing she knew to do…she went back to the diner to talk with her friends there. “I know that they meet tonight,” she thought, “I just hope they are not too mad at me.” As she walked down the street she thought about all that Hope had said. “How dare she call me prideful,” she thought, “a girl can’t be proud of her accomplishments and her church. Really. The nerve of some people.” Nope…Joy wasn’t joyful at all.
Joy was so consumed with her thoughts that she almost walked right into Grace, one of her study friends. “Whoa…slow down there Joy. What’s the matter? Why are you hurrying so?” asked Grace. “Oh Grace” Joy said,” I am so glad to see you. I need some help here. You know that person I went after during the study the other day?” Joy asked. “Yah…that was real cool how you went after her even though everyone else was making fun of her. I just kept quiet. I wish I had your courage.” Grace exclaimed. “Well…hold on to your hat…she had the nerve to call me prideful! Am I prideful Grace?”
Grace was quiet for a moment. Then she said, “well…truthfully…you are prideful. We all are. I have been trying to work on that in my life and I have gotten better. I have decided to give God all the glory. It is because of His grace…no pun intended…that I have anything in life. All am I owe to Him.” “Awe man” Joy cried… “She was right… Hope was right…I am prideful…I thought I was just being proud of who I am but that was what I was basing my life on…not on God and what He has done for me. Oh, my gosh…I gotta find Hope. I have to apologize.” “I’ll help you find Hope. I would like to make friends with her too.” Grace said.
As they rounded the corner together there before their eyes…like an answer from heaven, was Hope. She was sat on the bench of the bus stop just crying. “Hope I am sorry. You were right…I am prideful and I hurt your feelings and I am sorry.” Joy said as she sat down next to Hope. “I thought you were different. You seemed to be real nice…you actually came after me but then you acted just like the rest.” Hope cried.
“Well we all make mistakes but it is what we do to fix them…or not fix them…is what matters,” Grace explained, “by the way, Hi, I am Grace. I am sorry about the other night with my “bible study group.” They can be such idiot’s sometimes.” “Hi Grace, I am Hope. What you said was right. I forgive you Joy. Can we start over?” “Sure, I would like that” Joy was so happy she almost couldn’t contain herself… “You know Hope…I really needed to hear what you had to say. I never realized how prideful I was. Thank you so much for opening my eyes.” “Well you know…pride cometh before fall” Grace quoted. “Oh, you just had to say that didn’t you” Joy laughed. “Yup…sure did. Hey, can I hang with you guys. Those other nerds give me a headache” Grace asked. “Sure” Hope and Joy said simultaneously… “The three amigos” they all laughed.
The three went off arm in arm, laughing and getting to know each other better. No one could have known what was going to happen next. Would their new-found friendship stand the test it was in for?
Good morning. This morning can we continue to be interactive with each other as. I really have enjoyed the way we have conversed with one another over the past few weeks… so, I need audience participation. In the story that I just shared with you, what stands out for you? Give time for answers. What stands out for me is how Grace came in to help Joy and Hope give each other grace…
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 in order to be the relevant Christians. We need to let go and let God as we move forward as God’s people and take back the land of our forefathers. 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 Resurrection people so we need to rise from the grave of the world around us. 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 some of the things that ail us…that stop us from living that life in Christ, as we mend fences and heal the heart. Now, 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… On the 11th of June, 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 may be not so helpful. 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.
Fear is one of the biggest things that keeps us from being who God would have us be. Fear of the future, fear of finances, fear of those who may come through this door…Maybe even the fear of Hope as she is walking through our door…
There is also the sickness of “pride”. Pride can cause us to do a lot of crazy things… Now being proud is not really a bad thing…we should take pride in what we do. But there are times when our pride gets in the way of being that loving community that the “Hope’s” of the world need.
I think the most vicious and viral disease in and to the body of Christ is the disease of division. It is like a cancer that grows quicker and kills faster than any other disease that the church can catch. Why do you think division happens in the church as a whole? Now I am talking about the church in general…Christ’s body…give time to answer. Do you know that this whole breakup of the followers of The Way began back in Paul’s time? Listen to what he describes in 1 Corinthians 3:1-9…I am reading from the NLT Bible:
1 Corinthians 3:1-9New Living Translation (NLT)
Paul and Apollos, Servants of Christ
3 Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. 2 I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, 3 for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? 4 When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?
5 After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. 6 I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. 9 For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.
They were fighting over who was following the “true Way” but they got it all wrong. They were not following what Christ began in Acts. They were following what their leader was teaching. How do I know this? They were fighting. If they were all following what Jesus did there would be no fighting at all. It was when they began to follow their rules that the problem began… and still exists… Paul called them immature in the faith…how are you and I being immature in the faith…would Paul admonish you and I in the same way?
You know…I made a mistake about when division began. It began in Jesus’ day…with His own disciples. They were all upset and wanted to stop those people who were doing good but were not part of their “group”. We are all one body of Christ. It is the denominational things that get in the way. We are all here to fulfill our purpose as Christ has called us not as man has called us. Which is pretty much what Jesus told His disciples…
What causes division in the church…the different parts of Christ’s body? Give time to answer… Ok… Now the hard question…what about our church…is there division and why? I told you this is was going to be a hard question…give time to answer…
In 1 Corinthians 1:10-13a, Paul begins his first letter to the church in Corinth… yup, more than 1 letter…addresses the fighting within the church itself. He talks about what happens when we begin to fight amongst ourselves. Listen to what Paul has to say on the subject…
1 Corinthians 1:10-13a Living Bible (TLB)
“10 But, dear brothers, I beg you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so that there won’t be splits in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 11 For some of those who live at Chloe’s house have told me of your arguments and quarrels, dear brothers. 12 Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul”; and others say that they are for Apollos or for Peter; and some that they alone are the true followers of Christ. 13 And so, in effect, you have broken Christ into many pieces.”
The scripture is clear. We break Christ into pieces… How does that make you feel? I know how it makes me feel. I am just as guilty as the next…those times I may think that a denomination is wrong in how they do things. I am a firm believer of “The Way” … either you follow Christ or you don’t…that simple. But those times when I get angry about what others do and how they divide instead if work together…am I judging or lamenting that we don’t get along?
We need to bring our ailments…our division…into the light of Christ to be healed. Ok…visual time…you have this rock here…let’s call it humanity…and this other rock we will call God. Now humanity and God were once together but because of the sin of disobedience they were separated. We needed a bridge …(bring out the long rock)…so that the gap could be filled. That bridge is Jesus (put a rock on top of the bridge). Now there is a renewed relationship with God and humanity. The same principle works with God’s people. When we have division, we need to bring it to the light of Christ and in and through Christ the relationship can be healed and renewed…I may be making it sound simple but to me it really is that simple…if we all want to play along that is…
Beloved children of the Most High God. Jesus is calling us out of our tombs and in to His Glorious Light and be healed of our ailments. 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 healing what ails us, personally and collectively? What if hope came through our door? Would she see a church divided or a church bonded in love? I ask that we prayerfully come together…as family…to heal what ails us. I passionately want us to be that church that Hope would hear about the goodness of God and feel the oneness of our church so that she too can receive the goodness and grace and be healed and loved. Maybe…just maybe…she will come through our doors. The question is…are we willing to let her in…?