Let’s Take a Moment to Get Over Ourselves

On February 10, 2019, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Let’s Take a Moment to Get Over Ourselves Rev Dr Robert Griffin In my previous pastorate I would often tell the congregation what the next Sunday sermon and scripture would be about. So as usual, toward the end of the service, I said, next week I will be preaching about lying. To prepare for it, […]

Let’s Take a Moment to Get Over Ourselves
Rev Dr Robert Griffin

In my previous pastorate I would often tell the congregation what the next Sunday sermon and scripture would be about. So as usual, toward the end of the service, I said, next week I will be preaching about lying. To prepare for it, I would like you all to read Mark Chapter 17.

So, the following Sunday to open my sermon I asked for a show of hands of how many had read the 17th chapter of Mark. Every hand in the church went up. Then I said, funny that, Mark only has 16 chapters, so now I will proceed with my sermon on lying.

Let us pray.

Based on our theme for today, Let’s Take a Moment to Get Over Ourselves, there are just so many directions to go with that thought, such as:
– ‘Oh, honey please, you need to get over yourself.’

– Or, ‘maybe, like, ‘child, what were you thinking’ or just simply, ‘child please’.

– Or, ‘who are you to judge me?’

Matthew is offering us a different approach this morning in three points. Our gospel reading from Matthew is what I am calling the reminder parable. We may have heard it stated differently growing up, but the point remains,

1. Let us look at our own lives before judging someone else’s.

2. Don’t waste your time, talent and resources on those who will not appreciate what you have to offer.

3. Always ask questions, continue to search and not settle, and don’t let a closed door stop you.

So far in the Sermon on the Mount we have heard Jesus
– Giving new insight into the 10 Commandments, where he teaches that all the laws come down to the simple act of love – reminding us that we are to love one another.

– Jesus reminds us that we are to turn the other cheek, and to love enemies (which rules out revenge).

– And, of course we find Jesus teaching the Beatitudes and more.

At the root of it, scripture is meant to set us free. And, how odd that we have often used it to place ourselves in a box, or others in a box, or even God in a box. Scripture is meant to be liberating, and when it doesn’t seem to be, we may just be using it in the wrong way.

So, what is it that our readings are saying to us today? What do we feel when we hear, “You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and others, totally, without judgment”? What do we take in, when we hear, ‘When you recognize what you are and what others are, you will realize that judging them in any way is without meaning? In fact, their meaning is lost to you, precisely because you are judging them.”

That’s what we heard from A Course in Miracles, which is a sacred text to some people.

But, do we hear a reminder to first, focus on ourselves?
Do we hear a reminder that when we are working on ourselves we are working with God, on God’s own creation…the Self.

Now, please understand, we all judge. When I’m feeling a little judgy, my face gives me away. It is like that meme says
– Controlling my tongue is no problem; its my face that needs deliverance

– It could be just the eye roll, when I’m feeling a little judgy

– and for the dog lovers, the one of the dog that says, does your dog bite, No, it’s worse, she judges.

– or it could be the one that says, “I cannot be held responsible for what my face does when you talk”

– or it could just like Bea Arthur, to sum it with this one, “judging you”.

And still we are reminded from our Gospel reading. “Look at yourself first!”

This is definitely a time when it’s good to put ourselves first. Self-reflection is better than working other people’s inventory.

Not only do we not want to become overly judgmental of others, we also don’t want to buy into the unfair judgment’s others make.

We know that the reality is that people still judge based on gender, race, class, sexual orientation, looks, weight, and so on.

Dr Martin Luther King Jr said something that still rings true today: “I have a dream my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Instead of judging people for their differences or their appearance or the ways they speak or worship or where they began their life journeys, we should appreciate what is good in people’s character, and we should choose people of good character for our national and local leaders.

Dr. King knew we all have gifts to share. And I believe that we miss out on people’s giftedness when we dismiss them because of their religion or nationality or who they love or what they tell us their gender identity is.

Character, generosity, kindness, hope, service…these are things we can appreciate in all people.
Author James Baldwin said: ‘we can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”

King and Baldwin reminds us that we must work toward all being liberated together otherwise it continues to be a system of someone holding the silver platter while others benefit from what is on the platter.

As we listen to the news, we can’t help but to recognize that there is more work to be done in this area.

Some of us want things to be good for ourselves and people like us, but we aren’t as concerned for “the other” …we don’t always em-pa-thize with the hurting, the homeless, the sick, the abused, the left out. When we don’t care for the hurting, we have judged them to be unworthy of our concern, unworthy of dignity, unworthy of justice. That sort of judgement is hurting our nation and our world and its making some people’s lives harder than they should be.

And, we sometimes place ourselves in a bubble and tell ourselves that, all that, out there will never hurt us. But we can become a they in the snap of a finger. We may wake up one day and realize that we are now on the other side of the movable wall.

Oh church let me be clear today – one of us preachers will tackle a text like today’s gospel and the very next time we share an opinion or cry out against an injustice or defend someone who has been wronged, someone will say, “ah, but you aren’t supposed to judge!”

We talk about kindness, and people are just waiting for us to be cranky one day (you may not have to wait long).

We talk about optimism, and if we ever have a moment of doubt or discouragement, someone will gleefully say, “Where’s you positive thinking now?’

We’ll try to show the problem of white splaining or mansplaining….and someone will say, “You’re just clergysplaining.”

And we’ll say, “do self-reflection and self-improvement before trying to fix or shame or condemn other people” and then one day, one of us will say its outrageous that trans people aren’t treated fairly or that its terrible that people are preaching homophobia from pulpits or that its frightening that leaders deny climate science, and someone who heard this sermon will say, “See, now you’re judging!”

But when we are called to do self-reflection before pointing fingers at others, that does not mean that we are not to work for justice and healing in our world.

I can both call out injustice, and realize that I, too, need to see where I can try to be fairer in my dealings.

I can notice and say that systems that privilege some and hurt others are not as they should be…and, I can also reflect on how I have benefited from some of those systems.

Being Black and Gay, I’ve faced some prejudice.
Being an educated, professional man, I enjoy some privilege. Calling out systems of oppression doesn’t mean that I don’t have personal work to do and having personal work to do doesn’t mean that I, or you, must stay silent in the face of oppression.

I don’t believe I am betraying Jesus’ intent when I stand firmly against walls…because as a Black man and as a Gay person and as someone who grew up fairly poor…I have been climbing over walls my whole life, and so when I see others being threatened, shamed, or turned away with walls, visible or invisible, I can speak up about that, and I must. I’m not saying people who have other ideas are bad, but I am saying the people they’ve judged to be bad may not be quite so bad either. Bridges, not walls, is the Jesus way.

Walls don’t make us safe, they make us isolated.
Walls and glass ceilings and other barriers have
– kept certain people from advancing in their careers
– Kept education out of reach for some
– Kept same gender loving people from wedding altars
– have Kept women from many pulpits
– Kept adequate medical care out of reach for some
– Kept women from having control over their own bodies
– have Kept trans people from public bathrooms and public service – and now there is a move to remove trans individuals from our military

Let’s not use the judgement sermon to deflect prophetic attempts to include more people in the abundant life.

We are all children of God, and when our society treats some people as if they were not children of God, we need to speak up. That isn’t be judgmental, that is defending those who have been unfairly judged to be unworthy.

Dr Martin Luther King Jr, said: “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice; Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter”

When we ask the right questions of ourselves, what are we being a drum major for, we realize that the shallow things won’t’ matter.

When we search for true meaning in our lives, may that search not allow us to ever become settled or content.

So, in the words of our theme for today, let us get over ourselves, because there is work to be done, in us and through us, in the name of God Almighty. Amen.

God heal our inner wounds…
So that we can be healers in the world.
May we love ourselves more…
So that we will hurt others less.

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