Jesus’ Mission, & Ours Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Jesus’ Mission, & Ours
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
One With God Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
One With God
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
A Spiritual Language Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins (Pentecost 2016) In the Hebrew scriptures there is a story of the prophet Elijah who rose in a whirlwind with a fiery chariot present. His spirit or life-force then descended on his disciple Elisha. There was a legend that Elijah would one day return to earthly life. In […]
A Spiritual Language
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins (Pentecost 2016)
In the Hebrew scriptures there is a story of the prophet Elijah who rose in a whirlwind with a fiery chariot present.
His spirit or life-force then descended on his disciple Elisha.
There was a legend that Elijah would one day return to earthly life.
In the book of Acts, Luke transfers the Elijah story to Jesus; Jesus ascends and spirit falls on his disciples.
But filled with the spirit that empowered Jesus, they then become the body of Christ in the world…they are the return, and we who hear and embrace and try to live the story are also the return.
So, Luke is trying to put the return of Christ speculation to rest. It’s us, he’s saying, now get to work.
Luke includes wind, fire, and spiritual empowerment of disciples in his story, all of which were dramatic elements of the Elijah tale. Of course the wind represents the energy, the power, the presence, the spirit of God, and the flames represent the light within us, the passion of our hearts to be a force for good in the world.
What Luke adds, and what always resonates with me, is the disciples’ ability to speak in new ways after their transformational experience.
That is when spirituality is most effective, I think…when it teaches us how to speak in new ways, how to communicate good news in new ways, how to relate hope in new ways.
Luke imagines this mysterious moment as being the turning point for the Christian movement. They are now Christ in the world. They are now aware of their unity with God’s power and presence. They now have new hope and new courage and new peace, and they now are sharing this message in new ways so that more people can embrace it and benefit from it.
That’s what we want, even still. So we speak in ways that seem to new to many people, but they are ways that help us discover God within us and that discovery transforms us. It heals our fears, it renews our hopes, it reminds us that we have something to share and as we share it the world is made better.
And so we say:
I am God’s miracle and not God’s mistake.
There’s not a spot where God is not.
The past is past and the future has infinite possibilities.
This new way of talking isn’t really new; it’s just new for people who were thoroughly religious (oddly enough).
The Psalmist affirmed, “God is my shepherd, my needs are met.”
The Apostle Paul affirmed, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.”
Jesus affirmed, “God and I are one.”
Others have shown us this new way of speaking…
Emma Curtis Hopkins said: “There is good for me and I ought to have it.”
“There is no mixture of evil with my good.”
Johnnie Colemon: “I am the thinker that thinks the thought that makes the thing.”
Nona Brooks: “I am in God, of God, like God.”
James Dillet Freeman “The light of God surrounds me; the love of God enfolds me. The power of God protects me; the presence of God watches over me. Wherever I am, God is” and all is well.
Julian of Norwich “All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
We are the resurrected and returned presence of Christ in the world.
We are divine Love incarnate.
And we have the power to remind ourselves of that day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.
We can remind ourselves of our sacred value over and over until we are transformed, renewed, and filled with joy.
And having embraced these gifts, we have them to share with a world that needs them.
To every gay person in Jamaica, Nigeria, Uganda, or Russia whose life is in constant danger just for being who you are, we speak this spiritual language to and for you today declaring that you are God’s miracle and not God’s mistake.
To our transgender and gender non-conforming friends who are being demonized and dehumanized for base, crass political reasons, we speak this spiritual language to and for you today declaring that you are in God, of like, and like God.
To anyone who has known pain, disappointment, fear, or regret, we speak this spiritual language to and for you today declaring that all shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
To anyone who has believed that for any reason that they were beyond the reach of God’s love, we speak this spiritual language to and for you today declaring that NOTHING can separate you from the love of God.
And for anyone who is trying to summon hope in your life, we speak this spiritual language to and for you today declaring that there’s not a spot where God is not…wherever you are, God is, and wherever God is, there is reason to hope.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, this can be your Pentecostal moment, your moment of transformation, where you embrace and celebrate the healing message that you are one with God. And this is the good news! Amen.
© Durrell Watkins 2016
I am speaking words of life today.
I am speaking words of hope today.
I am speaking words of joy today.
Rising to New Heights Rev Dr Durrell Watkins (Ascension 2016) There is a story in the bible, in the book of 2 Kings that tells of the end of the life of a man named Elijah. The prophet Elijah was a healer and teacher. He had a disciple, a spiritual son, named Elisha wanted to […]
Rising to New Heights
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins (Ascension 2016)
There is a story in the bible, in the book of 2 Kings that tells of the end of the life of a man named Elijah.
The prophet Elijah was a healer and teacher. He had a disciple, a spiritual son, named Elisha wanted to be like a Elijah. he even asked Elijah to give him a double portion of his own spirit, his life-force, his talent, his enduring nobility.
Elijah told his disciple that if he saw him when he left the world, that he would receive the spiritual gift he requested. Soon, Elisha saw Elijah carried away by a whirlwind beyond the sky. Since he witnessed Elijah’s departure, we are left to believe he received the spirit of the prophet. The story says he picked up Elijah’s mantle and continued his work. Elisha became a healer and teacher just like Elijah.
The Ascension story from the Acts reading today is a retelling of that older story. But in the Acts version, the ascending prophet is Jesus and instead of one disciple there are many. But those disciples will soon be immersed in the spirit of their Teacher, and they will pick up his mantle and continue his work as the early church.
These stories aren’t literal history; they are theological poetry. They are creative ways of encouraging us to be prophetic, courageous, and healing; and, of course, they are meant to give us hope.
What Ascension stories tell us is that wherever we are in life, we can rise higher. We can rise above fear, regret, and shame, and we can help others do the same.
Once I was able to help someone rise above their terror and into a new realm of existence. His church had told him he was beyond the reach of God’s love because he was gay, and so he left the church, and religion, and faith.
When he was lying in a hospital bed dying from AIDS related complications, his fundamentalist mother reached out to me. She had heard that the church I served wouldn’t condemn her son. He hadn’t been to church since he was a teenager, but now all those old tapes tormented him. He was too sick to live and too afraid to die. He was afraid an eternity of torment was waiting on him simply because of who he was born to be.
I told him about how loving his mother was to reach out to someone to try to comfort him. I asked him if he trusted that his mother loved him, and he said yes. I then quoted Isaiah 66.13 to him, where the writer imagines God saying, “Like a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” I promised him that God loved him at least as much as his mother did, and that God was waiting to embrace him with a love that would never let him go. That night, he died peacefully in his sleep. The hospital probably thought it was just one more AIDS death. I thought it was a healing miracle.
A beautiful woman, Rev. Kay, once helped me rise above my fear. I had been given my own frightening diagnosis. I called her up, hoping for comfort, or maybe some miracle working prayer that would make it all okay. She could hear the pain and sorrow in my voice as I told her about my diagnosis (which at the time was not only considered incurable but often fatal). And this dear mother, grandmother, and minister said to me, “Oh Darling, that’s just information.”
She let me know it wasn’t a curse, it wasn’t a verdict, it wasn’t a guarantee, it was just an experience; it was just information. I still had the power to choose how I would respond to it. Fear, anger, self-pity…that was an option. Courage, hope, and peace…that was also an option. I decided I would choose the latter. I could play the victim or claim the victory; I could get bitter or I could get better. The story wasn’t over yet. How would I shape it going forward?
Once I realized that my experience was just an experience, the news I had received was just information, and the future still had infinite possibilities, I ascended to new levels of hope and peace.
On this Mother’s Day, I want you to hear again these words of scripture…they are human words, but in them God’s voice is heard: They say, “Like a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.”
Whatever your need is today, a divine mother’s love is present to help you ascend above your pain and fear to new heights of hope and peace. And this is the good news.
(C) Durrell Watkins 2016
I am rising on currents of divine love.
I am rising above fear, shame, and regret.
I am rising to new heights of hope and peace.
And so it is.
Are You Ready? May 1, 2016 Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
Are You Ready?
May 1, 2016
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins