Sermon Summaries

Shake it Off? Grace? Hellfire?

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Our texts this week comes from Luke 10.

Jesus sends 70 disciples, in set of two, to continue the ministry of John the Baptist. [He sends them] to literally prepare Christ’s way to Jerusalem through Samaritan land, now the Samaritans and Jews were known for their contentious relationships and Jesus tells them ‘do not take any of your resources with you, depend upon the goodwill of these Samaritans. [And] When a town accepts you, stay there, receive what they offer, do ministry, heal their sick and exercise demons. But if they reject you, simply wipe the dust of their town off of your feet in protest and proclaim that the kingdom of God has come near’.

This, perhaps, echoes two weeks ago, where Jesus (himself) is rejected by Samaritans and John and James questions ‘Lord, do you want us to command hellfire from heaven to come down upon them’.

I have had many questions in my mind this week. Questions about who are we called to be? What is our calling? How do we proclaim the Word of God in that? And how do we handle rejection or opposition to that calling or that proclaimed Word?

And then my friend shared an experience this past week on Facebook. She is a pastor in Sacramento and I asked her permission to share it. I am going to read it from her words directly.

“Two men and a sweet little girl just came to my door to invite me to Verity Baptist Church. (The one from the news where the pastor preached that he applauded the deaths of 49 innocent people and lamented that more didn’t die is just a couple of miles away).”

“I told them that we were praying that they would learn about grace. They told me women shouldn’t be pastors as they walked away.”

“Seriously I feel like Hate just knocked on my door. I feel violated. – I had actually been expecting a friend.”

“I went to get the mail and had a slightly more productive conversation with them… they are so immersed in hate it is sad and disgusting.”

“Just to be clear – the idea that they don’t think women should be pastors was not the part that bothered me. I really don’t care.”

“What infuriates me is their smug pastor preaching that he is glad that “pedophiles” died in Orlando and wished more has died… and say that that is God’s Word. He is twisting, and perverting the Gospel and it may be the only thing that others may know of Christianity.”

“when hundreds of people protested the pastor thanked them for the publicity. These people who came to my door agree with everything their pastor said (I asked).”

This is a real in this time, in this place moment where her call and how she proclaims God’s Word of love and grace through it was rejected and opposed literally by someone knocking on her door. She said that because she was expecting a friend that, perhaps, she wasn’t at her best. But her ‘not at her best’ is probably better than what my best would have been.

How we all answer the question(s) of how we understand our call, and who we are called to be, and how we proclaim God’s Word in that will differ. [Because] We have different gifts and talents and different life experiences and journeys.

The question is when we have a call and have proclaimed a Word in it that has been tested and tried, affirmed and re-affirmed, how do we deal with opposition? Do we with grace tell them that we hope and pray they will learn about grace? Do we take the example of Christ and wipe the dirt from their town off of our feet in protest and yet still proclaim that God’s kingdom has come near? Or like John and James do we order hellfire down from heaven to consume the other?

I pray that as individuals, a community, and the world that we ask these questions and further that we ask for God’s guidance in how to do it. That is my prayer. Amen.

Scripture was Luke 10: 1-11, 16-20.
Originally preached on 03 July 2016.

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