Unity

On July 23, 2018, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Unity Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins 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. Lev 15 – menstruating woman is untouchable. Any furniture she sits on will be considered contaminated. Mark 5 […]

Unity
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

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.

Lev 15 – menstruating woman is untouchable. Any furniture she sits on will be considered contaminated.
Mark 5 – woman had been hemorrhaging for 12 years. Touched Jesus.

In the 80s, many people with AIDS felt untouchable. People wouldn’t hug them. Some people wouldn’t visit them without being covered from head to toe. Some care facilities would leave their food outside their doors, even if they were too weak to go to the door and get it. When fear and prejudice and ignorance and condemnation left people with a dis-ease feeling untouchable, the way of Jesus was still to hold their hands, to hug them, to wipe their brow, to pray for them, to remind them that to God there is no such thing as untouchable.

Lev 24 – Whoever injures a neighbor is to be injured the same way – limb for limb, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. It was mean to limit retribution, but it still allowed for violent retribution.

Matt 5 – Turn the other cheek. Fight? Yes. But without violence. As St. Paul would tell us, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. Oh, we will take some risks, but bombs and bullets are not the weapons of Jesus. We may say with the psalmist, “the rod and staff comfort me,” but Jesus said, “Put away your sword”. The Jesus way is hard sometimes, and it remains counter cultural.

Psalm 109 – May my enemy’s days be few;…May his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow!…Let there be none to extend kindness to him. (Straight up cursed an enemy with prayer)…

But Jesus…

Luke 23 – Forgive them; they don’t know what they are doing.

Jesus’ way was not the way of condemnation. Even when others weaponized scripture, he liberated scripture and then used it to liberate others. Jesus’ way was always the way of welcome, of affirmation, of celebration, of dignity, of compassion.

It’s not easy, and we get it wrong (God knows I do), but that’s when we pray, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” and we try again. We start over practicing love, compassion, hope, gentleness, forgiveness, peace. We try again to remember that we are all the children of God and we are all meant to enjoy peace and plenty, hope and happiness.

The way of the world, the way of politics, the way of many families, the way of society, even the way of religion can be harsh, frightening, unfair, cold, even cruel.
But Jesus demonstrates a different way and followers of Jesus are meant to practice that different way.

To be a FOLLOWER of Jesus is to reject violence.
To be a follower of Jesus is to extend compassion to the hurting.
To be a follower of Jesus is to be concerned for the prisoner, the refugee, the poor, the sick, the lonely, the marginalized, the oppressed.

It’s hard to be nonviolent in a violent world. But its the Jesus way.
It’s hard to be compassionate when fear and hatred seem to saturate the fabric of society. But compassion is the Jesus way.
It’s hard to be generous when “me first” and “us first” are being pumped into our consciousness every day.
It’s hard to forgive. It’s hard to risk. It’s hard to get up when you’ve been knocked down. It’s hard to imagine that beyond the darkness of a tomb there are resurrection possibilities. It’s hard to follow Jesus which is why he has a billion worshipers and so few followers.

Mark 10 – a rich young man came to Jesus and said, “Good Master, what must I do to achieve everlasting significance?” And Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? PS, you know what to do. Be kind and generous.” And the young man walked away sad because that’s not what he wanted to hear.
It was so much easier to say “good master” than it was to be committed to kindness and generosity.

“Lord, Lord” is easy to say…but to love neighbor, turn the other cheek, forgive 70 x 7, worship with your last two mites, to touch the untouchable, love the unloved, work for peace, demand justice, affirm the sacred value of all people…that is a lot of work. Can’t we just say, “Lord, Lord!”? Can’t we just say, “Good master!”?

Jesus never once said, “Blow smoke up my skirt.” He did say, “follow me.” And he said, “if you love me, feed my sheep.” And he said, “let the children come to me.” And he said, “come to me all who labor and are heavy burdened and I will refresh you.” Will we dare try, even if means to try and fail, but will we try to follow that example?

Ephesians 2 calls us to remember the Jesus way.
The Roman peace, the peace promised by empire was maintained by domination and intimidation.
Today’s scripture says that Jesus is our peace. Not the Roman peace, not the peace that politics and empire and power and privilege promise…the peace of Christ is the peace that comes from kindness and generosity and caring what happens to LGBTQ people and caring about what happens to people seeking refuge and caring about women having sovereignty over their own bodies and caring about people in Flint not having drinkable water and caring about our friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens in Puerto Rico who are still suffering…the peace that comes from caring and sharing and loving and forgiving and hoping…that is the peace and the power that comes from following Jesus.

Ephesians reminds us that there are no strangers, no aliens, no outcasts, no untouchables…not to followers of Jesus, because we are part of one family, one humanity, we are all children of one God. Jesus is our example of how to live as a child of God. Jesus is an example of how to live so authentically as a human being that divinity is expressed. Jesus is an example of the life changing power of living as if we believed we were one with God.

When we follow the way of Christ, we have the peace of Christ.
The way of Christ is knowing our unity with God, and with one another. If there’s not a spot where God is not, if God is omnipresent, everlasting, unconditional, and all-inclusive love, then peace is possible, it is inevitable, and it will tear down walls and bring us together as a healing force in the world.

The way of Christ is the way of unity, of recognizing that we are one with all life and with the Source of life. The way of Christ is the way to peace, and we are here as the church to practice that way, the way of Christ our peace. And this is the good news. Amen.

I am one with God.
I am one with all life.
I am one with all that is good.
And so it is.

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