2/17/2019 Sermon


Jim Hubert
Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church
February 17, 2019

 

Beatitudes

Luke 6: 17-26

Imagine: Hundreds, thousands, more and more. They’re going-where are they going? Can you see them? Can you hear them there’s a rumbling— of voices, and footsteps, and also, motors—of buses—school buses, cross-country tour buses, city buses. And there are taxis, subways, bicycles, cars and trucks. The crowd seems massive—a great crowd. Can you see them? Can you hear them? There’s talking, and laughing; you can hear. . . what is that? Singing? Yes they’re singing.

Clapping, shouting, moving, marching, progressing to their goal of changing, and maybe—being changed. This looks like one of those marches we hear about so often. You know, those gatherings, those rallies, those movements toward a greater world and a greater humanity we’ve seen on the news.

From back then in history to this moment in history, see those crowds, hear those voices, imagine the possibilities.

Maybe you’ve marched in a march to make progress in a movement for movement in our world. I know several here have. Maybe you’ve sung those songs, shouted those shouts, laughed with that laughter, cried those tears, held those hands, dreamed those dreams.

Luke talks about such a crowd—a large number of people dreaming dreams of something better, far better, following the one from Nazareth—“a great crowd of disciples and a great multitude of people from all around came with him.” Luke says that they had come to hear and be healed. They had come with hope, an ultimate kind of hope that this may be the chance of a lifetime to be changed, to be healed, to be freed from the trouble of unclean spirits, from the troubling of feeling unclean.

All were healed. Wow, not just one person or two, or 10 or 20, but this says power came out and healed all of them.

Gods loving, healing power is for all. God’s love is infinite, not bound by human limitations. God’s loving power is for everyone.

This loving power flowing, like the living water of the prophet and the psalmist, cannot be bound by troubling spirits, or diseases of the mind or body, or walls between us or structures in our minds or our hearts or our borders that exclude others and attempt to limit the welcome which flows throughout history into all of the world all of humanity. All are welcome.

As Amy reminded us recently with her arms open, God’s love is big enough for everyone. Everyone. All were healed—the Greek of this passage says every single one was healed. The root word is ‘THERAPON’ (the root of our modern word therapy). Therapon: meaning relieved, and recovery, and a re-orienting of mind/body/spirit. That fits perfectly with the mind/body/spirit connection which is the core of recovery communities for those troubled with addiction.

Every single one was relieved.

This is very challenging when we look around our world right now. There are countless needs for healing. Maybe for you personally—you hear this and wonder with me—can people of this world be healed/can the Earth be healed? Can I –be healed? If everyone was healed then, why isn’t everyone and everything healed now?

In 1978 my mother was diagnosed with ALS, and during that time I prayed for her healing as instructed by some very zealous prayer partners, with all the faith that I knew, and . . . she did not survive ALS. The amazing thing, though, the remarkable thing, is that healing power came—it came in the community of love gathering around our family at that time and place as a wall of support, and we received the limitless healing love. You may have such threads to the fabric of your story.

God’s love is infinite and not bound by human limitations.

We are blessed when we see all things through the eyes of healing and limitless love. We are happy when we can see beyond limitations to possibilities.

Jesus looked up at the disciples and said, blessed are you who are poor, hungry now, weeping and sobbing now, when people exclude you, insult and banish you, for this will all be reversed. Hungry will be fed, weeping will be laughing; being excluded will be transformed.

Really, Jesus? It will all be fixed? That was 2000 years ago, but where’s the fix now? Where’s the change?

Maybe there are clues right before our eyes.

Brandi Carlile is a woman who won 3 Grammy awards this week for album, song, and performance. She wrote a song called The Joke, which I believe captures some of that healing love. Part of the lyrics say:

Don’t ever let them steal your joy
And your gentle ways, to keep ’em from running wild. . .

We gotta dance with the devil on a river
To beat the stream

In an interview last week, she spoke of coming out at 14 years old. She said that she came out as a direct result of Ellen Degeneres coming out. As a result of Brandi Carlile’s going public with who she is, she never attended parties, and was never invited to dances.

Now as an adult, she said that in receiving such recognition for expressing and singing from her heart, she felt such love—she said

“To be embraced by such an enduring and loving community” as the music artist’s community “was the dance of a lifetime.”

Healing love. Blessed are you. Things will be reversed. Have hope—Welcome the flow of transformational, healing love.

We are blessed when we see all things through the eyes of God’s healing and limitless love.

When we focus on self-sufficiency, we can forget what matters most. We can forget what matters the most on this journey when we change our focus from healing and blessed transformation to a smaller view of things.

Woe –meaning grief, to us all when we believe our goal is simply to work harder, drive harder, make more, be more. These are not the woes of a thinly veiled threat that we’re going to hell if we don’t get this right, as though some cosmic chess game will keep us in a corner if we slip up.

The woe -the grief -is in forgetting—forgetting the living water, the source, the one who brings life in the first place.

We are enough, we are sufficient, and may be tempted to think that means we are all-sufficient rather than gratefully remembering the sufficient, living water of love which flows from blessing to healing, to transformation.

I find an interpretation of these verses from “The Message” to be helpful. Playing with the words of one verse, it says:

There may be trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself.  Your self will not satisfy you for long.

 We may flow between self-dependence and God-dependence; between my water and true living water, between self-nourishment and as the Psalmist “satisfy us with your love in the morning” kind of nourishment.

All who came to that place on the plain were healed, and Jesus went on to teach about the power of love, the unstoppable power of our creator’s spirit. Blessed are we when we let that in; woe or is it ‘WHOA’ (?)/distress/grief to us all when we are tempted to think we have to be in control, to manage it all.

This is a core truth of recovery from addiction. Moving from a focus on myself and my ability to control or fix or manage things, to an orientation of opening one’s self as completely as possible to the trust in a greater power can spark relief and healing, and possibilities for flowing into the world for others.

 

So think about the great crowd, the many who were healed in this story.

Where did they go after that day?

They went out into the world, to their homes, changed, blessed, hopefully remembering the source of their healing, and sharing that in the world.

We too can go out and work to change the world as we’ve been changed, guided back to what is calling our true selves to be in the world.

There are challenges.

All diseases as we know them are not currently healed or cured; Earth care teams and behavior are not fully in place everywhere; addiction is not eradicated; racism is still here.

NEVERTHELESS, we are part of a great crowd who embraces the loving, healing power of our creator, of Christ in our midst, who can go forward and be the active blessings in the world.

 In Louisville, and an overwhelming amount of times in this country, this world, perhaps a tiny glimmer of healing light is emerging. This week, I read that “The House Judiciary Committee late Wednesday voted . . . to advance legislation that requires background checks for all gun purchases and transfers.  This is the first legislation to make it out of legislative committee in decades.” In decades.

The article went on to say “This will likely be defeated in Senate, but is a positive sign that change for greater good could be coming.” Axiom online 2.14.19

A House committee passes new gun legislation. This all interrupts us and can make us feel a bit— or a lot –uncomfortable. Talking about this also can be challenging to our sense of peace and good will among all, especially at church on Sunday.

Nevertheless, shocking news in Parkland, Florida and too many other places, like Aurora, Illinois, interrupts our quiet daily flow, and ripples through our consciousness and to say STOP. WAIT. LISTEN.

I don’t want to inject a downer into joyous worship; I don’t want to present a dramatic historical event in worship simply to pick up in an isolated political or legislative cause.

However, this moment—these moments—have come to us. This moment, like many moments in this world—violence in general, out of control lives of people cocooned in addiction, unrelenting use of our earth simply for personal gain, defamation and non-welcoming of immigrants to QUOTE our UNQUOTE community/country, to name a few—this moment in history unfolded before our eyes and without our control.

And several— no, make that many—no, make that great crowds—are responding.

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the murder of 17 of our human family at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In a few minutes, after we sing our hearts out together, and pray again with each other, we can gather our voices using words written about standing up to gun violence.

Wherever you stand on a particular set of beliefs about this, in a few minutes, I invite you to stand here and join the chorus for this moment as Ezra leads us together.

These words are part of a set of worship resources written by middle and high school youth group members at the First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown, New York. You can find these online at the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship website as well. Many thanks to Carol Young, who passionately took action when she emailed me, and spoke with me about taking action on this this last week.

May we be awake to the blessings which are in God’s loving realm, sing the songs of Christ’s blessing in family, this community, and throughout the world, and share the dance of a lifetime. Amen.