Recharge the Batteries

On June 4, 2018, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Recharge the Batteries Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Dt. 5.12; Mk. 3.1-6 June 3, 2018 Let us dwell together in peace; and let us not be instruments of our own or other people’s oppression. And now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. In seminary I took a Zen meditation course. […]

Recharge the Batteries
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Dt. 5.12; Mk. 3.1-6
June 3, 2018

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

In seminary I took a Zen meditation course. Now, meditation can certainly be done as a solitary activity, but in this course we meditated together.

Every morning at 6:30 am we met for an hour to sit on cushions and enter into the Silence. And sometimes, the silence was so rich, so powerful, so thick it was like its own space, its own reality, its own world. Even silence was better when shared with others.

Nothing recharges the batteries like shared worship. And its not just one thing…scripture, song, sermon, sacrament, sharing…all of it comes together to facilitate miracles.

And in the gospel lesson today, it is in worship that a miracle happens. A man experiences a dramatic healing.

I’ve been healed in worship. I’ve come to worship with head bowed not in reverence but in sorrow, and left with it held high.

I’ve come to worship feeling lost and alone, and left reminded that God is the Love that will not and cannot let me go.

I’ve come to worship with an empty cup and left with my cup overflowing.

The psalmist prayed, “You are holy, you who inhabit the praise of your people.” (Ps. 22.3) When the people come together to pray and praise, God is experienced in ways that can change hearts, change minds, change lives.

When my batteries are weak, a nap can help, the gym can help, a chat with a dear friend can help, a classic movie can help, but nothing recharges my batteries more than worship. When I travel I find a place to worship. I need the miracles that seem reserved for corporate worship, common prayer, for those times when two or more are gathered in the name of faith.

In today’s gospel reading Jesus goes to worship. He gives out so much, he needs to refuel. He needs the prayers of others. He needs voices raised together in song, scriptures read aloud, loving glances and kind gestures passed between fellow journeyers. He gives so much, he needs his batteries recharged.

So Jesus goes to worship at the synagogue and there is someone there with an atrophied hand. There are also people waiting for Jesus. They want to trap him. They assume that if he sees a woman bent over from back pain or a child laid out on a stretcher or a man with an atrophied hand, Jesus will probably pray for them. And then they can pounce.

Healing can be considered work, and the rigid enforcers of religious regulations say that you can’t work on the Sabbath. So, if they catch Jesus showing compassion they have him…and, have you met Jesus? He’s going to show compassion! Religious people? Not always. But Jesus, yes.

And he does. He sees the the man with his broken wing, and he encourages him. But he doesn’t heal him. He doesn’t break the no healing work rule. He just asks him to stretch out his hand.
He’s really asking him to stretch his faith. And the man does, and then he discovers that he has had a healing.
Jesus didn’t touch him, didn’t pray for him, didn’t slip him an aspirin. He just encouraged him and the man had his own miraculous experience. That shows the power of encouragement.
You want to help someone? Encourage them. You may be setting the stage for a miracle.

Jesus and his new friend have their batteries recharged in the context of worship.

But Jesus’ critics…they didn’t have the same wonderful experience that Jesus and the healed man had. They weren’t there to praise or share or celebrate…they were there to use religion as a weapon, and all they got was meaner.
And while healing on the sabbath was against their rules, they see nothing wrong with plotting to destroy Jesus’ life, also on the Sabbath! Weaponized religion is religion at its most toxic.

The religious wrist slappers and fundamentalists of the story show us how in the hands of hate, religion can be weaponized.
But Jesus shows us how faith can uplift, heal, encourage.

Toxic religion has said that same-gender loving people are beyond the reach of God’s love, but righteous faith says God is love and WHOEVER lives in love lives in God and God lives in them. (I Jn 4.16) Toxic religion says only certain groups or people who hold certain opinions get to know God, but righteous faith says it is IN God that we all live and move and have our being. (Acts 17.28) Toxic religion says it is impossible to experience life beyond strictly enforced gender binaries, but righteous faith says that in Christ there is neither male nor female, we are all one in Christ. (Gal. 3.28) Toxic religion tells women they are secondary to men, but righteous faith says that God created humans, male and female, in the divine image. (Gen. 1.27) Toxic religion told slaves to obey their masters (Eph. 6.5) but righteous faith said, “Let my people go!” (Ex. 9.1) Toxic religion embraces violence, while righteous faith demands that we beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks. (Is. 2.4) Toxic religion says I need a jet to do the Lord’s work, but righteous faith says deliver good news to the poor, bind up the broken hearted, demand the release of captives and offer freedom from darkness for those in prison (Is. 61.1).
And the broken hearts we are meant to minister to include transgender hearts, refugee hearts, asylum seeking hearts, and every heart that God forbids us to forget in the storm ravaged US Commonweath of Puerto Rico.
Toxic religion operates on fear, but righteous faith says fear not for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people (Lk 2.10).

The time is now to worship in spirit and in truth (Jn 4.24), that is, to worship in ways that promote righteous faith. A faith community that rejects toxic religion is possible, it’s a different kind of church but its future has infinite possibilities!

Many of us were hurt by religion, but I thank God that we reclaimed our faith. And we are still stretching our faith and daring to attempt what some say can’t be done. But we worship and recharge our batteries and we remember that with God all things are possible.

In the context of worship, power is released and blessings are received that don’t seem to happen in any other environment. If you are here to worship, to pray, to praise, to celebrate, to seek, to care, to share…there is a blessing in store for you that no one can take away. And in any case, you may well wind up with recharged batteries, and this is the good news. Amen.

Mighty God,
Where joy has withered,
Or hope has been battered,
Let healing and restoration now occur.
Amen.

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