Mother Vivian Shelby – The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, June 25, 2023
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
So, there’s a lot in this gospel. And I was on vacation, so I have notes. You’ve never seen me do this before. Whoops, wrong paper. Just give me a sec. It is very complicated but it is absolutely beautiful. So, where do we start?
The Pharisees, that is the “they” that Jesus is talking about at the beginning. He’s teaching to his disciples. And he’s saying that even if the Pharisees call out the head of the household for using the power of Beelzebub, they will do the same to everyone else in the house. So, the Pharisees did this, remember? They said, “Well, how can he command the demons? He must be using Satan’s power.” So, he’s telling the disciples, this is your fate. If they are willing to do this to me, they’re going to say just as much badly about you. But he says, “Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid of the Pharisees and those who torment you. Because all will be revealed. Things covered will be uncovered.Things that are in the dark will be in the light. Things you hear in the dark are supposed to be spoken in the light. As a matter of fact,” he says, “not only that but go to the housetops and proclaim the truth.”
From the housetops. Now, that was the highest place in town. And your voice would carry. So, more people could hear you. Now, he doesn’t say go to the top. He says, go to the top of the house. So, we are supposed to say it in a place where everyone, all of our neighbors and townspeople will hear it. I’ll come back to that in a minute.
And then again, he says, “Have no fear. There are those that can kill the body but they can’t kill the soul.” They cannot take eternal life from the disciples. So, don’t be afraid of them. Be afraid of the one who can destroy your body and your soul and you lose your life.
And then he says, how much God loves us. Talks about sparrows. Now, sparrows were the cheapest, smallest bird in the market you could buy to eat meat. So, kind of the lowest of the low, the cheapest thing. But he says, even a sparrow doesn’t die without God acknowledging it. So, God loves the sparrow and he loves us so much. He knows every hair on our head. Every single one. So, he’s warning us about all these things but he’s saying, “God loves you.” God loves you.
And then again, our job is about being professing Jesus, professing the truth. That is what we are supposed to do. And the truth that God gives us. Not the truth we make up ourselves, to fill in a story so we stay comfortable. As a matter of fact, there’s not a lot of comfort here, And next he says, “Do not be mistaken. I did not come to bring peace. But the sword.” Now, in our context, in our world, or maybe it’s just me, but a sword brings up a very violent violent thing. That’s not what Jesusis talking about. He’s not bringing peace but division. Like a sword can divide something. A division because when we accept God, when we accept Jesus Christ as the son of God and the Holy Spirit, and we speak that truth that will be divisive. Think about, in that time, it was very divisive and all the other readings today speak to that. All of them, including the Psalm, that people were ridiculed, people were made fun of, people had violence brought against them. We in our culture, in our country, do not have to deal with that. We are very blessed to have the freedom of religion that we have and the protections that we have. So, just reread those readings and think, “Wow, that all is horrible stuff and they still proclaim the gospel.” They still chose it even when they knew they could be crucified, literally.
So, what does this say? To us today, sitting here with air conditioning.Thank God. We are comfortable, we are comfortable. We love each other. This is our church and for many of you, this has been your church for a very long time. But my question this morning is: does God call us to be comfortable? I don’t think so. “I came not to bring peace but the sword.” He knew. Jesus knew that it was going to get so bad that they were actually going to crucify him. He knew it. He willingly accepted it because it would save humanity.
So, this week, where are we in our comfort zone and not in our comfort zone? I just came back from a glorious week at Lake Fork. A vacation. It was beautiful. The lake, all the wildlife, the air conditioning. They had air conditioning up there. It was glorious. It was peaceful. It was just, you know, that refresh. Nothing wrong with that. But I knew I’m not ready to retire. I knew my place was here. I have to come home from vacation. Out of that comfort zone. To preach God’s Gospel. Because that’s what I’m called to do.
So, where in your life do you tend to gravitate to your comfort zone? And you don’t risk. You see something and maybe we don’t speak up. Cause we want to avoid conflict. We don’t know, maybe, we don’t know what to say. Or we don’t know how to interpret what someone has said. So step, even if it’s an inch over your comfort zone this week. Because God gives us those opportunities all the time. I’ve said this before. We are all that Jesus has. We’re it. If people are going to see God, we have to show them. We have to show them. Not just here, not just hoping people will see us as we walk into church and go, “Oh,there’s a Christian. Maybe I should go there.” No, we’re called to go out. We come here to worship God, to get fed, to learn, so that our life, the rest of the week, out in the world, shows people Jesus Christ.That’s the truth. This is not a Sunday theme.
So,think about it. If you’re in your house and you’re having coffee, maybe you’re having coffee with Jesus and you’re alone or in your comfort zone with your family and your dog maybe say, wow, maybe I could go down to “the Grizzly.” Have a cup of coffee. Maybe talk to somebody. Maybe meet somebody new. And have a conversation with them.That’s just an example. Every little thing that we do shows people who we are and who God is. It can be small. It’s like small little seeds that you plant for people. Because we love them as God’s people. It could be a smile. It could be a kind word. It could be calling your server at a restaurant by their name. It could be seeing someone crying in the park and going over to them and asking if you can comfort them. It’s not big “Mother Teresa” stuff. So, that’s what I want you to think about this week. Every morning when you wake up, I want you to say, first thing, “Thank you God for waking me up. What are we going to do today?” Then listen to him all day. In between the interruptions of life. And then when you go to bed at night, the very last thing before you drift off to sleep, say “Thank you,God for this day. And thank you for all the opportunities I had to do your work.” And just see how that changes your week. Amen.