May 21, 2017
Stetson Memorial UMC
“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”
Adapted from Marcia McPhee’
“On the Mend” Sermon Series
Proverbs 16:18-19; Philippians 2:1-4; James 4:6-10
“Pride Cometh Before…”
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 30-37. 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 their way to Joy’s house, they began to talk with one another. This is really the first time they had since they met and they were both nervous, not wanting to offend the other. “So, Hope, where do you come from?” Joy asked. “Oh, from here, there and everywhere. We never settle into one place when I was a kid. Always moving around, never knowing where we would wind up next.” Hope answered. “Oh, that sounds like so much fun. My family is very rich and we always had to make plans when we went places. We never just went and just moved like you did. We went to places like Spain, Rome, China, we even went on a safari in Africa… It was fun but I think what you got to do was more adventurous.” Joy explained. “You must have enjoyed it very much.” “Not really” Hope explained, “We moved because my dad couldn’t hold a job so we had to keep moving. We would lose our home and had to find a new one when my dad got a new job.” “Oh wow, too bad.” Joy went on, “I had the perfect life, so to speak, I got to go anywhere and do anything I wanted to do. We always had a beautiful home and never went without eating like some people do… How about church? Do you go to church?” Joy asked. “Well I haven’t found a place yet that accepts…well me for me…” Hope answered.
Hope was starting to worry about her new-found friend. She seemed to be talking a lot about herself and how perfect her life was. But, Hope decided not to judge her friend…she had been on the wrong side of that equation too many times. Joy continued “Well you haven’t tried my church. It is perfect. We accept everyone. We have many ministries that reach out to those people on the street. We feed the hungry and clothe the naked. We have 3 services on Sunday, 1 on Wednesday, a prayer meeting on Thursday and…”
Hope started to walk away… “where are you going” Joy asked. “Away from you” Hope answered, “You are too “perfect” for me. For the past 30 minutes, all I have heard about is what you have done and where you have been, how perfect your church is and all those “people” you reach out to on the streets… Guess what, I am one of those people and I think you talk a good talk but you are not walking the walk. You think that you do soooo much but what I need is someone who cares about me not for me…I can care for myself thank you very much.” Joy was appalled, “What do you mean all I do is talk about myself. I am very proud of who I am and my church and what we do. There is nothing wrong with that.” Joy said through tearful eyes. “Maybe you are a little too proud. So proud that you don’t even see the ones you claim you are trying to help. Maybe if you thought about where your gifts come from, where your security comes from…your real security and gifts come from…maybe you might just think and see differently…” Hope turned and continued to walk away…
Good morning. This morning I want us to continue to be interactive with each other as we have been. It has been wonderful the past few weeks sharing as we have with teach other… 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 Joy and what she was proud of. It is not bad to take pride in things but when you lose sight of where it all comes from we can tend to be “pride-full”.
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. We need to give our whole life over to Christ…everything that 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 hold of the land. If we don’t, then why do we even call ourselves Christ followers if we can’t follow His example in the world because of what is ailing us? If we are to live our lives as Resurrection people we need to act as if we have risen from the grave of the world around us. All too often we are stuck in the tomb with our comfortable “death cloths” …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… 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. 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. Jesus us is calling us to be “open” …our eyes our ears, our hearts, our hands…to those around us who may feel closed off from others.
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…
Another thing that at times keeps us from being the light we are called to be is the sickness of “pride”. Pride can cause us to do a lot of crazy things…even making ourselves lord of others… We at times can think that…well to coin a phrase…our “poop don’t stink.” Being proud is not really a bad thing…we should take pride in what we do. What are you proud of in your life? Give time to answer. I am proud of my daughters but do I believe they are perfect and above reproach? No, we are all broken and imperfect. I am proud of how God has made them who they are and that I got the chance to help God, with His leading, bring these girls up… I give God the praise for it all.
In the Mark scripture, we hear the problem of pride. The disciples were arguing over who was the greatest of them. Jesus waste no time in correcting them on their emphasis on self. He brought in a child…pretty lowly…nothing special…children were seen and not really heard back then. The farther was the one who spoke for the whole family. So why do you think He chose a child? Give time to answer… A child is the last rung on the ladder. Pride really got in their way and Jesus had to make sure they understood the ways of heaven verses the ways of man.
You can see pride…the sickness of pride that is…just about everywhere you look these days. My question is this, do you see pride in the church? In other words, do you think it has a problem with pride and why? Give time to answer… Ok…how about the church here…our church…do you think it has a problem of pride…? Give time to answer… How about the people within…? Give time to answer.
What does god say about pride?
ü Proverbs 16:18-19-18 Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall.19 Better poor and humble than proud and rich.
ü Philippians 2:1-4-Is there any such thing as Christians cheering each other up? Do you love me enough to want to help me? Does it mean anything to you that we are brothers in the Lord, sharing the same Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic at all? 2 Then make me truly happy by loving each other and agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, working together with one heart and mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. 4 Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.
ü James 4:6-10-6 But he gives us more and more strength to stand against all such evil longings. As the Scripture says, God gives strength to the humble but sets himself against the proud and haughty.
7 So give yourselves humbly to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 And when you draw close to God, God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and let your hearts be filled with God alone to make them pure and true to him. 9 Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done. Let there be sorrow and sincere grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Then when you realize your worthlessness before the Lord, he will lift you up, encourage and help you.
God’s word is clear about pride and what it can lead to. What do you think the cure is for this sickness that ails us? Give time to answer…
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 healing what ails us, personally and collectively? What if hope came through our door? Would we boast about our accomplishments of lift up God’s name and what He has done? I ask that we prayerfully come together…as family…to heal what ails us. Let us become that group…that people…that the Hope would hear about the goodness of God and what He blesses us with 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…?