Has anyone else discovered TED.talks? I stumbled across it whilst researching for this message; basically it is video clips from some of the world’s most inspiring speakers. Sometimes you come across gems like this without ever realising what an impact it may have. I think TED is probably one of them for me.
I came across this quote, Brené Brown “Maybe stories are just data with a soul.” The more I thought about that, the more I understood what it means, it is easy today to get information overload, we just have to sit in front of a computer and in seconds we are swamped with data (information). But that’s all it is, just information.
On the other hand, when we hear a story told by a real person (ha! Wouldn’t that sound strange to our Grandparents if they heard that?) The story takes on a life; the teller is imparting in some measure a part of themselves. So it would be wrong to dismiss it or not really listen, how often do we do that?
In a culture that often seems to be so much about travel or busyness where we may not be in any one place long enough to invest ourselves in other people or the community there either physically and emotionally, where we may feel ourselves more involved in the lives of Facebook friends than our actual neighbours, what does “work for the welfare of the city where God has placed you” look like for us? What are you called to affirm today? What are you called to challenge? What advice are you called to give?
These are pretty meaty questions and only you can answer them, if we find ourselves wanting in our answers how much harder would it be to answer as a group?
In john 8:7 Jesus said when they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (I will come back to this shortly)
Today is the 21st day after Pentecost It is also the second Sunday in “A Season of Saints.” This observance from World Communion Sunday through All Saints Day, although unlike other denominations we in the Uniting church do not seem to place a lot of emphasis on saints. So what is a saint? In Wikipedia a saint is described as one who has been recognized for having an exceptional degree of holiness, sanctity, and virtue. While the English term “saint” originated in Christianity, historians of religion now use the term “in a more general way to refer to the state of special holiness that many religions attribute to certain people,
Saints, broadly speaking, are those who follow Jesus Christ and live their lives according to his teaching. For example one such Saint is:
Hiram Rhodes Revels
Born as one of less than a total of 800 “free blacks” in Mississippi, Hiram Rhodes Revels’ life epitomizes working for the good of the whole people where he finds himself placed. Whether preaching to congregations of slaves and free blacks as an AME minister centered in Baltimore but traveling widely across the South and Midwest, or organizing regiments and serving as a chaplain in the Union Army in the 1860s, or as an alderman, state legislator, senator, or later educator or Methodist Episcopal pastor after the war, Revels’ whole life was about working for the welfare of the people—all the people– among whom he found himself. His Methodism had taught him a significant sign and effect of the gospel was the common good, whatever that may be where one finds oneself—and even if it involves doing good toward those rightly perceived to be enemies to one’s own people or interests.
A man that is guided by the Spirit,” says St. Maruthas, author of these acts, “fears not death: he loves God, and goes to him with an incredible ardour; but he, who lives according to the desires of the flesh, trembles, and is in despair at its approach: he loves the world, and it is with grief that he leaves it.”
Who do you consider a saint? Mother Teresa springs to mind, Sister Mary MacKillop is another, also there is Saint Christopher or Saint Francis of Assisi and many others, and these are all saints recognised by the Catholic Church and the wider community.
Broadly speaking though, saints are those who follow Jesus Christ and live their lives according to his teaching.
So I ask, do we have Saints in our community? In our Church? At Home? If we are to believe, that as believers in Jesus Christ the son of God who was sent to earth, born and died so that we will have eternal life. Then indeed we are Saints.
And now this is the spot where I came to a screeching halt, because to tell you the truth I feel very unsaint like. Yes I believe, I go to church I confess my sins I try to show compassion and I do care for those in my community, but a Saint. HUH!
But we don’t need to despair because in Isaiah 40: 1-5 it says
Comfort for God’s People
1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. 3 A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
And in Colossians 1: 13-14 it says 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Once again I quote from TEDtalks. Look into your own heart, discover what it is that gives you pain and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else.”” — Karen Armstrong.
What wise words indeed.
Look to God for comfort, wisdom and courage. To do this we sometimes have to make ourselves vulnerable, not an easy thing to do, can you remember the last time you made yourself vulnerable so that you could get close to someone and help them? — Brené Brown whom I spoke of earlier said this “Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.”
Am I willing to make myself vulnerable so I may be better able to get closer to people to do Gods work? Are you? Are we as a congregation?
Let us pray.
Through Christ in us
you have broken every chain,
loosed every bond
and freed us to proclaim your word boldly.
Send us now, co-workers to tend your field
and gather your harvest.
All glory is yours, now and ever. Amen.
Go forth grateful for all that God has done for you.
Love God and love your neighbor,
even those who are outcast
and all who keep their distance
because they have been so long excluded.
Seek the welfare of this community,
that in its welfare you will find your welfare.
In the name of the father, son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Quotes from Brené Brownand and Karen Armstrong, from TEDtalks.com
Notes taken from lectionary planning GBOD.