The Educational Support Organization, Inc.

The Nourishing Place

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Sermon, February 28, 2021

Passionate Living

Mark 12: 28-31, Romans 12:11 

This morning I want us to think about our lives, the hours we have in each day.  How many hours in any day do you feel an absence of excitement, enthusiasm, passion?  When life gets difficult sometimes its easier to feel passionate about our troubles rather than our blessings.  Why is that? 

I think from the very earliest days of being human as a race of people, human beings lived with drama every moment of their lives  because life was filled with trauma!  Every day was hard.  Every day was a matter of survival.  Through the ages, as we became more civilized we did have days of some peace, times of relaxation, longer periods when we were not as fearful as we once were.  So we began to sense an absence of trauma and therefore drama, so we humans began to create our own drama...and sometimes that still involved trauma. 

I once was an avid Ole Miss football fan.  There were several professors, administrators, wealthy donors, and just regular citizens who sat together in the end zone at Vaughn-Hemingway Stadium.  If Ole Miss scored a touchdown all of us went wild.  These staid professionals in coats and ties,  expensively dressed women in high heels, governors and mayors, screamed for joy, jumped up and down, hugged strangers, and ran amok.  I participated and loved every minute of these experiences.  These were exciting times of great drama and enormous passion. We all submitted to our deepest emotions of being connected, sharing a moment of ecstasy.   We were called fans, real fans of Ole Miss football. 
 
Because we all feel a deep connection to our Lord, our Jesus, and we do come here together every week to share our delight, our love, our commitment, our exhilarating emotions, why don’t we act more passionately about these spiritual times?  If we acted with the kind of drama we exhibit at football games, we would not be called fans.  We would be called fanatics.  Yet, I personally feel we could stand to have a bit more enthusiasm in church.  Church should be an uplifting, encouraging time of togetherness.  We could sing louder with emotion.  Hug longer, when we can once again touch. Be exuberant about our God who rescues us, loves us, and keeps us within his embrace through all time.  Isn’t that awareness equally as important and thrilling as a football game? 

Sometimes I envy the Holy Rollers who do scream and dance and sing and pray with fervor.  In comparison to our staidness those spiritual experiences are extraordinary.  Here in this sanctuary, I love it when Linda Machi sings and the spirit moves her up and down the aisles...that is a God inspired emotion of joy and deep emotional gladness for our God and his way of living.   

So it seems to me in our community we can be passionate about sports, about politics, about movies, about parties, about any and everything but not God. Is there is some hidden message somewhere that tells us we must not be passionate about God?  Yet, Jesus himself said, “If you are going to follow me, you must do it with passion, with all your heart and mind and soul!”  We often feel timidly weak in our response to Jesus’  life changing good news! 

What has happened to us that we are shy about our relationship with God?  I know I may be criticized for saying this, but I think the institutional church with emphasis on sin, dogma, doctrine, conflicting rules and stories all have had a part in stifling our passion and our enthusiasm. We have become somber, almost sorrowful believers.  But there once was a difference.  Look at the disciples before there was a church or a church building.   People met outdoors, or in homes, or on the side of a river just to share exciting stories about Jesus… his love, his healing, his desire for all of us to know our kind and good God, and to be passionate about the way God loves us.  When we began to worship inside a building where God was limited by the height of the ceiling, where we couldn’t see the night sky, or the sun at dawn or evening, we moved away from seeing the world as God made it and began to limit our view of the world by how people in authority, not God, defined the world and manner of worship. 

We all need and enjoy heat in winter and air conditioning in this sanctuary in summer.  Those are gifts to make life better.  But the down side of this comfort is we sometimes seem to limit our love for God and all humans to what happens inside these four walls.  In truth, this time together each week should actually be a pep rally to encourage us to leave this sanctuary and take our passion, our compassion, our unlimited love, to people wherever we find them...in schools, in nursing homes, in jails, in our neighborhoods, in our clubs, and social gatherings.   

For people of faith, the one over riding single most important commandment for humans to fulfill is: Love God and love other people. Doing so kindles enthusiasm.  It lifts you out of the often drabness of life, and gives you a daily purpose for living.  As is written in the Bible translation entitled The  Message, ”Love the Lord your God with all your passion, all your prayer, all your intelligence, all your energy.”  

So how might we re-claim our enthusiasm and passion for our God who loves us passionately even though many of us don’t give him much time or preference. 

What can we do as a family of friends, as a church, as an outreach ministry to focus our daily rituals on service to God by serving one another and our community?  What can we as individuals do to lighten our load by loving more freely?  By laughing more often?  By knowing Jesus more intimately as a human being with a major purpose in life to teach us how to live fully and passionately every day, all day long?   What will you do to be more fully the joyous, alive person God created you to be?  

Let us think and pray on these issues and talk together about how, when, and where we might spread the good holy kindness of life? 

As you leave here today, take this verse from Romans 12:11 with you and let it guide you all through the week in what ever you do:  “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor! 

So let it be.