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The Nourishing Place
Sermon, August 9, 2020
Colossians 3: 12-17
Today’s reading is a powerful comment on who we are meant to be and how we are meant to live, for God, for ourselves, and for others.
Perhaps as you heard or read these words you began to realize how very social we as human beings are designed to be. By social the Bible doesn’t mean Facebook, parties, cliques...though those can sometimes be meaningful experiences. Rather, I think, this reading helps us understand just how important we are to each other. How we treat ourselves and others creates the world in which we live in today.
If you read the paper or watch certain news shows, you will recognize many, many people don’t seem to love others. They don’t seem to care about others or what belongs to others. They don’t seem concerned about protecting communities or the values most of us hold dear. And, in some cases, these same people don’t seem to care at all about our country. They seem set to disrupt life as we know it. Perhaps a bit of that is important. Perhaps we do need to sit back and ponder for awhile some ways that our country or community can be of more value and service to its people. Maybe there are better ways to increase meaningful education, better methods of helping the poor rise out of their poverty, and better opportunities for young people who are not college bound. But solutions must not involve violence!
The nation we live in is ruled by a government that should be for all people. What seems to happen here is that a few people, granted people we voted to put in place, make the decisions for all of us and often without listening to the people who most need the assistance.
For example, just how many high school students across the nation have been interviewed about their career and work desires, followed by practical solutions to help gratify their needs. Just how many really poor people have been interviewed regarding what their real needs are? How many of us ever participate in a poll to express what we as local people see as the greatest needs, and the best ways to have them met?
Do we ever get together in a symposium, or panel discussion, to talk about what is really important in a democracy and how we can be helpful beyond behaving ourselves and voting. How many of us take the time to write to our senators and representatives, or to our mayor and supervisor, or city council person. I think some of us may just want to complain, throw in the towel and say, what can I do?
These should be the bases of some of our conversations with each other, with our elected officials.
Regarding the vital question of what can I do and when, we can always seek guidance and wisdom from what we consider our holy document...the Bible. Whether Christian or not, there is some proven common sense suggestions for us throughout the Bible...like today’s scripture.
Let’s look at one Biblical hero for a minute. In his early life, Paul’s name was Saul. In his early life he was a sinner, a law breaker, a murder of innocent people, and a political activist that didn’t mind using violence to get his way. Saul abused and often killed Christians and their families. It has also been suggested that since he was a member of the Pharisaic Guard, perhaps he was the one who brutally stuck the sword in the side of Jesus while Jesus was hanging on the cross.
Needless to say, Saul was a vicious man and a cruel one. Yet, he had an experience that radically changed him. Changed him so much his name was changed from Saul to Paul.
After this experience, Paul discarded the wrong inside of him, the hatred, the anger, the prejudice, the arrogance, his position of power, and opted for a new self. He clothed himself in Christ Jesus, adopted the behaviors of a loving, caring, non-biased person, and became one of the most poerful teachers ever. He spread the good news of Christ and love more than any other person at that time. He tried to brign the world into harmony and peace through the reign of Christ Spirit in each of us.
Most of us are sinners...thankfully and hopefully not as extreme as Saul. Isn’t it time for us to look at the way we sin, at what we harbor inside of us, and make the tough decision to throw away all the past sins and our reasons for committing them?
We can do this. We have the power and the Godly wisdom to change ourselves. If we do change, discard the wrongs and hurts in us, we will have space within to build up a sense of goodness, a joy of living the good life, the pleasant sleep we gain by clothing ourselves in actions suggested by Jesus himself.
If we don’t change, if we don’t want to change, if we think it is too hard or too late, then we can keep on hurting the world and people around us whether we realize we are doing so or not. Scientists tell us every thought we have is like an electric current that rises into the ether around our globe...if it is negative energy it actually makes our environment heavier. If out thoughts are loving, caring, forgiving, then they make our environment lighter. Teilhard de Chardin called that area around our globe the Noosphere, the sphere of knowing. He taught “we are one, after all, you and I. Together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other.” How we treat each other continues to make us collaborators in creation.
If we are willing to change by swapping our negative feelings for positive ones, we can help lighten our environment, lighten our own spirits and that might bring more peace and harmony to this tiny corner of our community. I want to make this commitment: To start each day with a prayer to help me clothe myself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And to forgive all that needs to be forgiven. I want to be thankful and peaceful.
I want you do have these gifts as well. They come free of cost from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Our decisions regarding our thoughts and actions do impact and influence the world around us. Praise to our Holy God for creating kindness as a way for each of us to live.