“…who can make straight what God has made crooked?” (Ecclesiastes 7:13)
A sermon on the winding paths down which God leads us, especially with our sisters and brothers who are on the margins, outside the law, despised, rejected, and persecuted. A sermon for Christians. A sermon for those who are called to follow Jesus. A sermon to end hate. We are called to a different Way.
At the time of this post, more than 701 acts of hate have been reported in the United States in the last two weeks, a dramatic escalation from the months prior to the 2016 Presidential Election. Learn more here.
Preached on Sunday, November 20, 2016 at Landrum Presbyterian Church,
on Proverbs 3:5-6:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.”
and John 14:6:
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way…'”
The sermon may be heard here:
From the sermon:
“We follow a Way
that is narrow,
winding & difficult–
that by the world’s standards
seems lost, weak, inconvenient, and dangerous.
“But it is the Way,
the Way to which we are called,
& we follow.
“Imagine Saul who became Paul. Saul was the perfect seminary student, prepared for religious leadership, sanctioned by religious authority. He was taught what was right, including who to hate, who to hurt, even who to kill. He was authorized by state and religious authority to hate. He learned that to be good and righteous meant to hate, hurt, despise, persecute, and even kill–because people outside of his belief system and community were different, and therefore wrong, and therefore blasphemous, and therefore worthy of rejection and punishment.
“See how distorted our paths of righteousness become.”
“Saul took the path of righteousness straight to Damascus to persecute those he knew were wrong–to commit hate crimes sanctioned by state and religious authority.
“But his path turned in a very different way.
“He encountered the God who calls us to a different path,
especially to love those on the margins, who are outcast, who are rejected–
as Jesus himself was.
“Paul was called to a different way,
the Way of following Jesus,
the Way of Truth & Life & Love.
“And Paul came to preach & teach that there is no difference that God does not love,
that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
“Paul was called to a way that veered far from all he had been taught,
a winding and narrow path
straight to the heart of God.”
“That is the way to which we are called
whatever we were taught,
whatever we have seen,
whatever we believe,
“Jesus gives us a way–himself–to follow,
the way of Love that stands with all
who are cast out,
suspect, and persecuted.”
More about the clergy group that organized a pilgrimage of solidarity throughout the City of Greenville, SC may be found here.