April 30, 2017
Stetson Memorial UMC
“Mending Fences-Healing the Heart…”
“A Season of Healing”
Adapted from Marcia McPhee’
“On the Mend” Sermon Series
Mark 5:1-8;14-15; 21-23
“Why Did I Say…”
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 5, verses 1-8;14-15; 21-23. Listen to the word of God from His love letter to His beloved, you and I…
(Read Scripture from the Good News Bible)
She sat and listened to all that was being said. She thought to herself “Why did I even ask? All I wanted was a little direction for my life and now…this. I knew I should have just kept my mouth shut.” She didn’t want to be rude and leave but it was getting to be a little too much for her. Finally, when they were done, she smiled and said, “it still doesn’t make sense. I am not sure of this really is a place…the place…for me…” got up and left…and never to returned.
They all thought to themselves how rude this girl was. “We were only trying to help. Besides, she asked what our opinion was. She seemed to want to know things that really should concern her. She’s just one of those “trouble makers” who want to “change the world”.” They were dumbfounded…how could this person disrespect them. They were the ones who had the answers to all her questions. They were older and so much wiser than she was. Their opinion…their wisdom…was wasted on the younger generation. If they aren’t going to listen, why do they ask? Why do they have to make life so complicated for everyone else…
Earlier that evening, this girl (we will call her Hope) had gone to the group she had always gone to. It was just what she did. Hope had these questions in her mind from day one about the group but she was too afraid to ask. On this night, she decided to ask those questions that burned within her.
“Why do you only let just a few in? Why do think the way you do? Why is it that you do what you do? Well what if we…?” she asked as she poured out her heart to them. “You are so young, you wouldn’t understand why we do what we do. We have been this way since the beginning. We are an elite group and you need to understand…we don’t want “rabble rouser” coming in…you never know what “they” will do. We have tried before and well let’s just say that it didn’t go well for them…” as they laughed with almost a delight… “Are you one of those kinds of people or are you one of our kind of people”? This is the point that she got up and left…this rude little girl called Hope…
Good morning. This morning I want us 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 fact that she left with her questions still not addressed. All she was given was pretty much data…
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. 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 want to come out first being seen naked…leaving those things behind that binds us…and put on the robe of righteousness that we receive in and through Christ.
As I stated last week, 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. We will put ourselves in front of Jesus where we can be healed. 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.
So, to begin with one word…intentions…what are our intentions in life?
Definition: purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct. In Short…why do we do what we do…why do we say what we say…why do we act as we act. Let’s try to figure out what this “group” of people from the story may be all about…
Were they inclusive or exclusive? Give time to answer… What do you think that their underlying factor…their motivation was? Again, time to answer…
Jesus was presented with the whole intentions thing a lot in his ministry and daily life. When Jesus started His ministry, He caused a lot of fear in the lives of the Pharisees. Jesus practiced “radical hospitality” when He took pity on others and loved them where they were. This shook the whole world, especially that of the Religious leaders. They we seen as wrong in their ways and they just couldn’t stand it or let it continue… So, they planned and executed their plan of getting rid of that outsider to their theology.
One of the instances was in the scripture I read this morning… Now the teachers of the law and Religious leaders lived and breathed their traditions. There were none better at that then they were and they enjoyed pointing that out. They wanted to show Jesus how He should act. They said that “His” disciples were not doing what was right…and of course they were what was right…right? What do you think their intentions were?
Well Jesus’ answer really did rock their world… As our president might say they were “wrong.” They were more concerned about what was on the outside…a showy faith…than the…real faith. They needed to get rid of this Jesus…He made them look bad…they feared that if He continued they would be seen as the frauds they really were…So they thought up and executed their plan to get rid of the thing…the one person…that caused them the most fear…Jesus… It is what is on the inside that God is concerned with…that is why we have this hope that no matter what our outward appearance shall be…race, gender, challenged, pierced, tattooed, sex, nationality, economically challenged… (fill in the blank)…God sees the inward appearance of a repentant heart…God sees the inward potential that can move mountains and bring Him glory…the kind of heart that not only brings Him glory but a smile to His face…
We as the body of Christ try to be inclusive…or at least I hope that we would be. Unfortunately, we can fall a little short of being that inclusive church…in other words…we are no Sandals vacation. There are many factors that make for an “exclusive group”…that needs to become inclusive:
- Underlying factor – why do we do what we do. Is there something in the history of the group that would cause them…cause us not to want other to be part of the group. What is the motivation? Is it not wanting “outsiders” …” those people” or is much more than that? Is it power and prestige that is being “threatened”?
- Trying to be help but not quite so helpful – There are times when we say the wrong thing unknowingly… We can only go from what we know.
- How about tradition – those “we have always done it this way”. It will shatter all we know if we break that tradition. We will also have to admit we are wrong.
- That leads into fear – sometimes it is things from our past, individually, and corporately, that causes us to fear…we don’t want (fill in the blank) to happen again. It can even be a displaced fear of… We are bombarded daily fear situations. Fear of the unknown. That whole shattering of tradition can lead to fear… The only fear is fear itself…
- And there are times that we really do have the best intentions and somehow, it all just goes off the rails… We don’t know what others bring to the table…we don’t know what others life experiences have been…but when we begin to hear them we begin to heal…
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 a lot of times we have good intentions, but what we need to ask ourselves why we act or say what we do. Is there some kind of underlying situation or belief that shouldn’t be there and if there is…how can we have conversation to heal ourselves and each other? Are we more like the Pharisees and their legalism or more like Jesus who loved and included all. As a side note…Jesus fulfilled the law so you and I can live under grace…grace received should be grace given. Also it is only because of His inclusiveness that we are grafted into the family of God…just sayin… I ask that we prayerfully come together…as family…to heal what ails us. Let us become that group that the Hope would be able to ask questions and receive thoughtful God inspired answers and if we are wrong in our beliefs may we admit it and heal beyond our vision. Maybe…just maybe…she will come through our doors. The question is…are we willing to let her in…?