The Sermon

I had the privilige today of sharing a message with my church, today.

I figured I’d post it below.  I know it gets uploaded somewhere on the web.  I’ll put a link in when I figure out where it is.

I feel like quite a newbie at all this.  I quite welcome constructive criticism and comments about either my presentation or the actual content of the message.  If you were there today, or if you invest some of your time now, thanks so very much.  I really appreciate it.

Somebody decided that Pastor Marty deserved a vacation, so I’ll be sharing a message with you today.   We’re so thankful that you’ve joined us this morning.  If you’re a visitor, I hope you’ll fill out the card in the chair in front of you and bring it to the table in back for a gift after the service.

 

 As you can see, I’ve brought some stuff with me

(unpacking random things from a backpack)

  As I’m taking it out, you’re probably wondering something.  What you might be wondering is, “What is he going to do with all this stuff?”

You’re probably assuming I’ve got some kind of object lesson I’d like to share with all my toys up here.  If you’re anything like me, you might even be playing the game of “Hmmm… I wonder if I can guess what his point is before he even makes it.”

 

In truth, I won’t really be using most  of these objects in that I’m unloading.  They are going to sit up here, unused.    We won’t be making a point by cooking pasta or explaining salvation by…

 

The thing I want you to notice is that you might be feeling some combination of surprise and annoyance.  You felt pretty safe in an assumption.  That assumption was this: If I bring something with me, I’ll be using it.

 

And that’s why I brought all this stuff up here: because I wanted us to notice together that very basic and obvious assumption.  If we have stuff, we’ll use it. 

 

When we watch movies or read books we operate on this assumption, too.

When Q gives James Bond a parachute inside his belt buckle, you can be darn sure that 007 will be thrown out of a plane before the end of the movie.

On a more general level, a great playwrite once said “If you have a gun hanging over the mantel in act I, you’d better be prepared to have somebody fire it before the end of Act III.”

This principle even holds true for nonmaterial things.  For skills, for abilities, for attitudes: When Harry Potter learns how to use magic to unlock doors at the beginning of a book, we know that at some point, he’s going to a face a locked door before the end of the book. 

 

One reason for all  this is of course simply that we don’t want our time wasted.  You hope that my preparation for speaking today consisted of me doing more than throwing random stuff in a bag and then improvising about it for the next half hour.  I hope that the author of a play or book or movie I’m watching is going somewhere specific.  I hope that the scenes are all in there for a reason.

But there is something more than this.  We have a basic understanding that people will use what they bring.  We bring objects, we bring possessions,, we bring ideas, hopes, dreams, and assumptions with us, everywhere we go.  Some of these are good.  Some of these are bad. 

We often think we can bring things with us that we won’t use in certain times or places.  We think we can contain things and isolate it in one part of our lives.  I think this is not as true as often as we want it to be though.  It’s hard not to use the things that we always have with us.  It’s hard to prevent things from spilling over.

 

Some time ago, I was put in a pretty unfomfortable situation.  You see a short time after my wife and I moved to Massachusetts, my mother-in-law also moved to Massachusetts.  I tell this story.  A lot.  But I don’t always choose the most neutral words.  Often, when I tell the story, instead of saying that she “also moved” I use verbs like “stalked” or “chased”.  Sometimes, I’ll say that we ran cross country to avoid her and I wonder if we have to cross an ocean to be rid of her.

  They weren’t words I’d said directly to my son, but somehow he picked up on them.

I brought a sense of disrespect toward an adult into my sons life.  I may have well have unpacked a sarcastic attitude from a bag and displayed it before him.  When he elected to share these things with the target of my unkindness, what could I say:

It’s o.k. to be nasty, just not to be people’s faces?  We ought to be kind and loving toward most people, but your mom’s mom is an exception?  You should do as I say not as I do?

In some way I should be flattered.  He’s trying to act like me.  Isn’t that great. 

I never set out to be a lousy example or to hurt my mother in laws feelings.  But what I intended doesn’t really matter here.  I behaved unwisely.  I thought I could keep sarcasm and bitterness isolated away from my son and ultimately my mother-in-law.  And I was wrong.

 

My sarcasm and feelings aren’t bad things by themselves.  But at some point, they blew up in my face.  Proverbs Chapter 1, verse 8-19 says

“My Child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them!  They may say “Come and join us.  Let’s hide and kill someone!  Let’s ambush the innocent!  Let’s swallow them alive as the grave swallows its victims.  Though they are in the prime of life, they will go down into the pit of death.  And the loot we’ll get!  We’ll fill our houses with all kinds of things!  Come on, throw in your lot with us; we’ll split our loot with you.”

“Don’t go along with them, my child!  Stay far away from their paths.  They rush to commit crimes.  They hurry to commit murder.  When a bird sees a trap being set it stays away.  But not these people!  They set an ambush for themselves; they booby trap their own lives!”

I booby trapped myself.  I thought that I could act a certain way… some of the time.  I thought I could bring something with me, and that I wouldn’t be using it.  As true as this seems to me, my first that about the rest of this passage is this: Has anybody really ever been approached that way?  When you were an adolescent, was there ever time you were all just lounging around, so bored, that it pops into your head to go on a murder spree?   Outside of an Oliver Stone movie, do people actually approach each other and say “Hey, I know!  Let’s go kill innocent people!”  How boring does your Friday night have to be, before you decide that it’d be just awesome if you could send somebody down in a pit of death? 

 

   As Solomon wrote the proverbs, I think he knew that sometimes people have certain ideas, sometimes they want us to do things, and the words they actually say don’t really matter.  I think that even back then nobody was likely to approach you using the words the figures do in the proverbs.  It’s the meaning behind what people say that is important. 

And so I’m going to guess that you’re like me.  Nobody has probably ever invited you into a burglary ring before.  But there is a deeper truth going on here.  Sometimes we start down a road and we have no idea what it’s really about.  Certainly, months or years ago, I didn’t realize that I was engaging in something which might be a poor example to my oldest son,  hurt my mother-in-laws feelings and  end up with me feeling quite foolish.

 

In this sermon series, We have been looking at the Proverbs.  The extended metaphor we’ve been working with is this: Finding wisdom is a bit like shopping.

 

Last week, Marty focused on the idea that sometimes, we might simply browse in a store.  We have to look around for the things we want.  Sometimes the things we want are old antiques.  Other times, the thing we want is wisdom.

 

The thing that I want to talk about today is that stores hire people to sell their stuff.  And these people will ask us “Can I help you?”

And sometimes, they actually do help us.  We actually need the thing they have in the store.  We probably could not have found it with out them.  Wisdom is like this.  There are things that we can only learn from other people.  Usually it’s going to be people who know more than us.  I’m looking foreward to next Sunday’s sermon, when we’ll learn about the benefits of learning from the wise.

But the scripture we’re looking at today is actually the flip side of this.  It’s about trying to learn from those who aren’t wise.

If we really think about it, the clerk’s job isn’t to help us.  It’s to sell stuff to us.  Sometimes those things will help us.  Other times they won’t.  But it’s not the clerk’s job to worry about that, really.  Generally speaking, his bosses will be happiest when he’s sold lots of stuff regardless of whether or not the people actually need it.

But a clerk who was this blunt wouldn’t be very good.  If he said “What can I sell you today?” He’s probably not going to do very well. 

Suppose that you told him “If I bought that, I wouldn’t be able to afford to feed my kids.”  If he said “Well, I don’t really care about whether or not your kids eat.  I’m really just interested in selling more stuff.”  You’d probably just walk out of the store. 

Maybe they want to sell us the stores new credit card.  Maybe they get a bonus if they sell lots of cards.  Maybe it’s a job requirement and they’ll get fired if they don’t sell enough of them.

Whatever the case may be, somehow, the salesperson got motivated to sell you a card.  And there’s lots of things they might say.  They might tell you about the extra discount you’ll get if you sign up today.  Maybe they’ll tell you about how you can have whatever you want in the store– right now.  Maybe they’ll flash you a flirtatious grin, and maybe you’ll feel attractive if you’re credit passes their test. 

But no matter what words they choose, here’s what their words really mean:

“Sign up for our credit card.  Enjoy stuff today that you don’t really need.  Take as long as you want to pay it off.  In fact, we’d like you to just pay the minimum payments!  You want a $300 jacket– that’s great!  Just give us $30 a month– for the next 10 years.  Of course, you’ll have bought the jacket 10 times over.  By the time you’ve paid it off the jacket will be rotting in a dump somewhere– but you get to buy it today.  And the thousands of dollars you pay us in interest, that’s money you won’t have for other things.  You won’t have it for your kids college tuition, you won’t have it to buy something nice for your spouse, you won’t have it to feed the hungry… But hey, you get a really nice jacket out of the deal.”

There are all sorts of ways that a salesperson avoids saying those things.  But the words that come out of his mouth, they just don’t matter.     The words he says don’t matter, because they don’t represent the truth of the situation.

And so there are all kinds of ways that that somebody avoids saying “Let’s hide and kill someone.  Let’s ambush the innocent.  Let’s swallow them alive as the grave swallows its victims.”

Of course, nobody every uses those words.  They may not even realize that this is what they are doing.  But everytime we sin this is what we’re doing.  So as we think about these enticing sinners, I’m going to cast a really wide net.   I’m thinking about people outside of you and personality quirks inside of you.  I’m thinking past events and future experiences.  I’m thinking about good intentions and bad ones, I’m thinking about genocidal evil and sins that seem tiny and incidental.

 

I’d like to tell you a little story.  There was a little girl in the early 60’s.  It might tell you a little something about her to know that she was a member of her church choir and glee club.  Her mother had cancer and she brought the choir to her mother’s window so that they could sing to her while she was sick.   Years passed.  She met a charismatic man who played guitar in the house she found herself living in.  The house was raided.  She found herself homeless.  The guitar player invited her to come live with her.  She accepted his offer.

If I tell you that the woman’s name is Susan Atkins, you might know how the story ends.  If I tell you that the guitar player was named Charles Manson you might have an even better idea.  Atkins would go on to participate in nine murders with the Manson family.  Her death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

 

I am not here to claim that we shouldn’t thoroughly and completely hold her accountable for her decisions.  I am here to say that when she asked her friends in the chorus to go sing under her mom’s window, she probably never imagined where her life would take her.  Susan Atikins got involved with a certain group of people.  She lived her life by a certain set of rules.  She ended up doing things that no one should ever do.  She ended up living a life no one would ever want to experience.

 

Or consider another figure who once held promise.  His father was a Baptist minister.  He was president of his fraternity and college and went on to earn a doctorate in economics.  Years later he was one of the top-paid CEO’s in the world and was considered as a  possibility for Presidential Bushes treasury secretary.  The decisions he eventually made lead to what has been called “The biggest Fraud in corporate history” Stock in his company went from 90 dollars per share to fifty cents.  Lives were ruined and retirement funds were emptied as a result of his decisions.  He was convicted of a variety of charges but died of a heart attack before his sentencing.  His name was Keneth Lay.  He ran Enron during its collapse.

 

Again, I’m not interested so much in either praising or condemming him.  The thing I want to observe is that he once had everything going for him.  Then he made some lousy decisions.  It all fell apart.

 

 

And so I have to ask you a really tough question today: How are the sinners enticing you?  Are you able to see that the words they are using don’t matter?  Are you able to see where that path is going to get you?

I’m sure that no one is saying to you, “Let’s hide and kill someone!” But is somebody saying “You know what, everybody fudges their paperwork to get ahead.  That’s just how business is done.”  I’m sure that nobody is saying to  “Let’s ambush the innocent!  Let’s swallow them alive as the grave swallows its victims.” But maybe somebody says, through words or actions “When you act in anger and intimidate other people, you will get what you want out of life.”  I’m sure no one says  “Though they are in the prime of life, they will go down into the pit of death.”  But perhaps, just perhaps the never ending messages from society might penetrate through.  When all those commercials say “It’s just a web site, it’s just a picture, it’s just a harmless conversation.”  Maybe it’s becoming more and more easy to believe them. 

 

 

Marty, here’s the stuff I’m wondering if it’s too much… Maybe I should just pick 2 out of the 4 anecdotes here?  Maybe I don’t need any?

This stuff can be so subtle.  It can be so hard to weed out.

I know that there is another area I struggle in.  I know that I have this tendency to rationalize like I’m this mellow surfer guy, and that everything is going to be fine.  The problem is that I tell myself this even when everything is far from fine.

When I was like an eleven year old boy scout, we were putting on this thing for a fair.  It was supposed to be a demonstration of what to in the case of a third degree burn.  We were pretty twisted little boy scouts, and we had this book.  It was a special effect book written by this movie make-up artist.  There was this secion on how to make really cool burns.  His idea was that you start with a layer of candle wax on the area to simulate the burn, coat the wax with rubber cement, and then crumple charcoal atop the rubber cement.

The problem was that it somehow seemed like a good idea to do this on my face.  And let me tell you something: melting candlewax on a cheek doesn’t just simulate a burn.  It produces the real thing.

So we had the bright idea to just cut this whole step out.  We painted my cheek with rubber cement, crumpled in the charcoal, and I have to tell you: I was one realistic looking burn victim… In some ways we were smart kids.  But it didn’t occur to us to worry.

And when my cheek started to get warm from the chemicals, I just shrugged and wandered off.  I decided, somehow, that I’d be able to wash it off.

And when I found the bathroom, which did not have the mirror, I pulled it off, and it was a little uncomfortable, but still: I just didn’t quite get it.

When I saw the first person, freaked out that I’d peeled off the entire top layer of skin on my left side of my face, I finally got it.

 

On September 11th, 2001, I remember the first time I saw the footage of the burning World Trade Centers.  It was before the second tower even fell.  We had no idea who did it.   A number of the members of my family were home, at the time, and I remember walking past them, as they sat glued to the T.V.  I’m not proud to tell you that though I felt a little bad and a little confused, but mostly, I just wondered what the big deal was.

 

You know about three years ago, I broke up this fight.  I took a number of hits.  I ended up on the ground.  People were worried about me, but I told them I was fine.  Right after the fight, I planned on finishing up the day.  I’d eventually find out that I sprained my back.  This would lead to me spending nearly a month out of work.  When it rains, my back is still sore.

 

Most recently a couple weeks ago.  I received this call at my second job, a retail gig, Narnes and Boble.  My wife was telling me that my grandmother who is eldery was being moved to hospice care.  She had a sever respitory infection.  They’d discontinued the aniobiotics.  She was likely going to die.

And my brain started swimming and I stopped really processing the things she said.  I asked her to repeat things a couple times.  Part of me was just dying.

My wife won’t be surprised to hear that part of me was annoyed she was bugging me at work.  I was trying to just figure out a way to deal with it six hours later when I got off.  We weren’t sure that she’d be alive then.  But some part of me wanted to stay at this pointless, mininumum-wage earning job rather than go home and deal.

And maybe that last story is the most telling.  I wanted to stay there.  I wanted to stay away.  Part of me knew, because it was starting to shut down: my thoughts were running in circles and my arms were all goose pimply and my memory was playing back all these great memories of her, and my insecurities were broadcasting all my fears about how I’ve handled her aging and what I should have done differently.

But the common thread is this: these are all cases that I’m smart enough to be in touch with just how bad things were.  But there are sinners inside of me who want to deny it all.  And there are people outside of me who will conspire with this, who will tell me what I want to here, who will assist me in living in denial.

 

These are the sinners who entice me.  Who are the sinners who entice you?  Because the proverb is so right:  We are setting a trap for ourselves.  Jesus would later express this idea when he said “As you reap, so shall you sew.” But the idea is in here, already.  ” They set an ambush for themselves; they booby trap their own lives!”

Some people think about these ideas, and similar concepts in other belief systems like Karma, where the idea is that God is outside of us getting us back for the foolish things we do.

Maybe God works this way and maybe he doesn’t… but there is a more basic thing going on.  Mostly, God does need to.  Mostly, when we go down these paths, we grab just enough rope to hang ourselves with.

Whatever we bring to the party, that’s what we’re going to be using.  Whatever rules we try to live by, the rules will soon fill up our world.

If we live by violence then that violence will eventually come for us.  If we engage in deception we enter into a deceitful world where others will try to deceive us.  When we indulge unhealthy appetites, those appetites will grow so big that sooner or later, they will eat us.

We recognized it when I brought all that stuff with me on the stage a few minutes ago: whatever we bring, we’re going to end up using.  It’s really the same principle at work here.

10:11

My tendency to bury my head in the sand has lead to some bad stuff happening in my life.  Because I try to run away from truths the truths eventually rear their ugly heads when they are too big and out of control for me to deal with.

A while ago, I asked you a question.  I asked “Who are the sinners that entice you?” Now, I’d like to ask a couple follow up questions.  The first question is “What booby traps have already gone off in your face, as a result of the sinners who entice you?  The second is: What booby traps could go off in your future, if you don’t get off the path your walking, if you don’t find out a way to become bigger than the enticement that threatens you?”

(Play with fire in here, somewhere.)  So a while ago I told you I’d be using one of my little props.  This one is it. 

I’m actually not going to do anything very interesting with this fire.  I’m just a bit of a pyromaniac inside and I love looking at flames.

But the reality is that we all know what’s going to happen if I play with this fire long enough.  It’s so true that’s it’s a cliché: play with fire and you’re going to get burned.

 

 

Last week Pastor Marty challenged us to “Understand Why, submit, and apply.”  This passage of scripture illustrates what happens when we fail to do these things.

I think often times we act as though all our choices in life is the result of choosing between competing ideas.

But sometimes, the choice is between ideas on the one hand and thoughtless action on the other.

The enticing sinners don’t think.  They just do.  And they do things that aren’t very wise.  On the most literal level, they just start robbing people.  But if we extend this out and we apply it to ourselves, we realize that in the case of many dangerous roads, we often don’t stop to think at all.  We might jump along with others who are also not thinking.  But we don’t stop to think.

I didn’t stop to think before applying rubber cement to my face.  I didn’t stop to think what the smoking world trade center meant.  I didn’t stop to think that I might get hurt.

 

 

An expert on learning disabilities had this great description of students with AD/HD.  Sometimes, this description applies to all of us.  He says the mantra for these people is this: Ready!  Fire!  Aim!

Sometimes we live our lives this way: Ready?  Fire!  Aim!

This is significant.  The Hebrew for Sin is related to the term for missing the target.    We’ll never hit the target if we fire before we aim.  Understanding why, this is like aiming.

And if we don’t understand why, there is nothing for us to submit to.  I work with really troubled kids.  Gang kids.  Fatherless kids.  Motherless kids.  They are so terribly lost.

 

The problem is not that they have a wrong set of ideas about their lives.  It’s not like they have thought it and decided that deal drugs and being in a gang is in their best interest.  The problem is that they haven’t thought at all.  For them it was Ready?  Fire!  Aim.  Nobody ever approached them and used “Hey, let’s start stealing stuff, lets fill our homes with the loot.”  They just jumped into it… Ready?  Fire!  Aim.

 

For many of us our troubles seem less obvious than those kids.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  Because there are ways that I’m just like those kids.  There are ways that you are just like them.

It’s easy to think that is an unfair comparison.  It’s easy to think that our little problems don’t compare to the people speaking in the proverb.  Or that they don’t compare to gang kids dealing drugs and killing people.

In the short term, it’s quite likely that our smaller problems don’t.  But in the long term, if you’re aiming at a destination that’s even a little bit off, you will find yourself very lost.

 

 

Check this out.  In the short term, if I’m aiming for this spot on the wall and my aim is off just a little bit, I’m going to end up being pretty close.  But over the long haul, if my aim is off by that same amount, I end up being much further away from the target.

There’s a couple things that I hope you don’t hear me saying today.  When people start to talk about heading down the wrong path and life choices and things, it’s easy to turn it into a blame game.  It’s easy to hear that the guy talking is casting judgement on you.

And when we feel judged, it’s easy to in turn retreat away from the judge.  It’s easy to get further into the lousy decisions. 

I am here to say that we are all in this together.  I am here to ask you to call me out from the sinners who entice me.  I hope that you can become close enough with someone hear so that they’ll do it to you.

If your world is overwhelming, if you’re path is self destructive, I hope that you want do that thing that is so easy for me to do.  I hope you wont run away from the reality of your situation.  I hope that you won’t get so overwhelmed at solving your all your problems right now that you won’t just resume your autopilot and go back to the way things were.

 

What can you do right now.  That’s the thing to ask.  Right now.  Today.  This hour.  This afternoon.  What tiny little step are you going to take to get off the path your headed and toward the target you should be aiming for.  Right now.  What are you going to do right now.

Who will help you?  Who has been a hinderance to you? 

People are the problem as outlined in the proverb: the child is warned away from those who mean trouble.  But notice that people are the solution to.  King Solomon wants more than just for the child to turn his back on those who are bad news.  He wants his listeners to listen in on Good News.

 

When we are around others who are just doing before they think, who are just robbing or doing whatever it is that they do, it is easy for us to come along for the ride.  The place that they are aiming, it might be pretty close to where we are supposed to be.  Over the short term, it might not lead us quite so far from where we want to go.  We think that we’ll get off the bus before things go too wrong.

The thing is that I’d imagine that Keneth Lay and Susan Atkins never thought they would take their own busses as far as they did.  When my life has been at it’s very worst, I can guarenteee you I never thought things would get so bad.

What about you?  Have you ever woken up and said “When did all this start?  How did it come to this?  Given the direction you’re headed, do you think maybe you’re going to wake up some morning and ask those questions?

 Sometimes some part of me has known that bad stuff has been coming.  Sometimes I’ve atleast feared it.  I’ve worked so hard at not admitting all this to myself.

Our lives take on this inertia.  The things we do and say and think, these habits, they’ve got this weight to them.

I don’t know that I’ve ever changed anything meaningful in my life under my own power.  I am so thankful there is a power that’s greater than mine.  The people around me have  pointed me toward Jesus, they’ve reminded me and supported me and they’ve been examples to me.  And this is the only way I’ve ever really changed at all.

 

As the Small Group You’re probably expecting me to plug small groups here.  The truth is that these are great places to learn how to aim.  But they aren’t the only place.  I’m going to speak a little more broadly than just our small groups and simply say it’s so incredibly important that we find people who can help lead us toward wisdom.  It’s equally important that we’re aiming toward wisdom ourselves.  Not something close to wisdom, not something just a little bit off.   

The real focus of the verses we’re thinking about today is not how and who to follow, though, it’s how and who to avoid.  Next week, we’ll spend a lot more time on this subject.  I’m looking foreward to hearing and learning.

You know, the verses we’re talking about are pretty scary things.  But Solomon’s dad, David, he wrote some words that are a pretty good balm for this pessimism and despair.  Let’s read Proverbs, Chapter 1 Veses 8-20 one more time:

 

 

“My Child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them!  They may say “Come and join us.  Let’s hide and kill someone!  Let’s ambush the innocent!  Let’s swallow them alive as the grave swallows its victims.  Though they are in the prime of life, they will go down into the pit of death.  And the loot we’ll get!  We’ll fill our houses with all kinds of things!  Come on, throw in your lot with us; we’ll split our loot with you.”

“Don’t go along with them, my child!  Stay far away from their paths.  They rush to commit crimes.  They hurry to commit murder.  When a bird sees a trap being set it stays away.  But not these people!  They set an ambush for themselves; they booby trap their own lives!”

Let’s close with an antidote to that.  I wonder if you’ll Pray Psalm 23 with me:

 

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
       he leads me beside quiet waters,

 3 he restores my soul.
       He guides me in paths of righteousness
       for his name’s sake.

 4 Even though I walk
       through the valley of the shadow of death, [a]
       I will fear no evil,
       for you are with me;
       your rod and your staff,
       they comfort me.

 5 You prepare a table before me
       in the presence of my enemies.
       You anoint my head with oil;
       my cup overflows.

 6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
       all the days of my life,
       and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
       forever.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

One thought on “The Sermon”

  1. i think i have a tendency to do that same thing..
    hide and ignore problems and hope they go away so i dont have to deal with them

    i was the same way w/ the WTC bombings.. it didn’t affect me personally.. so why care

    Like

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