Sermon Summary: Speak Up, Week 2

Sermon Summary: Sitting in church one day, I wondered how I could improve retaining and acting upon the sermons our minster preaches. I decided that I could summarize them here which would help me remember them and create a log of them. Hopefully, I will be able to do this weekly (baring traveling, sickness, or bad weather) so that I can do a better job at intentionally living.

As a reminder, our pastor is currently preaching the sermon series Speak Up, which is defined on our church's website as:

When do we as Christians speak up for our faith, our morals and our principles? What are we to say in a political setting? A neighborhood setting? Join us for the next three weeks as we explore what it means to share our Christian beliefs while we also respect and honor the views and beliefs of others.

This week dealt with Christians and Injustice. It used Isaiah 58:6-12 as its primary focus but did reference other verses, too. It made many people uncomfortable, and it even solicited a few "amens" from the congregation which is rare from us somber Methodists.

He started by giving a background to Isaiah 58: 6-12: The people of God were frustrated with Him because he hadn't been noticing their humility. God's response acknowledged their fasting and worshipping but chided them about the injustice he was still seeing in their community. They were told that to please God, they needed to be worshipful and fasting while also fixing the injustice they were causing/allowing. 

What is justice and injustice?
From the scripture, then, we are supposed to recognize that injustice makes God unhappy. But, what is Justice and what is Injustice? To answer this question, our pastor used a woven blanket as visual aid to make his points.

1. Justice can be summarized into one word: Shalom. This means peace, but not just the peace that means the absence of war and hatred. It means peace in the sense of wholeness. The woven blanket, free of holes and tears, represents the completeness of the peace of Shalom. 

If, instead of the blanket, the 6000 strings used to make the blanket were on the altar, then those 6000 strings would be almost useless in keeping someone warm. Americans often think of ourselves as the strings which is referred to as an individualistic society. In Jesus' time, and in other societies currently, the communities viewed themselves as a collective. Therefore, the blanket existed and not the strings. The heroes were the community and not the persons of the community. 

2. Injustice is the lack of wholeness in the community. He brought out a second blanket that was torn, cut, and ripped to show how the blanket lost its purpose as a blanket and, therefore, was incomplete. The unity of peace was absent because of injustice.

Where do we start to deal with injustice in America?
Since there are tears all over the blanket of the world, where on earth do we begin to tackle the injustices that make God unhappy? Scripture has several themes of injustice repeat themselves throughout the new and old testaments:

Widows (Elderly)
Foreigners (Sojourners)

When the fabric of the blanket is ripped in the areas of injustice, God is unhappy, regardless of if you're a liberal or conservative. He gave the example of the health care debate. On one side of the debate are people saying we must have healthcare for the sick. On the other side of the debate are people saying we have to have a way to pay for health care because if we can't pay for it, we will cause debt (causing many other injustices). Each side is entrenched and polarized. Both sides have struggled with how to overcome the political labeling to have a conversation in order to make progress in the discussion. 

Only through having a civilized discussion can a solution be thought of, and only through coming up with ways to make the injustices just will we please God. By assaulting the opposition, the effective communication ceases and the injustice remains. 

Why does God talk about those injustices?
Jesus experienced those injustices while he was on earth:
1. He was born into a feed trough (shelter)
2. He became truly homeless when his parents fled their home to avoid the king's order to kill the first born (shelter and a foreigner)
3. During his ministry he has nothing and relies on others for food, drink, and shelter (strangers, hunger, thirst, shelter) 
4. He's thrown in prison, and while there, he is beaten, naked, and unjustly tried (prison, naked, sick)
5. When he's put on a cross to die, he cries out for something to drink (thirst)
6. When he is dying, he looks at his widowed mother and tells her that his disciple is her son (elderly/widow).

Through this suffering and death, he used his "golden thread of divinity" (cited from a scholar and referencing the blanket above) to repair the blanket that was ripped from sin and circumstance through redemption.

What do we do with this?
Well. This is the tricky part. 

1. From last week's sermon, we understand the need to communicate as a Christian: to use civil discourse. 
2. From this week's sermon, we learn that we need to address the issues of injustice and that we can start by looking at the one's mentioned in scripture. 

We can overcome the dividing political structure, which is sometimes hindering the problem solving, by recognizing our calls as Christians to fix injustice and use civil discourse to accomplish this. In other words, by calling ourselves Christians, we are responsible to stand up for what God calls us to do in a way that he calls us to do it despite the politically and media induced polarization.

A major theme I recognized in both of these sermons is this: it's harder to change than to not change. It's harder to fight the fight using civil discourse because so many around us are not using civil discourse. It's harder to do something about the countless injustices in our world than to just talk about them. 

So as the minister said, maybe the sermon series should be Speak Up and Show Up.

No comments: