This message includes a remembrance of the eight persons murdered in Atlanta a few days before. Xiaojie Tahn, Daoyou Feng, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Soon Chung Park, Yong Ae Yue, Delaina Yaun, Paul Andre Michels
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Prayer Based on Matthew 16 Based on Matthew 16:24-28
Give me courage to deny privilege
to lay down favor and safety
in order to take up the cross of opportunity and justice
Give me courage to deny consumerism
to lay down convenience and gratification
in order to take up the cross of sustainability and generosity
Give me courage to deny comfort
to lay down apathy and ease
in order to take up the cross of service and true love
Merciful Jesus, have mercy on me
Show me what to pick up and what to lay down
that I may lose and loose
in order to find and bind
all that is from you
For the next few months, I’m reading a chapter from the Gospels each day. This is part of the Summer in the Scriptures reading plan sponsored by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Click Here for the reading plan.
What extent are you willing to go to in order to belong?
Staying on the track team in Middle School even though I came to realize I hated running
Buying the latest- saving for a pair of Candie’s shoes in middle school and now the latest face cream
Yoyoing in weight since I was age 7
Staying silent in a conversation even though I disagreed or had a different idea to solve the problem
What extent are you willing to go to in order to belong?
Go into debt to keep up appearances
Keep a crazy busy schedule because busy people are wanted people
Or the kids have to be well rounded to get into college
Keep on going to the bar even though you know you have a drinking problem and shouldn’t be there but the bar where everybody knows your name
Stay in the abusive relationship
Hide who you really are or at least try to
The evil one loves to keep up distracted and divided
McBean is the real enemy of the Sneetches. The real villain. He delights in exploiting the Sneetches’ lack of trust in one another. He has a heart of war. The Sneetches are a means to his greedy end. McBean perpetuates and manipulates the waste of time, energy, and money in order to prove who is in and who is out when there’s really no such thing.
Jesus invites us to turn all this waste and destruction and division on its head. It is so important to Jesus that he dies for it.
Galatians 3:23-29 talks about clothing ourselves with Christ. Imagine all the stuff we put on in order to belong. How others label us. The things advertisers say will make us belong. Things we believe we have to do in order to belong. We put it all on and cover up who we really are.
Taken to an extreme, it’s the stars the Nazi’s made the Jews wear in order to label them other. It’s why Dr. Seuss picked stars for this story.
In Christ, we’re invited to take it all off. Take off all the things that hide us and label us because now we’ve put on Christ. Here we stand. This is how God now sees us and how we now see each other, through putting on Christ.
And so the question we asked at first- What extent are you willing to go to in order to belong – is turned on its head because Christ went to the extent of death on the cross so we could belong. Just as we are.
The new question is this: What extent are you willing to go to in order to ensure everyone knows belonging in Christ? So that you know it and the person sitting next to you and the person you see in the grocery store and the person at the bank and your neighbors and your kids know it. So the folks who are very very different from you know it.
General Conference: The decision-making body of the United Methodist Church, the General Conference, has gathered to discern God’s call regarding sexuality, inclusion, and the unity of the Body of Christ. Hold in your prayers the delegates, the whole church, the millions of people in the LGBTQ+ community who feel the heat of the spotlight, and the world that may learn something about God.
The following prayer is by Steve Garnaas Holmes. It contains some small adaptations.
God of love,
may we approach one another with the intent to love,
first and last,
and submit all our intentions to love.
May our intent be to heal, not to win,
to bless, not to curse,
to join, not to divide.
Help us do your will, not ours.
May we listen humbly, speak honestly and discern obediently.
Save us from justice without mercy,
righteousness without humility, victory without love.
As your word says,
If we do not have love we are nothing. —1 Corinthians 13.2
May we examine our own righteousness more vigorously than others’.
May we demonstrate your goodness, not our own.
May we honestly examine our norms and expectations,
our judgments of those who are different,
our exclusion of those who threaten our superiority
and our comfort.
May we be mindful of every person’s wounded need
to be loved, to be included, to be honored,
every person’s desperation to be good enough to belong.
May we remember your justice is love,
your command is mercy,
your judgment is grace.
God of love, give us wisdom that is love,
fill us with courage that is love,
empower us for victory that is love alone.
By your Spirit help us to do no harm,
to do all the good we can,
and to stay in love with you.
We pray in the love and the company of Jesus,
who served in love, who died for love,
and who rises in us with victorious love
and who clothes us with belonging and love
If you have never known a place of belonging, you can know it here in God’s family. This is where I found it. You can find it, too. Think about all the folks in your life searching for belonging, for someone who understands and listens, for unconditional love, searching for God. Remember them as well.