Plain Talk Rev Dr Durrell Watkins Feb 23, 2014 We conclude today our February trek through the fifth chapter of the gospel of Matthew. As we’ve mined this especially rich chapter we have discovered many great treasures. We started with the beatitudes, seeing the power and possibility of affirming those who have experienced heartache and […]
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins
Feb 23, 2014
We conclude today our February trek through the fifth chapter of the gospel of Matthew.
As we’ve mined this especially rich chapter we have discovered many great treasures.
We started with the beatitudes, seeing the power and possibility of affirming those who have experienced heartache and struggle. Blessed are you who have been vilified, marginalized, who have known depression or grief, who have been forgotten or abused…even when life has seemed unfair, you have always been a person of sacred value…the real you is forever blessed, eternally part and parcel of the divine presence.
The following week we heard Jesus make one of the most soul nourishing and earth shaking declarations in human history. YOU are the light of the world. You are more than your mistakes, more than your disappointments, more than your fears. What you really are is divine light in this world.
And then last week we witnessed Jesus rethinking old assumptions…”you have heard it said…but I say.”
You’ve heard religion used in some negative, scary, and soul crushing ways, but I say we can rethink those old assumptions and have a brighter, healthier, more uplifting spiritual experience.
And we conclude this part of the Sermon on the Mount today with Jesus saying, “Let your yes be a plain yes.” Just operate with integrity. Just be honest. In other words, just dare to tell the truth.
And so, following Jesus’, or at least Matthew’s imagining of Jesus’ line of thinking, I want to do some simple truth telling today. I just want to share some real alternatives to other religious teachings that have hurt and halted and harassed too many people for far too long. I just want to share with you some plain talk.
First, I want to remind you of some plain, simple, and powerful assertions that we make at Sunshine Cathedral.
We affirm that we are a DIFFERENT kind of church…and that is our gift to the world.
We declare that our desire is to rescue religion from irrelevance, practice positive thinking, be justice workers, build community, value diversity, and help people experience peace, hope, and joy in their lives…and that is our gift to the world.
We repeat over and over that our message is that ALL people have sacred value…and that is our gift to the world.
We take our place as a Metropolitan Community Church and MCC today is an inclusive movement committed to social action, an advocate for the marginalized & oppressed, a partner with other organizations working for positive change, a witness calling attention to human rights abuses, a voice for global justice, a source of hope for people all over the world.
And so in 2014 and in the years to come we are going to partner more than ever before with the Global Justice Institute and with the Progressive Christian Network to bring a radically inclusive, life-changing, world shaking, religion shattering, spiritually nurturing, community building message of hope and healing to wounded, hurting, broken hearts all over the world!
Using every technology at our disposal we will not only continue reaching out to Broward County to invite more and more people to experience a liberating gospel message but we will also try to partner with various organizations to create safe havens in Nigeria, to challenge the rhetoric of hate in Uganda, to strengthen community in Jamaica, to offer encouragement to people in Russia, and to rebuke and resist the attempts to create a gay version of Jim Crow in Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas, Tennessee and anywhere where hate tries to present itself as holiness, where prejudice wraps itself in piety, and where villainy claims to be virtue.
2014 is a year of Transformation for Sunshine Cathedral and the people that call it their spiritual home, so religious and political tyrants from Tallahassee to Tehran, from Oklahoma City to Salt Lake City, from Saddleback to the Outback can now be on notice that in the face of oppression Sunshine Cathedral will not be silent and we will not rest until the worldwide religious reign of terror has come completely to an end.
Oh let us be healers to those in our community who are hurting, and let us be teachers to those who are seeking, and let us have outrageous amounts of fun because we deserve it and it annoys the haters, but let us also be prophets forever shouting out to mighty Caesar that the weapons of our warfare are not physical but they are mighty to the pulling down of oppressive strongholds!
We share MCC’s vision that states, “Following the example of Jesus & empowered by the Spirit, we seek to build leading-edge church communities that demand, proclaim, & do justice in the world.”
Don’t be alarmed by the good news that the universal, benevolent power and presence that we call God is omnipresent, meaning there’s not a spot where God is not, and so, therefore, we could not possibly ever be separated from God. Don’t be scared that it’s too good be true. How could good news ever be too good?
Remember, the writer of 1st John said that God is LOVE and WHOEVER, whoever, that’s you and you and you, whoever lives in love lives in God and God lives in them.
Maybe the people who say God is love and God’s love excludes no one and all people are held forever in God’s embrace are wrong; I can’t prove it one way or the other, but I can declare without apology or reservation that I would rather give God too much credit than too little. If God is a cosmic despot let it be said I tried to clean up her image; but heaven forefend that God be gracious and all-loving and we present such a beautiful Reality as a petty, punishing, potentate.
But if God is all hope, all joy, all compassion, all beauty, all peace, all love, then I would never want to blaspheme God’s goodness by suggesting that God was anything less than all-inclusive, unconditional love.
The Apostle Paul prayed, “May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace…”
Fear is not of God. God is love and perfect love casts out fear. Not only is God love but God is the God of HOPE who can fill us with joy and peace, the opposite of fear.
We cannot love what we fear. If we worship God out of fear of being tormented or abandoned by God then that is not love and it doesn’t bring peace or healing. But God if is love and it’s in this omnipresent, divine love that we live and move and have our being, and when we love we are in communion with God, then we have access to hope and peace and joy and we are saved from fear. If your religion has filled you with fear it has done you a disservice, but there is a different way of being religious and we are declaring it ever more boldly at this different kind of church!
There is a story about St Peter and the Angel Gabriel having a spat. St Peter was trying to let only some people into heaven, while turning others away. But there were always more people in heaven than Peter had let in. Gabriel demanded that Peter explain how this could happen but Peter insisted that he only let a few people in of the many who approached the gate. Meanwhile, as they were arguing, Jesus was at the side wall helping people climb over into the realm of paradise.
The so-called saints and gatekeepers want to decide who is fit to be in God’s presence, but God and God’s true prophets are saying that God is love and divine love never rejects anyone for any reason.
Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgender friends, heterosexual allies of the Queer community, I remind you again, you are God’s miracle, not God’s mistake. Are you willing to be liberated by that simple but powerful thought. If so, then let your yes be a simple, but sung, yes: yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
In the room: Hear me Sunshine Cathedral.
On the worldwide web: Here me Broward County. Hear me Jamaica. Here me Nigeria. Here me Russia. Here me Arizona. God is love and whoever lives in love lives in God and God lives in them. This is the plain truth, the simple yes of divine grace. And this is the good news. Amen.
© Durrell Watkins 2014
I say yes to indomitable hope.
I say yes to unconditional, divine love.
I say yes to my own potential.
I say yes to joyful living.
I say yes to who God has created me to be.