It has been along time since I have written. I have been busy going to school learning to be a Life Coach through the Deep Coaching Institute which I graduated from at the end of February 2017. I have been learning … Continue reading
Exploring the Word: Sermon – January 25, 2015
By Roland Legge
3rd Sunday after Epiphany (Year B)
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Are you ready for a revolution? If you are not you might want to reconsider if you want to be a follower of God and Jesus. God and Jesus are continually trying to bring on a revolution of love, peace and justice. They are always surprising us and encouraging us to walk a different path.
Back in the days of Jonah, God was just as busy trying to transform the world. God chose Jonah to be part of that plan. Now Jonah seems like an ordinary person. He is no king or prince. Jonah is not unlike us, fearful of living and speaking prophetically and often too lazy to try. So it is no surprise that Jonah couldn’t be bothered to go Nineveh. But God somehow got him there. The story goes on to tell us that Jonah was first eaten by a fish when he was trying to run away and then burped out near Nineveh. Yes, God does go to great lengths to get our attention and then cooperation. Most importantly, God wants us, like Jonah, to be part of this transformation of love.
So Jonah gets to Nineveh and reluctantly does the work of God. He is just barely into the city proclaiming the sinfulness of the Ninevites that they begin to repent. They were so convincing that our surprising God heard them and forgave them. But like lots of us Jonah was not so forgiving and became enraged when God so quickly forgave them of their sins. Jonah had become so full of hate that he was not so ready to forgive. Then God let Jonah sulk under a bush until he knew that God was not going to change her mind again. You see God is always surprising us. Doing the things we least expect. How is God surprising you? Who are you meant to forgive? Who are you meant to challenge? Who is God calling you to see in a new light?
When God breaks through our armor, often during the traumatic times of our life, then we become open to living out God’s revolutionary plan. If we choose to be part of God’s plan , then we can become part of this holy work.
In the Gospel according to Mark at the beginning of Jesus’ revolutionary ministry he calls upon two men, Simon and Andrew the fishermen. They were both courageous men! It is quite likely that Simon and Andrew came from upper middle class families. They not only had to be willing to give up family and friends but a comfortable standard of living. They were willing to risk their lives. They followed their hearts rather than over analyzing their options which would have probably prevented them from living out their calling. They chose a very different life from what they had been groomed to be. They chose to be counter cultural.
It is Jesus who brings out the revolutionary love in others such as in Simon and Andrew. It happens in the surprising ways that Jesus goes about building God’s revolution. Most revolutionaries would build a strong army. But Jesus goes about inviting ordinary but extraordinary people into his movement. These are a group of untrained, uneducated, fishermen, and tax collectors stumbling along after Jesus.
(Pulpit Resource Vol. 34, No. 1 Year B January, February, March 2006 by William Willimon Published by Logos Productions Inver Grove Heights MN P.G. 18)
Are you surprised?
When we can feel the Spirit of God, which is always accessible to us, we see and feel the world in a different way. When we see injustice, we see a way to liberation. When we see poverty, we not only ask why, we seek the path out of poverty. When we experience neglect for Mother Earth, we grieve, but make choices that will begin to heal the earth. When we are told that we can’t make the world a healthier and more loving place we ignore the sentiment and get on with the revolution.
Each of us has done something to further the revolution. Here is one story of a teacher in Los Angeles as told in Awaken The Art of Imaginative Preaching. Does this story bring any people to mind for you?
Rafe Esquith is a teacher in inner-city Los Angeles, California who sees culturally sanctioned disparity between resources and opportunities available to children of wealthy parents and children of parents with lesser means. He also recognizes that there is a misconception about poor children not caring about school. His way of teaching, his whole way of living, which for years included working four jobs to pay for all of his classroom extras, is countercultural. Esquith draws his students to class hours early and keeps them in school hours after the closing bell, and seven days a week. They clamor to reach and perform Shakespeare, to do challenging mental math problems during breaks in class, and to spend recess learning intricate guitar concertos. This inspired and inspiring teacher has swept up generations of children into his pro-learning movement, many of whom have grown up to return the support they received from him. Other schools have tried to lure Esquith away with much larger paychecks and easier settings but he holds his ground. Viva la revolution!
Awaken the Art of Imaginative Preaching Advent Epiphany 2005-2006 by Janet Norman and Paul Turley Published by Logos Production Inc Inver Grove Heights MN P.G. 37
I hope the story Esquith brings to mind people in our own community. We do have revolutionaries/healers right in our own midst. We have people who visit our many shut-ins. We have people who give of their time to community groups who provide great opportunities for our residents of all ages. We have teachers, nurses and many others who go the extra mile to care for those they serve.
Our society tells us the poor, the elders, the disabled, the mentally ill are not worth our time. Thankfully we have people who the see the value in each person just like Jesus did. Even coming to church today is counter cultural. It goes against our society that says that life has everything to do with consumption. Thus in some way we are all revolutionaries of Jesus. What do you think of that?
Sermon – January 18 2015
2nd Sunday after Epiphany
By Roland Legge
1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20) Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 John 1:43-51
God calls the people we least expect! Can you imagine being Samuel waking up in the night to this voice calling his name? Now there is old Eli who recognizes this voice as that of God. This must have been challenging for Eli because why would God talk to Samuel rather than him. The miracle is that Eli was able to humble himself by encouraging Samuel to answer.
Then there is Nathaniel with his poor opinion of people from Nazareth. So what was it that convinced him that Jesus was worth paying attention to even though he came from the backwaters called Nazareth?
When you think of it Paul was also a very unlikely follower of Jesus because at one point in his life he was one of Christianity’s greatest enemies. He did everything he could to make life difficult for the Christians. Then one day on the Damascus Road he has a radical turn around and becomes a follower and proselytizer for Jesus.
I think we can blame all these conversions on the Holy Spirit! These people had their lives totally turned around. They were all able to feel the presence of God in their physical and spiritual selves in such a powerful way they could not continue to live in their old ways of fear and greed. How has your life been turned around?
I want to focus on the Epistle because it talks of what for me is so important. Paul was calling on his people to use their bodies for the transformation of the world. He calls on his followers to treat their own bodies with respect and dignity and do the same to others. In essence Paul was describing how God becomes incarnate in each of us every day. How God loves to live in every cell of our bodies. Did you know that Christianity is one of the few religions that believes that God became incarnate in a human being? I go even further and say that God seeks to become one of us each day. This is not just a spiritual concept! It is about all of us especially our physical bodies.
Most of us have grown up in the Church that has not been comfortable with our human bodies. We, that is the Church and Society, have come up with all sorts of rules, taboos and destructive theology that has divided us up into two beings a that we are intended to treat our bodies as temples. Our bodies were created in the image of God. In the book of Genesis we are reminded that God was pleased with what God had created.
How do you feel about your own body? No one is perfect! No one has a perfect body because each body is unique. I have struggled with my body image for years. I am certainly not the image of stereotypical strong man. I have too often feared my own body. I keep worrying about what could go wrong. But if you think about it our bodies are amazing miracles. It is amazing that our bodies work well most of the time and especially when we are taking care of them. It is amazing how often, other parts of the body, will make up for a part that is not working well. We are truly blessed.
I believe Jesus came into the world to help us live fully in our human physical life here on planet earth. I don’t think Jesus was concerned about the afterlife. He wants us to live the best we can during our earthly life. He wants us to use our bodies for the building up of the Kindom of God. He wants us to enjoy the incredible gift of being blessed with a human body that allows us to fully experience the world through sight, smell, touch and thought.
Also I believe that the Spirit desires us to enjoy being sexual beings. Meaning thus that God intends for us to experience the world and each other through our bodies. To remain being fully human we need gentle touch to remind us that we are part of something much greater. Then when we give ourselves fully to another person it becomes a sacred act that radiates the love of God. I appreciate what Rohr says about the Catholic Theological Society’s 1979 Study on Human Sexuality.
The Catholic Theological Society’s 1979 Study Human Sexuality summarized it rather well when stated that our sexual action must aim to be “self-liberating, other-enriching, honest, faithful, socially responsible, life-serving, and joyous.” That is certainly the task and journey of a lifetime, but it is no more or less than what Jesus said when he taught the greatest commandment of love of God and love of neighbour. The two loves “resemble” (Matthews 22:39) one another. They are each the school of the other. We will learn how to be properly sexual as we understand the properly passionate relationship that God has with us. And we will learn to be properly spiritual as we come to understand the true character of human longing and affection.
When we can openly talk about sexuality in church we will have come a long way.
I hope we can learn to value our bodies more. I hope we will stop trying to separate our personhood in to the physical and spiritual. We are all interconnected. Each of us are a weaving together of all our physical and spiritual qualities. They cannot be separated!
I invite you this week to intentionally be aware of your amazing body and how you feel blessed to live in it. What are you thankful for?
When we feel so blessed by our bodies we cannot help but want to take better care of ourselves and to encourage others to do the same with their own bodies. This all must happen to heal the world.