The One All

On August 5, 2019, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

The One All Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Colossians 3.8-11 Let us dwell together in peace, 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. We are here today because we have decided to at least try to follow the […]

The One All
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Colossians 3.8-11

Let us dwell together in peace, 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.

We are here today because we have decided to at least try to follow the way of Jesus; and what is that way?

The Jesus way is his mandate: Love one another.

But of course, one another isn’t just the people in this room.
He said the greatest commandments were to love God and love our neighbor, and with the story of the Good Samaritan, he suggested that even people we have been taught are our enemies are really our neighbors. More than that, they are our kin in the family of God.

When the writer of John’s gospel imagined Jesus saying, “I am the way…” he wasn’t saying that believing something about Jesus gained us entry into the afterlife cosmic country club. The writer was saying following the Jesus way was the way to experience God most fully; and what was the way of Jesus?
Love one another.
Love God and love your neighbor, and the people you can’t stand are still your neighbors.
Do until others as you would have them do unto you.

The people of the earliest Jesus movement were called followers of the Way.
And, still today, we wish to be followers of the Jesus way, the way of love, the way of compassion, the way of justice, the way of hospitality.
That is the way to experience God most fully, and to express God most tangibly in the world.

You see, there is a goodness in the world, and beyond, and we call that goodness “God.” It is pure love, it is the ground of all being, it is the source and substance of our lives. As followers of Jesus, we are meant to be expressions of this divine goodness.

God on a throne high and lifted up is easy to worship, because it‘s far removed from how we actually live our lives.

But God weeping over a lost loved one, God fighting to keep her house, God raising her grandchild, God seeking refuge, God in a cage or a soup line or showing up for his first NA meeting…we have a bit more trouble with those incarnations of the divine.

Remember the Joan Osborne song: “What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us?”
The Jesus story tells us that is exactly who God is. Who is the symbol for God with and among us for Christians?
An illiterate peasant whose conception was a scandal, who was born in a barn, whose family were refugees in Egypt’s, who said he was sometimes homeless with no place to lay his head, who had an arrest record and was executed for crimes against the empire.

If we can see God in Jesus, and this is the point of the Jesus story, we should be able to see glimpses of God in almost anyone, especially those who suffer.

Irwin Gregg was a prominent New Thought minister in Denver…Rev. Gregg tells us in our first reading today that knowing God as presence, power, and goodness and ourselves as being part of God is what true prayer is.
Who is part of God? Everyone.
Who is my neighbor? Everyone.

The writer of Colossians tells us today that Christ, God’s perfect idea or light, is in us all.

Gen 2.7 tells us that after God created the earth, God took some clay of the divinely formed earth and made a human and breathed life into the human…enlivening the earth-being with God’s own breath or spirit. Humanity, made of God’s earth, God’s love, and God’s life-force.

And because we all have sacred value, we are all part of God, we are all filled with God’s life and light…we bless God by being kind to those who most need kindness. Members of God’s body who are doing well minister to other members of God’s body who are hurting, and God is glorified.

Lev. 25.35 tells us: “If your siblings become poor and cannot be self-sufficient, you shall support them as though they were strangers and alien travelers, and they shall live with you.”

Notice, the writer doesn’t say treat the sojourner like a sibling; the instruction is to treat a sibling like a sojourner.
The assumption seems to be that we will be gracious, kind, hospitable to the sojourner…
the kid on the street rejected by family, the woman and her kids seeking shelter and safety from a violent spouse, a desperate family fleeing terrifying regimes or ruthless gangs…

Leviticus assumes that when we encounter such people our hearts will go out to them and we will welcome and love them, and if your friends or relatives hit hard times, treat them with the same generosity and kindness you would show anyone seeking refuge.

Job declares (31.32) that “the alien has not lodged outside, for I have opened my door to the traveler.” Job was righteous, and the proof of his righteousness what is generosity and hospitality.

And Jesus himself said, “Come unto me all who labor and are weary and I will refresh you.” (Matthew 11.28)

So far in 2019, iand t’s just August, at least 26 transgender people have been brutally murdered in the US.
We need the way of Jesus, the way of hospitality, welcome, justice-love, compassion.

People are suffering and dying in US custody at our borders…politics aside, those are children of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion. We need the way of Jesus.

Racists attacks, verbal and physical, are on the rise and it is vile and disgusting and beneath anyone who dares to call themselves a follower of Jesus. Oh we need Jesus’ Golden Rule and Great Command.

The Golden Rule should probably also be applied to our suffering planet upon which we depend for survival.

And violence on shocking scales happens weekly and we barely take time to weep anymore.

People shopping at a discount department store in El Paso were down mowed down in the aisles…
its been concert goers in Las Vegas, movie watchers in Colorado, shall school children in Connecticut, worshipers in South Carolina, teens at school in our own county, people dancing at a club in Orlando…
And we offer thoughts and prayers.

James, the brother of Jesus, preached (James 2.16): “If one of you says to [someone cold and hugnry], “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is that?”
James also said, “faith without action is dead.”

If thoughts and prayers do not spur us to action, our prayers are just an excuse to accept the status quo.

But we can pray, as Rev. Gregg suggested, by affirming the qualities of God and our unity with God.
And if God is good and we are part of God, then we will be God’s hands in the world bringing healing where it is needed.

People are hurting, and people are scared, and people are tired…but there’s hope, and it is us.
We aren’t reduced to just fretting; we can remember our unity with God and be God’s love in action. We can be followers of the Jesus way.

We can spend and donate our money, and pray, and speak out, and volunteer, and vote in ways that affirm our belief in the sacred value of all people.
We can insist on offering hospitality to the stranger, relief to the suffering, consolation to the bereaved, community to the lonely, food to the hungry, advocacy for the oppressed…
we can choose to see that of God in every person and refuse to be silent when anyone is treated as anything other than the living Temple of a Good and Loving God.

We who call ourselves followers of Jesus can commit to living out his Great Commandment.
Love God.
Love Neighbor.
And do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

In other words, act as if God is the one All…and respond to that of God that is in all. The healing of our world literally depends on it. I believe that is our calling and I affirm that we will live into it. And this is the good news. Amen.

There is only one Presence & one Power…
In the universe & in my life:
God, the good omnipotent.
And so it is that all shall be well,
All shall be well,
& all manner of things shall be well.
Alleluia!
Amen.

 

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