Sermon Recording: Someone Who Understands (Mark 6.30-34)

Sermon Series pursuing peace 1110 x 624

This service took place in our fellowship hall due to an air conditioning problem in the sanctuary. For a recording of the entire service, including the sermon, go to our Facebook page.

Sermon Series: Pursuing Peace
Message 3 of 4: Someone Who Understands
Scripture: Mark 6:30-34
These are the notes from a message offered 9/30/18, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. I’ll be posting this series on Fridays in the coming weeks. I pray they empower and inspire you to be a peacemaker.

A farmer had some puppies he needed to sell.  He painted a sign advertising the 4 pups and set about nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down into the eyes of a little boy.

“Mister,” he said, “I want to buy one of your puppies.” “Well,” said the farmer, as he rubbed the sweat off the back of his neck, “These puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.” The boy dropped his head for a moment. Then reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer. “I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?”  “Sure,” said the farmer. And with that, he let out a whistle. “Here, Dolly!” he called.

Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur.  The little boy pressed his face against the chain link fence. His eyes danced with delight. As the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed something else stirring inside the doghouse.  Slowly another little ball appeared, this one noticeably smaller. Down the ramp, it slid. Then in a somewhat awkward manner, the little pup began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to catch up…

“I want that one,” the little boy said, pointing to the runt. The farmer knelt down at the boy’s side and said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you as these other dogs would.”

With that, the little boy stepped back from the fence, reached down, and began rolling up one leg of his trousers.  In doing so he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe.  Looking back up at the farmer, he said, “You see sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.” With tears in his eyes, the farmer reached down and picked up the little pup for the child.

We long for someone who understands. How many of us here

  • Have lost a job/been out of work
  • Have started over in a new town
  • Experienced the death of a parent
  • are cancer survivors or are going through treatment
  • have experienced a miscarriage
  • have been so excited about something you wanted to shout

It’s easier for us to understand when we’ve been through a similar experience. The beautiful thing is, even if we haven’t been in someone’s situation, we can try to understand. We can look below the surface of words and actions to what’s really driving those words and actions. We can empathize. Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another

Moving from a heart of war to a heart of peace first requires humility- admitting our brokenness, our wounds, the shards of sin in our heart. In humility, we admit our need for God’s help, healing, and forgiveness.

The next step is empathy. God’s healing and forgiveness give us eyes to see and hearts to understand.

  1. Eyes to see ourselves and others as bearers of common wounds that need healing, rather than as adversaries to be defeated or competitors to be outdone
  2. Eyes to see the hurt beneath others’ anger, rather than as aggressors meriting our retaliation
  3. The ability to approach those with whom we disagree as mutual explorers of the mystery of GOD
  4. The ability to consider every person as a beloved child of God with infinite worth and dignity, rather than as an object of our desire or correction or charity or a means to our ends
  5. Eyes to see “the other” through the eyes of Christ, rather than through the lenses of partisan politics, racial prejudices, socioeconomic class, gender, and national borders (Excerpted and adapted from How We See Others Matters by Bishop Kenneth L. Carder, retired.)

Mark 6:30-34 (NRSV)     
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had … how would you respond?

How Jesus responds – As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

Jesus could have been upset. These people were obstacles to their much-deserved rest. Instead, he looked below the surface to see their deep need. The why behind their actions. Jesus had compassion, empathy. He saw them and engaged them from a heart of peace.

After all, isn’t Jesus the ultimate expression of God’s empathy? God, the Creator of the Universe, Almighty, high and exalted. How can we related to this? So God comes in Jesus- the One who shows us God understands our pain, temptation, and needs. The One who shows us God understands loneliness, poverty, hunger, friends, betrayal, injustice, even death itself. This is why we place our trust in Jesus.

As followers of Jesus, as Christians, literally “little Christs,” we can empathize because God empathizes.

John 8:2-11 (NRSV)
2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5 Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now, what do you say?” 6 They said this to test him so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

The leaders approach Jesus and the woman with a heart of war. They want to trap Jesus and she is a means to an end. Some think Jesus knelt to the ground to write the sins of the crowd so they too would see themselves as sinners and empathize with the woman. What if Jesus was writing things they had in common as a means of helping the crowd empathize?

However they arrived at empathy, look at the results. No condemnation. Peace. The chance of a new life.

My friend Pru reminded me last week that being made in the image of God is what gives us our value, but it’s also what gives us our power. The power to empathize. The power to choose the ways of Jesus- Life, Hope, Peace

Romans 12:14-16a (NRSV)           
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.16 Live in harmony with one another; …

As followers of Jesus Christ, we’re called to foster peace in the midst of evil, controversy, and conflict.

  • We are honest about our feelings and our failings
  • We break the cycle of conflict, often with an act of generosity or kindness
    • the war stops with me
  • We have the power to choose how we respond and we call on the Holy Spirit to help us choose well
  • We look below the surface behaviors to imagine what might really be going on
    • What is driving and informing these words or actions?
  • We empathize
    • “Those people who are hardest to love, need love the most”
  • We see people as people
    • not obstacles, objects, not a means to an end, or projects
    • I see you, I value you because you are made in the image of God
  • We believe changing our words and actions can change the world
    • By the grace of God, we can have a heart of peace and live out of a heart of peace

Psalm 34:14, Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Mark and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Not Us and Them, Only Us- a prayer based on Matthew 15.21-28

us them

Based on Matthew 15:21-28, Jesus and the faithful Canaanite woman

They come from the east and west
From the high places and low
They come begging, “take pity on me son of David.”
They kneel desperate, “Lord help me. Lord have mercy.”

Our first response… Send them away
They are not of us
They are a nuisance, a distraction, an obstacle
Surely his healing and mercy aren’t for them

But look at their faces
Look at their faith
Look at their compassion for their little ones
Their hopes and dreams are the same as ours
Their needs are the same as ours
Their answer is the same as ours
Jesus

Lord give us faith to cling to everything you say
Everything you promise
Everything you are

Give us faith to see how your plan unfolds for all of us
Give us faith to trust there is enough
It’s not Us and Them
It’s only Us
You saving, healing, and loving Us

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Not us and them, only us © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

The 2016 TED Talk Experiment – Week 2

TED talk blog graphic 2
Week 2 choices were inspired by the 2015 TED recap The Year in Ideas.

Why Public Beheadings Get Millions of Views
Frances Larson
TED Global London, June 2015
The sense of anonymity and detachment cultivated by the internet buffer our empathy for those being murdered. In our watching, we become part of the theatre of evil and those performing the acts achieve their goal. How can I use this awareness to cultivate empathy, personal connection, and peacemaking?

The Price of Shame
Monica Lewinsky
TED 2015 Vancouver, March 2015
A thoughtful and moving discussion of the evolution of public shaming, especially the cost of cyber bullying. Ends with a word of hope and call to action to be an empathetic, encouraging, and peacemaking presence online.

This app knows how you feel – from the look on your face
Rana el Kaliouby
TED Women 2015, May 2015
A creative solution to the reality that technology often separates us. I was especially inspired by how many different people will benefit from this technology and the brave choice of the creators to share their work for the common good.

The Enchanting Music of Sign Language
Christine Sun Kim
TED Fellows Retreat 2015, August 2015
As a hearing person I had never considered the “commodity of sound”. How can I be more aware of those who have no voice and be an ally in them claiming and sharing their voices?

What Really Matters at the End of Life
BJ Miller
TED 2015, March 2015
A generous, vulnerable, and beautiful discussion about the little changes which make a huge difference in the experience of medical care and palliative care. “As long as we have our senses, even just one, we have at least the possibility of accessing what makes us feel human, connected.”

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I’m trying an experiment in 2016. Maybe you’d like to try it with me.

Here’s where I am
I’m tired of the spin. I’m tired of ideas, news, and entertainment really being one long sales pitch for profit or power.

I’m longing for creativity, curiosity, and inspiration. I’m in search of passionate people willing to speak to the truth and complexity of living with a heart of hope. I want to hear from authentic humans who are in the trenches working for the greater good.

I think I’ve found them in the TED community.

“TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On TED.com, we’re building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other, both online and at TED and TEDx events around the world, all year long.”

TED’s been around for 30 years. I’ve heard about them and even watched a couple of talks, but I’ve never spent any concentrated time mining the good stuff. So….

Here’s the plan
Watch 5 enthusiastic, inspiring TED Talk presenters a week for a year.
Apply and share the goodness.

Photo Quote: Romans 12:15

rejoice weep

Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for living in someone’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me unless there is peace and joy finally for you too. – Frederick Buechner, Beyond Words

This piece was created using PicMonkey, a free, online picture editor. It’s super easy to use and has lots of great fonts, filters and other editing goodies. Someone with limited artistic abilities (like me) can feel very accomplished very quickly. – Lisa <><

Reader’s Theatre: Feeding the 5000

loaves and fishReader’s Theater: Feeding of the 5000
Based on Matthew 14:13-21 (NIV)
Three speakers: NARRATOR, DISCIPLE, JESUS
Next to DISCIPLE is a small basket on the ground

NARRATOR
When Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been murdered; he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. The crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said,

DISCIPLE
This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.

JESUS
They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.

DISCIPLE
DISCIPLE picks up the small basket
We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish.

JESUS
Bring them here to me.
DISCIPLE hands JESUS the basket.

NARRATOR
Jesus directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.
JESUS raises the basket and mimes offering thanks

Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.
JESUS hands the basket back to DISCIPLE who then extends his/her hands offering it to the congregation. They both freeze for the remainder of the reading.

They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

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Adapted from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Reader’s Theater: Feeding of the 5000 adaptation © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.