Thursday, February 21, 2013

Last night's sermon.

February 20, 2013
Lenten Mid-Week Service
Hebrews 3:7-15

Please pray with me,

As you led the Israelites through the wilderness, as you were with Joseph and Mary as they journeyed to Bethlehem, and as you journeyed with Jesus to the cross….you are with us now. Guide our hearts, minds and bodies on this Lenten journey. Continue to turn us toward you, our light and our path, guiding us every step of the way. In Jesus’ name, amen.

At this point, I read the book Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. If you don't have a copy click Here and you can have it read to you! (It's worth a listen.)

It is written in Hebrews, Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today’, so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.

It’s so easy to get angry and upset, to stomp our feet and shake our fists.

William Willamon writes, “Anger is a natural, necessary response in the face of injustice. It is an acknowledgement that this is not the world as it is meant to be, not the world as God intended. The anger should be expressed, preferable in church, in prayer, in conversation with God. We have a God who is good enough and great enough to receive our anger, to take even the most raw human emotions and weave them into his purposes. Anger can be expressed, but ought not be acted upon without the greatest of care……Gross injustice, great anger, ought to be given to god as our offering, our confession that we have come to a place in our lives where we are unable to fix that which afflicts us.” (Sinning Like a Christian p.72)

Hear that again, anger ought to be brought to God as our offering, our confession that we have come to a place in our lives where we are unable to fix that which afflicts us.

Anger may be that place where we most need to be reminded of the cross and God’s presence in our lives. That anger is not something we can respond to on our own…that this is a time in our lives and our hearts that we need peace.

Tonight was ask God to create in us….peace. In doing that, we offer up to God the knowledge and the confession that we cannot fix the problems that surround us.

When we ask God to create peace in ourselves…we are giving up the anger to God….saying we know we can’t deal with it….but know that we have it and know that we need your presence here and now as we express it.

As this time, I invite everyone, starting with the younger ones up front to come and offer your stone to the cross….may this be our confession and our offering of our anger to God. May we do it quietly as we think about things that cause us anger….of that keep us from feeling peace.

As we give this up, we create space for peace in our hearts, our homes, our lives and our community.

As you depart from worship this night, you are invited to take a stone from the basket in the narthex….take a stone home with you, keep it with you in your pocket, or place it on your tableaux with the ash cross, as a reminder that God is with us in all of our emotions and wishes us to have peaceful hearts, yet it is so easy to have our hearts harden. So may a stone and a cross be your daily reminder that you, that I, that we cannot handle life on our own. God is always present. May we take time this Lent to return to the cross, return to opportunities to see and bring to life God’s relationship with us.

Let us pray,

Gracious God, we come before you this day praying for the peace. Create in us clean and peaceful hearts O God, may we release to you our anger and our pain….and may we know that you can handle it…that you are ready for it….and that you will continue to hold us, listen to us and love us no matter what.

And may the peace which passes all understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.

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