Sunday, October 23, 2011

I-man-yoo-el . . . I-man-yoo-us . . God with us . . . us with each other . . .

A Sermon Cliff-Note

On Shelter . . .

The shelter of the church is not for the worthy; it’s for the needy.  This is grace.  So it is that we can proclaim:

I stood outside of doors just like these for a very long time, waiting until I was ‘good enough’ to come in, until one day, it finally occurred to me that if I waited until I was good enough to join you, I never would.  The God-whisper Holy Spirit moment came when I realized that I didn’t have to be.
There is always room for more. . . more hypocrites . . . more broken folk . . . more liars and cheats and thieves . . . more of the sick and more of the proud . . . more just like us.
Here you can find your shelter, your rest.

On Nurture . . .

The Bible is uplifting and troubling, challenging and confusing, God’s word made clear and sometimes made very obscure.
There are people around the world who are starving for what we have so easily available to us: the Bible, books about the Bible and people of faith, books about important stories, of how we humans struggle to be better than we are: how we succeed and how we fail.
Our presbytery is in a wonderful partnership with churches in Ethiopia and one of the vital new ministries there is filling library shelves with books for children.  Mettu Library Book Drive
You can help bring reading to children who otherwise might never have that opportunity, that they might be nurtured as you have already been.
On Spiritual Fellowship. . . 

Religion is for people afraid of going to hell.
Spirituality is for people who have already been there.

Our experiences of ‘hell on earth’, whether self-inflicted or not, often take us beyond the surface of things, into the space of deeper connection to our fellow human beings and to our God.
In the middle of hell, right smack dab in the middle of all that life can throw at you, there is heaven. . . I see it in your faces and in your hearts.

On Resting Into It . . . 

It’s hard work, this business of being in spiritual fellowship, of providing nurture and shelter.  How much easier it is when we remember that it’s not up to us.
To quote priest Oscar Romero, “We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete. . . We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. . . We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.  It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.”

A Credo Making Sense of It All. . . 


1. This is an excerpt from the second sermon in a series on the Great Ends of the Church.  This sermon is addressed to:  The shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God.
2. The first two slides came from a self-described atheist’s slide show.  Let me know if credits are due, as I can’t recall the site.  The quote, “Religion is for. . .” is variously attributed to Bonnie Raitt and Alcoholics Anonymous.  I was turned on to the last slide, In this house . . . in a FB entry by friend Chris Scott.  Thanks Chris for the credo!
3. Shout-out to Rev. Liz Crumlish of the Church of Scotland for the Oscar Romero quote.  (I borrowed it shamelessly!)  Check out Liz’s great blog at Liz-Vicar of Dibley


  1. YES...YES?..YES.....this seems so obvious but some churchs do not seem to understand...thank you ann

  2. maybe those are the folks who've had the easy lives? Just guessing :-) I'm w/ you - it seems obvious.

  3. Logged on to write a post about this OR quote - it is travelling alongside me this week, comforting me and convicting me.

  4. Challenging man, challenging quote, but I'm mostly receiving the great liberating comfort he speaks of - being prophets of futures not our own, it's such a blessing to rest into the reality that it is NOT all, or even mostly, up to us. Doing my part, one day, one step, at a time - that is challenge enough!

  5. Great post, Beth. Love the religion vs. spirituality quote--and the green sign, too!

  6. Thanks Patti - the funniest part for me was that the green sign came from an atheist site & when I read it, I thought - exactly!