Sermon at New Song Community Church. 9-29-19, on Luke 15 and I John 4:7-12
Yesterday I preached at New Song, our church. I don’t preach there very often, but it’s our home church and I preach there as a part of the body, not as a “guest preacher.” I’ve also preached there, once in a while, for around 15 years now. It is home.
This one was good. I’ve learned that how I feel about a sermon afterward is a limited and often skewed perspective. I felt a little wonky after I preached–yes, that is a technical sermon-assessment term taught in most seminaries)–in no small part because Kim wasn’t there to squeeze my hand and tell me “Good job” or “It’s okay,” as the situation requires, as she has been for about 85% of my sermons.
But the feedback I got afterward, and having a day’s distance to re-evaluate, convinces me that God did a lot more than I realized.
Of course, that’s a laughably massive understatement, in the sense that God always does so much more than I can see, including often working through me in spite of me and my fumblings. God is good and grace is greater.
But I’m also celebrating this one because I’ve been more or less a mess since I moved back from Nicaragua and this felt like I’m finding me. Not “finding me again,” not going back to the me who left for Nicaragua is 2011, nor the shellshocked semi-monk who moved back in 2018, but the me God has been healing and piecing back together and reconstructing through the whole journey. It’s been a messy process for me to figure out how I’m walking with Jesus now. It always is. Jesus is faithful and I’m finding my stride again, as this “me.”
Most importantly, I’m remembering and relearning what it means that Jesus loves me. Hope this helps you know, too.
PS The random laughter you’ll hear came because I was using a music stand for my manuscript and it kept lowering, imperceptibly but determinedly, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to adjust it. The fourth or fifth time it became pretty funny.
4 thoughts on “Without Love, Where Would You Be Now?”
Yesterday I claimed I am the older brother. After listening to “the rest of the story,” (which was quite good BTW) I should revise my statement to “I am sometimes kind of like the older brother.”
But as we do with all parables, we look at the place where it stops making sense – and there is the moment at which God pokes into the story. So to say I’m the older brother and I know God loves me, is simply to reiterate that God loves the worst of us.
The genius of Jesus’ story is so deep. At first, we think the younger son is the bad guy of the story. Then we realize the older brother is the bad guy. Then we realize God’s love tramples over all the bad guys. All the bad guys.
All the bad guys. The father keeps right on inviting them in. That’s really the point.
Where would you be now? Perhaps on Toulouse Street? In China Grove? Busted Down Around O’Connelly Corners? Chinatown? Rio? The choices are many!
Almost certainly I’d be on a Slow Train Running.
No, wait. I am on a Slow Train Running. And Taking It To the Streets.
At least I’m trying. IJF, indeed.