A week ago we heard from the President and then from so many other commentators about the status of the nation, I thought I might as well weigh in.
Here are my thoughts about what makes America great, though some of these things are missing, and, therefore, the state of the union is not great, but it is alive and well…on our way to reclaiming, reviving, renewing—one person to another, one meeting at a time.
At RSPC, we serve sandwich bags to people who have little money, no housing, and no place to use the bathroom. The state of the union is inhospitable when we cannot find in our common purse a way to make sure everyone has a roof over their heads and food to eat. Thanks be to God for the charitable contributions of religious institutions and other non-profits which share the abundance of creation with others in acts of justice. One which we support is Intown Collaborative Ministries.
At RSPC, we meet men and women asking for help with buying medicines and who are clearly in need of medical support. The state of the union is cruel when we cannot find in our common purse a way to make sure everyone has the basic healthcare they need and access to the medicines that cure or mitigate symptoms. Thanks be to God for the many non-profit hospitals and clinics that serve the uninsured with mercy and support from charitable contributions and grants. One which we support is Mercy Care street medicine services.
At RSPC, we celebrate diversity. Through our newest advocacy and educational program we are learning the gifts and needs of our immigrant neighbors. In additions we have chosen to affirm and celebrate the gifts of our LGBTQIA+ neighbors. The state of the union is inhumane when we cannot find the common humility to afford human rights to all without regard for nationality or gender identity, or sexual orientation. Thanks be to God for the work of so many individuals and agencies who advocate and provide for people in need, whoever they are. One which we support is Presbyterian Disaster Assistance refugee ministries.
At RSPC, we believe that finding common ground for the common good is not just a nice slogan; it is a vision and a call to join together to create a state of the union that is better today than yesterday and tomorrow will be even better. We believe that common ground is not the lowest common denominator; it is the highest human connection. We believe that the common good is not a redistribution of wealth making people poorer; it is a sharing of abundant resources that makes everyone richer.
At RSPC, we rejoice in each other. Because we have found that differences are not insurmountable, our similarities are not binding, and our intentions are benevolent. The state of the union includes all these things as well. We must quit hiding it behind the fear-based malevolence we so often hear about in social media, in the news, and face-to-face. We do not downplay the brokenness of our union. It is real. We simply believe it can be overcome, wherever 2 or 3 are willing to gather and listen and trust in the underlying good that dwells in each of us. That is our vision. That is what keeps us coming back together when failure stares us in the face.
Much has been said about Sen. John McCain having reached across the aisle, about how he and Sen. Kennedy were friends, about his interrupting a supporter to stop a false narrative about his opponent, then future President Barack Obama. Almost without exception these narratives have been celebrated as a universal common good we should all strive towards.
Democrats and Republicans alike have affirmed this conviction. Yes, they actually agreed on something. And surprisingly, it was that our differences should not divide us.
Soon the reverie around the Senator will fade and his grave will settle, and that goal will recede thus leaving little more than a footnote to the narrative of McCain’s death and life. Once again we shall return to the habits of division we have been manipulated into upholding, even promulgating.
Christian—you have another option! You can make a different choice. You have the freedom in Christ to freely associate with those you would name, “sinner,” “outcast,” “undesirable,” “deplorable,” “illegal,” “alien,” “evil,” “different,” “not like us.”
Christian—Christ has set you free to accept yourselves and to love God and neighbor, and be bound together with all believers in the church. (Brief Statement of Faith)
This particular invitation is specifically directed to the members of the Church. What better place to demonstrate the unity of God and the reconciliation of all creation? Where else is God going to do this work if not in Christ’s own body, the church? Who else to proclaim the gospel of reconciliation if not the followers of the Risen Christ who is our reconciliation? If we in the body of Christ cannot hear and be the word that proclaims, “there is no longer [many] for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” then God’s word of full reconciliation will be fulfilled without us leading the Way.
Christ offers an invitation, a place to practice our unity. Christ invites us to supper. We don’t come to the Lord’s Supper because we have everything in common or because we all believe exactly the same things or because we have the same theology. We come because we have ONE thing in common: we are invited by our Savior, Jesus Christ.
On Sunday, come, all you who are weary, and let Christ give you rest. And don’t worry about who else is invited, just rejoice that your name is on the list! Christian, maybe, the world would take notice of our reaching across the table—if we actually did so.
Peace, Rev Bev
Read John 12:1-11 In this gospel, the anointing of Jesus occurs before the entrance into Jerusalem at the home of Mary and Martha, Lazarus’s sisters. Lazarus was resurrected by God 3 days after his death. Mary honors Jesus. Judas steals from the group and the priests are trying to kill both Jesus and Lazarus. When have you been presented with an either – or situation? A choice to honor or a choice to disrespect? An opportunity to serve God or preserve what you have? What led you to the decision you made? What did you learn from the experience and consequences? Did your choice ultimately help or hinder your faith?
Pray: O God of many names, help me see you when I see any kind of poverty and guide me in your Spirit to serve you without hesitation wherever you may be found.
Read Isaiah 49: 1-7 Consider the creator of the universe saying to the chosen servant, “It is too small a thing,” that you are only for some and not for all. Sit with this claim that the servant of God is sent not to a chosen people but to all people in every nation. This week take notice of the “nations” around you at work, in the grocery store, behind the counter at your favorite fast-food place, picking up trash, mowing the lawn at the office park, speaking the news to you on our local networks….
Pray: Whenever I see a stranger, Light of the Nations, and when they don’t look like me, or come from the background I do, remind me, in the name of Christ, I am your ambassador to all peoples.
Read John 13: 21-32 Wouldn’t it be nice if Jesus would tell us who betrays him here and now? When have you had your heart broken by a betrayal? How would you describe the “death,” that occurred as a result?
Pray: Suffering Christ, forgive me for the ways I give up on you and walk away from you, and break your heart.
Read John 13: 1-17, 31b-35 Have you ever gotten to bathe a baby? Or a person in need of assistance? Think on it. Remember the way their skin felt in your hands. Remember the sounds of the water or cloth or conversation. Remember the sight of a vulnerable person allowing you to cross their personal boundaries. What did you smell? If it could be described in a taste what would that be?
Pray: Thank you, Jesus, for bathing me in your love. Help me to follow your example.
See you in worship at Loudermilk (no foot-washing this year). 7:30 p.m.
Read John 18: 1-19:42
Pray: (Whatever comes to your mind, place it at the foot of the cross and trust that what needs to die with Christ will and what needs to live in him will return to you redeemed.)
Read Psalm 22 This psalm begins with brokenness and concludes in affirming the universal praise due to God. Have you ever been beat down, worn out, on rock bottom and still prayed to God because you know in God lies your hope?
Pray: May I remember, God of hope, that when I am weak, your love is, as always, strong enough to deliver me.
Sunday 4/1 CHRIST IS RISEN!
(When you enter the 11:00 a.m. Sanctuary Worship however, it will look like you are going to the tomb with the early morning. This will allow a time of silent reflection on all that transpired for Jesus and the disciples this week, including the crucifixion and burial of Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.)
See you in worship: 9:00 a.m. casual, outside, brass ensemble, Hicks with Picks, celebration and communion; 11:00 a.m. Sanctuary—brass ensemble, from Passion to Resurrection, communion and new life. Following worship you are invited to remain for an Easter potluck in Fellowship Hall—meat and drinks provided, please bring a dish to share.
Week 6 March 19-25