Sharing Good News

On April 29, 2019, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Sharing Good News Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Sharing Good News
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Love Lives Forever

On April 22, 2019, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Love Lives Forever Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Easter 2019 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, ay only God’s word be heard. Amen. The tomb was empty…the first resurrection experience was emptiness. No body. No explanation. No […]

Love Lives Forever
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Easter 2019

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, ay only God’s word be heard. Amen.

The tomb was empty…the first resurrection experience was emptiness. No body. No explanation. No proof. No argument. Just emptiness. Unanswered questions. And an angelic urgency to return to living fully.

Jesus was a friend to the friendless, a healer, a teacher, a conduit through which love flowed (human love and divine love, if there is a difference).
Jesus told people they were lovable.
He loved the unloved, touched the untouchable, affirmed those who had been pushed to the margins.
He loved people into wholeness.
He helped them love themselves, and he encouraged them to share the healing power of love with the world.

When hate and fear came for Jesus, tried to bring him down, vilified him and condemned and killed him, his friends and admirers were devastated.
Some wanted him to be their conquering hero.
But it was he who was vanquished. Betrayed. Arrested. Tried. Convicted of sedition. Finally executed.

But all that love that Jesus preached, demonstrated, shared…that love lives forever. People soon discovered that even after he was killed, they could still love Jesus, and continue to love in his name. They may be feeling some emptiness right now, but love fills the empty spaces, and brings hope and healing. Love lives forever.

Now, some women (Mary, Mary, and Mary) go to visit the body. The first people to experience the hope and the recharge that we call Resurrection were a bunch of Marys…aintathat good news?

The body is gone. Nothing has worked out as expected.
But he’s still with us, somehow. He still wants us to heal the hurting and offer hope to the hopeless and encourage the lonely and speak truth to power and resist injustice.
That’s what got him killed, but love gives even when there is risk involved. And we if are to love, we will have to take some risks. And somehow, the Marys, and the disciples, and you and I feel the strength of his love urging us to love in ways that threaten domination systems with the possibility of radical healing, restorative justice, and divine peace.

Even with all that’s gone wrong, we know that he wants us to go on to Galilee, to keep moving forward; he wants us to be, as he was, divine love in action. Because, as it turns out, love lives forever.

Go to Galilee the Marys are told. Get back into life.
Easter raises them from their funk so that they can share the message that God is all-inclusive, unconditional, everlasting love.

And you get that angels give the women a message to share …women are called to proclaim good news. Luckily the angel didn’t stop to ask if the institution ordained women. The angel just said, ladies, I need you to share your story.

Love wouldn’t leave women out. Love wouldn’t leave same-gender loving people out. Love wouldn’t leave gender non-conforming people out. Love wouldn’t leave people from various traditions and cultures out. Love includes all and Love lives forever.

When I was in seminary, my grandmother died. I was very close to my grandmother. Many nights during that year of grieving, I would go to a small chapel at the seminary. It was an empty, tomblike space. I could cry there. Feel all my feelings, no matter how messy they got. I could speak to my grandmother. Her body died, my love for her didn’t, nor did hers for me. I would ask God to heal my heart, but not too quickly. The loss was too deep…I couldn’t imagine the pain leaving all at once…it had to heal by degrees. I just wanted a presence to be with me in the pain, and to help me move through it in the way that I could.

Thank God for that empty chapel, and those empty hours. How healing they were. They led to new life. Nothing would ever be the same, but so much would still be very good. The progression was Heartache. Emptiness. Resurrection. New life. Alleluia.

In that chapel I experienced resurrection. Priest and poet John Bannister Tabb wrote:
“Out of the dusk a shadow, then a spark.
Out of the cloud a silence, then a lark.
Out of the heart a rapture, then a pain.
Out of the dead, cold ashes, life again.”

Easter for me isn’t about proving something happened once upon a time. Easter, for me is a reminder that love will not let us go, and because of that, new life is always possible. We will experience emptiness, but even in the emptiness there is a sustaining presence and it will lead us to new life.

The past is past and the future has infinite possibilities…that’s Resurrection.

Anyone who has found sobriety,

Anyone who has moved through grief,

anyone who has survived abuse and thrived in spite of it,

anyone who has been demonized or dehumanized because of where they are from or who they love or how they pray or how they identify in their bodies – but who insist on affirming their own sacred value,

anyone who has fallen but somehow has managed to get back up knows that weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. That’s resurrection power. And it can lift you up today.

Have you ever faced difficulty, and afterward, felt an emptiness? There are angels today encouraging you to embrace life fully, to keep loving, to keep sharing…you’ll encounter something divine along the way. Head toward Galilee…there is a miracle or two for you just ahead.

The emptiness of the tomb, the emptiness of any experience isn’t the end of the story, it’s the first hint of resurrection. There’s more to come. Don’t give up yet because Love lives forever; that’s the message of Easter and this is the good news. Amen.

Love lives forever.
Love embraces me forever.
Love renews me today.
Alleluia!
Amen.

A House & A People of Prayer

On April 15, 2019, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

A House and a People of Prayer Palm Sunday 2019 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. Jesus and his friends make a pilgrimage to the […]

A House and a People of Prayer
Palm Sunday 2019
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.

Jesus and his friends make a pilgrimage to the Holy City and its Temple today. He rides in on a borrowed donkey, people who have heard about his ministry of healing and empowering people and challenging injustice get excited when they see him ride into town. They break out with improvisational street theatre, pretending Jesus is a conquering hero riding into town gloriously like a general or a king. They even sing choruses from their hymnal, the Psalter: “Save us! Rescue us! Hosanna!”

Of course, Jesus has no fortress, no army, no influence in the Senate, no friends in high places, not even a proper horse…he comes into town on rent-an-ass.
He’s just a progressive preacher telling people that they are innately whole and forever loved by God. The palm waving, song singing, hero cheering spectacle is funny, and seditious, and it’s empowering, and dangerous.

People treating Jesus, even in jest, like a king could get him into really hot water.
A prophet? A preacher? A healer? Those things are fine, but kings don’t just pop up in Caesar’s empire. If Caesar didn’t hand pick you as a puppet, you ain’t going to be a king. So, even pretending to have kingly ambitions can be deadly.

Immediately following the impromptu street performance where Jesus plays the role of a warrior king to a small audience of enthusiastic would be resisters, he goes to the Temple.

Now remember…it’s the time of Passover, a feast that recalls Moses, with divine aid, leading his people out of bondage from the Egyptian empire. The Passover feast is a memorial of oppressed people placing thumb to nose and waving fingers at the Empire, and getting away with it.

Passover reminds us that God is deeply concerned with the oppressed – the poor, the outcast, the ill, the refugee, the asylum seeker, the transgender soldier, gays and lesbians who remain the target of toxic fundamentalism…Passover is a time where we hear true spiritual leaders advocating for the oppressed, demanding of Pharaoh, “Let my people go!”

And Jesus is going start some mess at Passover?! He and is palm waving fans are basically saying to Caesar, “Let my people go!”
Oh yes, there will be hell to pay and in just a few days.

And now Jesus has a fit and falls in it in the Temple.
The Temple is government sanctioned. At this point the Temple system is a loyal and cooperating part of the empire. And Jesus goes to the Temple.

He sees businesses profiting from Passover. They have set up money exchange counters….like at the airport, so that people can exchange their coins that have Caesar’s image on them for coins that do not (because you can’t have graven images in the Temple, not even coins with graven images on them).

So, enterprising people have set up shop. For a fee, they’ll exchange your currency.
But this is the Holy Temple…not an Amway convention, not Mary Kay, not a Tupperware Party…this is the sign and symbol of our faith. These shopkeepers aren’t offering fundraisers for ministry. They aren’t trying to raise Passover bonuses for the hard working priests. They aren’t funding social services or trying to repair the Temple roof, they are just using the Temple to put money in their own pockets and Jesus can’t stand it.

He quotes them a scripture from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah comforted enslaved eunuchs, telling them are forever part of God’s family, they are forever loved by God, and God’s house is their house – a place of refuge and hope and healing for the wounded and oppressed.

Jesus uses a scripture meant to comfort the oppressed, the outcast…to remind leaders of business, religion, and politics that the Temple is a place of prayer for all people, not a place where the privileged increase their personal power and profits. Religion isn’t meant to maintain white privilege or heteronormativity or gender binaries…religion isn’t meant to be a tool of oppression, its meant to be a house and a people of prayer, of communion with omnipresent, divine love.

And then, Jesus does what the Temple is meant to be used for…he starts praying with people, blessing them, healing them. And the establishment gets angry.

Jesus, on the anniversary of people escaping an oppressive empire, has roused rabble and has confronted the beneficiaries of empire. It should come as no surprise that by Friday, he’s toast. Not because God wanted him to suffer (let us forever be done with the idea of god as a cosmic child abuser…God does not order, ordain, require or rejoice in torture). No, Jesus will suffer because he wouldn’t stay silent about others who suffer.

Since Jesus wants to protect the house of worship as a place of life-changing prayer, I want to lift up three observations about prayer from the text.

On the way to Jerusalem, they stopped in Bethphage. They weren’t yet ready for what Jerusalem had in store. The City of God promises peace, but peace is not apathy. God’s peace includes justice. It takes work, it takes commitment, it takes strength, and we aren’t always ready to do what we must to live out God’s will.

They stopped in Bethphage to pray, prepare, get their stuff together. Prayer helps us prepare for the work in the world we are called to do.

Then they leave Bethphage and journey to Jerusalem. They stopped in Bethphage to prepare, to pray. And prayed up, fueled up, poised and prepared, Jesus can confront injustice. When we’re prayed up, we find that we are powered up to do what is difficult. When it gets ugly, he doesn’t fall apart because he’s prayed up and he’s standing on the principles by which he lives his life.

After challenging the powers that be, Jesus and the gang choose to spend the night in Bethany. We know from other gospel stories that Jesus’ chosen family lives in Bethany. Lazarus, Mary and Martha are his people. They help him feel loved, safe, cared for. He goes to his friends for encouragement. They’ll love him, and pray with him, and remind him of his potential. It’s a house and a family of prayer. He’ll face the music for what he’s done today, but if he reconnects, recharges with the people who believe in him and in whom he believes, he can continue to do what must be done.

Jesus let the people have a cathartic, theatrical experience.
He challenged exploitation.
He ministered to the sick and weary.

He’s had a busy day, and he will pay the price for it…but prayer is how he was able to do all of that, and how he will be able to face the difficulties still to come.

Prayer helps us prepare for the challenges ahead.
Prayer helps us feel empowered.
And prayer helps us recharge.

Sunshine Cathedral is a house and a people of prayer. And this is the good news. Amen.

In this house of prayer
May we become
Prepared,
Empowered,
Recharged.
Hosanna!
Amen.

What the World Needs Now

On April 8, 2019, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

What the World Needs Now by Rev. Terri Steed Pierce, Senior Minister of Joy MCC – Orlando, FL

What the World Needs Now by Rev. Terri Steed Pierce, Senior Minister of Joy MCC – Orlando, FL

 

Use It or Lose It

On April 1, 2019, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Use It or Lose It Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Use It or Lose It
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

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