Love is the way, by Pastor Noel

July 8, 2018     Proper 9B    7 Pentecost

 

      If you know anything about our Presiding Bishop you know that his favorite word is love. (The Rt. Rev.) Michael Curry is known for saying, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God.”

      This is what Jesus came to show us, and what he embodied as he healed and taught and cared for people. Especially the people no one else was caring about.

      Curry isn’t talking about the kind of hearts and flowers love on a greeting card, but love that demonstrates what God is like.

      The early church was called “The Way” as it followed Jesus’ way of sharing God’s love.

      Today, Curry invites us to “follow Jesus to a loving, liberating, life-giving relationship with God, with each other, and with the earth.”

      No surprise then, that this active, working, love is the theme for our church’s General Convention. Every three years elected representatives from each diocese, and the bishops, gather to be together in prayer, and worship, and Bible study, and to discuss the present and future of the church.

      Our church’s governance was based on the representative, democratic, governance of the country. Our leaders are chosen or elected by the people, not appointed by higher-ups. This year GC79 is meeting in Austin, TX.

      What would it be like if we, and the church, truly embodied God’s love?

      It would be like heaven, wouldn’t it? And I’m thinking that’s not possible here on earth.

      Even the early church had squabbles and fights and all the human stuff that gets in the way of the divine stuff we are made of.

      Even when they were face to face with Jesus folks didn’t recognize who he was. They couldn’t understand what he was saying and doing. It didn’t sound or look like what they knew.

      Because his teaching and healing was different, it bothered them. It disturbed them, so they sent him away and went back to their usual ways.

      But to those who believed—new life! Like the two women in the gospel last Sunday. Like the  disciples—well, most of the time.

      It’s not easy following Jesus. It’s not just because no one can be a prophet in their hometown.       There is so much pressure to conform to the world’s culture instead of God’s culture. The world’s culture is not about caring for others. It is not about being “loving, liberating, and life-giving.”

      The world’s culture says that no one else cares, or matters, so it’s up to each of us to get what we want and don’t worry about anyone else.

      God’s culture says that God cares for each of us as if we were the only one. Imagine—being that beloved of God!

      Stop imagining—it’s true!

      The Presiding Bishop and GC have given us a roadmap to living a life as God’s beloved, and following Jesus.

      I think that you can start anywhere on this wheel, but starting with “turn” makes most sense.

      TURN—away from the world’s culture and to God’s culture. That’s what “repent” means

      We can’t do this well alone, so we LEARN about God’s way and Jesus—from Scripture, from church, and from each other.

      PRAY. No surprise there! For me, prayer is not about asking God for things. Prayer is being in touch with God through my thoughts, through enjoying companionship, through God’s creation.

      Yes, I lift up others to God and sometimes do ask for things. Mostly I just ask that I’ll be guided to whatever I can best be doing.

      WORSHIP.  Again, a no brainer. We are not in this life alone. We need each other. Worship and other church activities help us to be God’s family together. And Jesus sent the apostles out two by two so they’d have a companion and friend.

      BLESS.  When I pray over a meal I ask that God will bless us to be a blessing to others. That is what we were created to be and do.

  1. Take God with you somewhere. Across the street, into another room… Some are called to go across the country or around the world. Some stay home but keep God’s love alive and well.

      REST. This may be the hardest of all the ideas on the wheel! We are such a “doing” people! Sabbath time is restorative and strengthening.  It is a gift that God invites us to share with him.  Take a day or a few hours and see the difference it makes.         On July 5 I attended the evening offered by the Center for Reconciliation. We sat in the park across from the Cathedral and heard a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence, and of a speech by Frederick Douglass, “What is the 4th of July to a slave?”

      After the powerful presentations, there were questions and discussion.

      One woman asked how folks could go to church knowing how churches had mistreated/are mistreating people of color and others who are different.          

      Elon Cook, CFR Director, spoke of the work of the CFR. She said that most churches invite us to change our ways if they are not God’s ways, and then work to repair whatever we made wrong.  

      I thought of this wheel from GC. If we could all live this way of God’s love, what a different and peaceful world we would have.

      Whatever else comes out of GC—whatever ideas are debated, resolutions passed or not—this wheel of a life with God will be the most important.

      The Presiding Bishop says that we are “the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement.”

      May we keep that branch healthy and blooming. May we use this wheel to lead us into a deeper and richer journey with God. May everyone we meet know us to be “loving, liberating, life-giving” as we draw them into this journey of God’s love.

     (The “wheel” wouldn’t copy to here but you can find it on our facebook page and the website. Sorry!” 

     

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

The Rev. Noel Bailey

The Reverend Noel Bailey was born in Providence, is now back in RI for the 4th time, and hopes that this stay is longer than some of the others. She was ordained Priest at St. Michael's, Bristol, in May 1988, More details