Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Down a Different Road, Part II

Gonewago Covered Bridge by paynehollow
Gonewago Covered Bridge, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.
So what do we do with that? What do we do when we, because of race or family or citizenship are on the privileged side, on the side of power, on the side of might, on the side that oppresses, on the side that wages war?

Well, there aren’t a lot of easy answers, but we can learn one of them from this morning’s story by looking at what the magi did. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that they were warned in a dream not to go back the way they’d come, not to return to Herod, and so they went home by a different way. They listened, they listened to that spirit-side of their lives which is so very easy to tamper down, they listened to that voice of warning, even though it put them at considerable risk, they listened, and they went home by another road.

And that, of course, is our task and challenge as followers of Jesus, to listen to the spirit-side of our lives, and then to make sure that we’re heading off on the right road—which will be a different road than the one that we hear about on tv, or from the one traveled by most of the kids at school, or even, for many of us, from the one that our family members have chosen. This different road, or the Way, as the gospels call it, of Jesus will most likely lead us, as it did the magi, away from the palaces and the places of power, will lead us away from the constant need to shop and to accumulate, will lead us away from the constant chatter of media, will lead us away from the notion that we are self-sufficient, will lead us away from self-centered existences. The Way of Jesus will lead us, instead, toward those places and into those habits of sharing and neighborliness, of simplicity and solidarity, of kindness and mercy, of self-giving and dependence on the grace of others, of generosity and big-heartedness, of contemplation and careful attention to God’s voice.

The Way of Jesus is a different road, one that by the grace of God we have been traveling on as a community for a long time now.

We’ve been traveling the road that leads to generosity, as we’ve handed over , just this past week, without even blinking an eye, a check of $65,000 to Choices, Inc. to further their work with homeless women and children. Susan Taylor, who works with people and their money all the time, said to me, after we voted to give that money away, “I’ve never seen a group of people less attached to their money.”

We’ve been traveling the road that leads to hospitality, as we’ve successfully sponsored our first refugee family, as we’ve so beautifully prepared their apartment, as we’ve reached out to them in a number of ways.

We’ve been traveling the road the leads to neighborliness, as we’ve opened our doors to men and women who sleep on the streets, as we’ve opened our stage and our mic to hear the voices of people to whom no one else listens.

We’ve been traveling the road that leads to equality as we work, through CLOUT, to put a lid on the payday lenders, to get our Affordable Housing Trust Fund funded.

We’ve been traveling the road that leads to interdependence and community, as we’ve loved one another in a million different ways, lending support and covered dishes and listening ears and cars. I mention cars because growing up, in my family, there’s no way in a million years that a Weber would ever loan a car to someone else. I mean, it just wouldn’t be done. And I don’t think that’s all that unusual. But awhile back, when someone posted on the church blog that they needed a car for a few days, before I could reply, someone else did. Just like that.

Of course, I am listing roads that we are traveling on together, and some of us are taking off on some different roads, too, as individuals. Some of us are traveling on the road that leads to sobriety, some of us are traveling on the road that leads to contemplation, some of us are traveling on the road that leads to a radical disconnection from consumerism and dependence upon things. So many different roads to travel as we listen to our Spirit-side, as we follow after Jesus along the Way.

I am grateful for the witness of this community, and I am excited about where the Spirit will take us in this coming year. May there be fewer Rachels crying for their children in this world this year because of us. May there be more laughter, more justice, more creativity, more freedom in this world this year because of us. More stability, more homes, more generosity in this world this year because of us. Because of the road that by the grace of God we are choosing to travel.

Pastor Cindy's first sermon of the year


At 1/8/13, 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this since I missed last Sunday. Thanks for the inspiration Cindy and my beloved community. Bev


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