6th Sunday after Pentecost—Year C—June 30, 2013
Preached at the Lutheran Church of Framingham
Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight oh Lord, our strength, and our redeemer.
This past Friday night, I attended a poetry reading of a friend of mine who serves as the Episcopal priest in Waltham. Last summer, she spent her three month sabbatical writing poetry, which she compiled into a book. One of the poems that she read was in response to a poem by Wendell Berry, entitled “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.”
It starts out by describing the cutthroat environment of the commercial society in which we live—all the focus on profit, raises, more stuff money, at any cost. But then Berry suggests that there is another way to live, a better way, which begins with the advice:
“So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute.”
What does that mean? He goes on to explain:
“Love the Lord. Love the world.
Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.”
This is how Wendell suggests we: “Practice resurrection.”
Hearing Sara read her poem inspired me to go read the Berry’s, and reading Berry’s made me think of the readings for this morning.
His & Jesus’ advise is to focus on what is really important—the big picture, each other—instead of giving too much focus—too much power—to inanimate objects and other things that do not ultimately satisfy, sustain, and give life.
This is how to “not use [our freedom] as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another” as Paul suggests we do.
It is when we “love [our] neighbor as [ourselves]” that we live into the freedom that Christ won for us.
We live in this world, but Christ died on the cross and rose again, so that might too have new life and no longer be of this world—subject to Sin and death.
Christ did this not because we deserved it or could earn it, but for the precise reason that we cannot, never could, it is impossible.
As I prepared to head to Camp Calumet to serve as chaplain this week, I read through the curriculum related to the theme: Faith Alive. Each day we will focus on a faith practice that can help us to actively live our faith, to weave it “into all aspects of our lives” and not just treat it as something to be “taken out for show on a Sunday morning or holiday.” Those five faith practices are: reading the Bible, worship, prayer, hospitality, and service.
These five faith practices, along with many others, are how we can “be guided by the Spirit” and produce good fruit—the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.”
Every day we are called to put aside “the works of the flesh,” not in order to gain salvation, but in order to live into Christ’s freedom.
Jesus did not teach, preach, eat, suffer, die, and rise again, in order that we might continue behaviors and habits that imprison us—“submit [us] again to the yoke of slavery”—those never ending cycles of trying to be good enough, better than the next (and in turn putting others down), turned inwards, focusing just on ourselves.
“For freedom Christ has set us free.”
We have been freed from the power of Sin and death
…freed from having to try to prove our goodness and worth
…freed from working for our own survival
…freed to love others
…freed to share, to cloth, to feed, to serve
…freed to work together and live in harmony and peace
…freed from thinking we need to put others down in order to build ourselves up
…freed from having to worry about burying our father and collecting our inheritance
…freed from needing “to command fire down from heaven [to] consume” all who differ from us, or disagree with us, or are not welcoming of us.
The readings this morning remind us what is at the center of our lives and our faith—the love of God from all of creation, the world, each one of us—the love that was expressed through Jesus’ sacrifice and gift of new life. They provide for us examples and instructions on how to act and how not to act, for “how we live out our faith matters, even if our salvation does not depend on it” (as the Calumet Curriculum guide puts it).
If we proclaim Christ crucified and risen, but love ourselves more than others, we are hypocrites, we discount God, and we make ourselves slave to death once again. But thankfully the Spirit is around, to guide us, to help us in this daily struggle to do something that does not compute with this result based, profit focused, success hungry world, to live into our God given freedom and new life, to work for the other, for justice and peace, as Jesus modeled in life and death—to practice resurrection! Amen.