Editor’s Note: I am not a preacher or pastor, nor am I ordained or have I been to seminary. As a Lay Leader I am called on from time to time to fill in at various churches.
Second Sunday after Pentecost (June 7, 2015)
Prayer for the sick
Be with these whose names have been mentioned this morning. Ease their suffering and their burdens. Lift our hearts when we are low. Remind us you are always there with us. Be with our annual conference. Be with them Lord and place wisdom in their midst. Be with the people of Texas as they clean up the aftermath of such terrible floodings. Be with the West coast as they struggle under the worst drought in years. Lord, you are with us In our triumphs and in our darkest hours. You love us and care for us. You are there even when we turn away from you. Calling us to come back to the fold. And you put these words before us in the form of your prayer -Our Father…
Thank you for this opportunity to give back to you a portion of what you have blessed us with. May it go to your purpose and will.
Titus 3:1-11 NIV
Saved in Order to Do Good
3 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.
Titus 3:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Maintain Good Deeds
3 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show every courtesy to everyone. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water[a] of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.6 This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is sure.
I desire that you insist on these things, so that those who have come to believe in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works; these things are excellent and profitable to everyone. 9 But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 After a first and second admonition, have nothing more to do with anyone who causes divisions, 11 since you know that such a person is perverted and sinful, being self-condemned.
The Word of God for the People of God, thanks be to God.
How many of us have brothers or sisters? Have they ever made you crazy? It is one of the amazing things about Facebook. Now your brother and sister can disparage you in a Facebook status message. This is how a friend of mine’s family does it. When they are mad at it other they will update their Facebook status talking about how mean some people are. They won’t post names but they will dance around the issue that is currently going on. I ask him if this bothered him. He said it used to but not any more. His older sister just loves drama and stirring things up and if you can accept that, then it is just them. He said the way he gets her back is he goes and “Likes” her Facebook status.
A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to “honor thy father and thy mother,” she asked,”Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?”
Without missing a beat one little boy answered, “Thou shalt not kill.”
Brothers and sisters can make us crazy. They will argue with us about the silliest things and stay mad at you for days, weeks, or even longer.
My wife’s mom passed away a few months ago. My wife has always been close to her mom. She called her mom almost every night to check on her. But her brothers and sisters who lived much closer to their mom were often estranged from their mom and rarely visited. Because my wife was so close to her mom, there was some jealousy. And now that their mom is gone some infighting. Not over anything in particular it seems, the siblings are just mad at each other.
My family has gone through a rough patch of late. It happens in every house, it is as if you have a target on your back. Work is rough, home is rough. Family members sick. Death in the family. The wise seek out God during times like this and the foolish run from God. I did. I pulled away from God for a bit. We all do.
Churches go through rough patches too. Do you think churches pull away from God? It happens. We are brothers and sisters in this church. We are all a part of the Christian community. And we squabble among ourselves. Denominations argue over their different doctrines. Sprinkle or submerge? Open table or members only. Annual Conference starts today and there will be squabbling there in our own Denomination. Disagreements over various topics, some of which mean nothing and some that are very significant to the wellbeing of our church. And even in our building right here there can be disagreements and squabbles.
In Matthew 18:21-22 Jesus tells us how to deal with our blood kin and our Christian brothers.
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
My friend Jeff was mad at his sister for a long time. I told him one day, being mad at her is a waste of time. She doesn’t feel it and it eats you up inside. He eventually forgave her.
Now I have met people who like to just stay mad. They are made at others, often the world, and lastly themselves. I have even met some who I think just like being mad at somebody. You have met these people haven’t you? You stay away from them if you can. But it is hard to do if you are closely kin to them. Is it just my opinion but it seems angry people live the longest.
My grandfather on my dad’s side was a mean man. I didn’t witness him being as mean as some have said. He started fights with people and cussed people out. Growing up he threatened me a lot but he never hit me or cussed me. But when he came down with Parkinson’s Disease, he mellowed out. I wouldn’t wish Parkinson’s on anyone but he was such a nicer person to those around him. It is like he forgot to be mad.
I wish we could do that without having to suffer from what my grandfather did. Could we perhaps just forget how to be mad? We all have different styles of getting anger too. There is the slow simmering anger. It is like a pressure cooker. It builds up steam slowly and then it releases it all at once. Then there is silent anger. You didn’t even know this person was mad at you but when you find out, wow. And this could have been going on for hours, days, weeks, and in extreme cases, years. Then there is the blow up. It is like someone has set the match head on fire and it burns out quick and it is over. The next minute they are perfectly fine and it is over. What type of mad are you when you get angry? Are you mad at someone right now? Is it time to forget to be mad? Is it time to forgive?
My wife and I rarely fight. Rare. I have learned over the years to pick my battles. Now sometimes I slip up and pick the wrong one but there are so many things in life where a decision one way or another is not going to kill you. Husbands, if your wife wants to paint the wall pink and you want to paint it blue, neither color will cause the world to end or shorten your life. So what does it matter? When Donna and I fight, it is always about silly stuff. The other day my wife and I both had rotten days at work. We get paid every two weeks so every payday we usually go out to eat somewhere. You ever have where you couldn’t agree where to go eat? There are some restaurants I don’t like, not many mind you because my stomach is a free agent. But if I had a bad experience or if they don’t do well keeping the place clean, I am not a fan. But for some reason the other night we could not agree. For those of you with smart phones, there is a free app, Urban Spoon, out there that will put local restaurants on a roulette wheel and you can use that to choose. It lets you set the dollar amount first and why style of food and off it goes. It might have been a good night to use that app.
Sometimes there are squabbles in the church. So and So has made rules. They aren’t written down anywhere. There wasn’t a committee meeting to decide but somehow everybody knows there are rules and we had better follow them or we will make Mr. So and So made. Mrs. So and So says the table clothes have to always been white in the Fellowship Hall. Does it hurt anything? No, some of these rules or let’s call them guidelines seem like good ideas to me. But sometimes our self imposed guidelines cause others to falter. If by sticking to a rule we are going to cause someone to have evil thoughts and be led away from God, our rules have caused harm.
Romans 14: 1-3 New International Version (NIV)
The Weak and the Strong
14 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.
Don’t let trivial matters tear apart relationships or even churches. Go to whoever you have a quarrel with and one on one talk to them about it. Settle your differences. If you can not, give it to God. If it is too small of a matter to give to God, it is too small of a matter to worry about. Remember our Church is a hospital for Souls to heal. If we are divided, we can help heal no one. The same is true in our families. If one is mad at the other, it divides our families and we miss out on the joy of one another. So when you leave here today, if you are mad at someone, seek them out. Resolve it before the Sun goes down.
Let us Pray.
Thank you for this blessed building that is yours. If any quarrel between us and any brother or sister stops us from being faithful to you, we can not truly be yours. We miss out on being a blessing to others on your behalf Lord. Help us to seek your healing and help us to seek Joy through you. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.