Friday, August 26, 2016

The Sabbath's Not Made for a Mask [FT Sermon August 21, 2016]

Now Jesus was teaching in one of the [Lutheran Churches] 
on the sabbath. 

And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. 

She was bent over 
and was quite unable to stand up straight. 

When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, 
"Woman, you are set free from your ailment." 

When he laid his hands on her, 
immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 

But the leader of the [Church], 
indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, 
kept saying to the crowd, 

"There are six days on which work ought to be done; 
come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day."  

But the Lord answered him and said, 

"You hypocrites! 

Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 

And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?"  

When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

-Luke 13:10-17

[Recap of last week's sermon: the church is made up of the least, the last, and the lost, who gather despite their crosses, within and without; despite the shame thrown at them by their families and their former friends. As they faced their crosses, together, they found no longer shame, no longer pain alone, but healing, hope, Resurrection.]

[Ask Volunteer: Wear a MASK!]
The word in Greek used to mean 'hypocrite' is a word that
means also 'stage actor,' one who wears a mask!
(Thanks to Sam from the youth group from Faith Homewood
for sporting this sweet camel mask!)

See, here’s comes a problem: 
over time, this is what happened: 

over time, some of the least, some of the last, some of the lost,
some of those who had been fed and healed, 
and now were doing the the “right things,”
feeding and healing and helping those who were in need just like they had once been not too long ago… 

Overtime, because they had been healed, 
because they overcame their shame, 
because they came out and came alive as Children of the Way, 
as oppressed, bullied, bruised, beaten down, but no longer ashamed,
but instead, Resurrecting in the faces of their crosses, 
because they had experienced Resurrection, 
because they were getting better,

they started to think that they were 
better than those who were newly seeking resurrection.

They started to think that they were no longer the least, the last, and the lost, just because they were getting better now, just because they were “saved.” 

And they even started to judge and even exclude those who were still on the journey!

They forgot that they were saved, healed, Resurrected, whatever… not by their own virtue, 
but in spite of it, 
not because they were better than anyone, 
but because they need saving (just like everyone else)—they were saved not because they were super-special, but because they need saving. 

That’s sort of how Grace works. 

But they started to forget that. 

Sometimes we come to church so much that we forget we  need help. 
We put our Sunday’s best on, we dress up, “dress for success…” 
We put on a show, sometimes, as if, underneath, we weren’t still bruised, still recovering from life’s circumstances… 

As if we weren’t still hurting… 

Sometimes we get so used to pretending that everything is fine, 
[“How ya doing??? Fine, fine, fine!!!”]
that maybe we even start to believe it, 
that we are ok, that we don’t need love anymore, 
that we don’t need community, 
or healing, 
or even God. 

When we do this, (of course) 
we are being hypocritical—the way Jesus uses it. 

And buy that I mean that word in the Greek sense. 

The word used for 'hypocrite' in Greek is the word for “stage actor”

or someone who wears a mask on stage, in a play. 

When Jesus says to the man in todays story, “hypocrite,” he’s not simply yelling insults, 
making to feel bad the guy that made someone else to feel bad… 

but he’s calling out the guy who (like many of us) put on his Sunday’s best to avoid showing his scars, to pretend he wasn’t in need of God’s love, of community, of healing. 

And in the process forgot that healing and Resurrection are what the Sabbath is all about.  

And in the process forgot that healing and Resurrection are what the Sabbath is all about. 

“Mask-wearer,” Jesus said, “take off your mask!”

You’re not here because you are holy or perfect. 

Nobody is. 

We’re all here because we are in need. We’re all here in need of God. 

Despite the suit and the smile,
the makeup and the well-behaved children, 

You, too, are the least, the last, and the lost;
you, too, are called to communion, 
to community, 
to solidarity with these people, your family in faith, 

the least, the last, and the lost.

Mask wearer, take off your mask, so you, too, can be healed. 

We’re all possessed by fears, 
by shame, 
by doubt,
by pain—
all of us!
Even if we’ve been people of faith for 50 years—all of us!

That’s human

but when we come together
where two or more gather, Jesus says

here is God, present among us. 

Pain is human.

To come together, regardless, 

that’s divine. 


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