Do Something

On February 26, 2018, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Do Something Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Feb. 25, 2018 Let us dwell together in peace and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. After college, I desperately wanted to go to graduate school, but I really doubted […]

Do Something
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Feb. 25, 2018

Let us dwell together in peace and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

After college, I desperately wanted to go to graduate school, but I really doubted that I had the academic chops. I was telling my therapist about it and she said to me, “take one class.” I had aced classes before. It could happen. Take the pressure off, she advised. Stop telling yourself all the reasons you might fail, and just take a class. Do something.

Well, I took a class, aced it, and there was no stopping me after that. By doing something, I was able to do more and more. I now have lots of letters behind my name and enjoyed every step of the journey, but it all began when I decided to do something.

Jesus often asked people to do something.
Jesus treated a blind man by making a crude ointment of spittle and dirt. After applying the ointment, he told the man to do something – go wash the nasty ointment off. He did, and, of course, things improved for him.

A woman with a chronic hemorrhage touched Jesus’ garment. She was breaking cultural norms to do so, but she felt like if she did something she might get better. She had seen doctors but they weren’t effective so she decided to do something else. And, she got better.

A centurion, a member of the ruling class, an occupier of Jesus’ land came to Jesus begging him for help for his servant. The Greek word used for servant has romantic connotations, and the centurion’s devotion to a member of the slave class further suggests that this servant and the centurion have a special relationship. The centurion does something: he humbles himself by going to someone he rules over to ask for help. His love for his “servant” is so strong, he will humble himself and beg a faith healer for assistance. Jesus not only blesses the servant, he praises the centurion’s faith…the faith that led him to do something.

Most of Jesus’ healing miracles involved asking people to do something, showing us that what God does for us, God does through us.

What’s our saying?: Say a prayer and take a pill, if one doesn’t work the other will! Do something.
There’s an old proverb: Trust Allah, but tether your camel. Do something.
That was Jesus’ philosophy. Pray and do. It was his formula for miracles.

In today’s gospel lesson, we see Jesus demonstrating Do Something theology.

First, Jesus takes his clothes off. That’s a symbol of vulnerability and trust.

On the beach, we have a sort of social contract…I won’t judge you, you won’t judge me. No matter how pale or pasty I might be, no matter how distant any hint of six pack abs might be, no matter what hangs or droops, or what may be tatted or pierced, at the beach we don’t judge. No shame. Just break out the SPF 30 and have a good time.

Now, if to pick up some extra cash I strip down to my skivvies and start working a pole at the Boardwalk, then you get to judge plenty. “What was he thinking?!”

So, disrobing, except for in certain safe zones, can be risky. And here’s Jesus, taking it off. He does something that could make him uncomfortable, that could make others uncomfortable, but he needs to do something.

Sometimes we need to strip away the outer defenses and let more of who we are be seen. I’m not asking you to defy you sense of modesty, but I am saying, growth and healing sometimes require a bit of unlayering.

Coming out is a type of disrobing.
Going into recovery is a type of disrobing.
Asking for prayer and support when starting chemo or facing surgery is a type of disrobing.
Starting therapy is a type of disrobing.
It’s risky. It’s scary.
It’s healing. It’s empowering.

Now it’s one thing for Jesus to parade around in a towel, but now he wants to give his friends a sponge bath?
Um, Jesus, could I interest you in a boundary?
Peter is especially scandalized that his teacher would kneel down in front of him and wash his nasty feet. Peter says, “No, thank you.”

It’s time for Peter take a risk. Risk being loved, Peter. Risk being cared for; risk letting people know that beneath your perfect coiffeur and your lotioned and perfumed torso there are knobby knees and crusty feet. Risk letting someone know you and appreciate you, bunions and all.

Friendship is intimate. Worship is intimate. Romance is intimate. Speaking or performing in public is intimate…to really connect with an audience of any size, one has to be somewhat open, intimate. And intimacy is risky. Trusting people and getting hurt and forgiving and daring to trust again…that can be smelly feet awkward, and naked in front of your friends uncomfortable. But it might be worth the risk. Jesus thought it was.

What Peter and the gang don’t yet understand is that Jesus needs to do something. He’s wanted for sedition. People are whispering that he could set up his own government in defiance of the Empire. Rome ain’t having that. If the authorities find Jesus, and thanks to Judas they will, he will be imprisoned, or flogged, or sold into slavery, or executed. There’s no pretty ending to this story.

So Jesus needs to do something. The clock is ticking. He needs his friends to know that he loves them. He needs to press upon them how love is their mission no matter what happens to him. He wants them to remember him, of course, but even more importantly, he wants them to continue the work. Give the people their dignity back. Touch the untouchables. Love the unloved. Care for the sick, the poor, the marginalized. Help the broken feel whole. Be relentless in declaring the all-inclusive and unconditional love of God.

So, one more time and in a particularly dramatic and intimate way, Jesus shows them his love and his commitment to the ministry of love. He strips before them, bare and vulnerable. And he kneels before them, and he washes their feet. He needs them to know that love is worth the risk. God is love, and so love must win, because omnipresent, eternal, divine Love is the stuff of the universe…in the final analysis, love is all there really is.

With all the pugnacious preachers spewing fear, wrath and condemnation, we need the God of love proclaimed by a naked, foot-washing Christ.

My friends, do something.
Take a class.
Join a support group.
Volunteer.
Ask God for guidance.
Make amends.
Forgive someone who disappointed you.
Forgive yourself for that dumb mistake.
Take your medicine.
Do something.

If you need to see something differently, or experience something differently, if you need to rise above fear or conquer worry…Jesus has some good counsel for us today: pray, and do something. That simple formula could lead to a miracle. And this is the good news. Amen.

Dear God,
Heal my fears.
And reveal the something that is mine to do…
that will lead to the breakthrough I need.
Amen.

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