So, I’m really loving this series I’m preaching right now and so I thought I’d share this week’s with you. I think I’ll start sharing them weekly if you’re interested. Here is the whole worship service if you’d like to watch it or you can just read the sermon below.
The scripture reference is Psalm 16:7-11
“Beguiled by Beauty” Week 2
Our scripture this morning, reminds us that we are the beloved of the Beloved, the beloved of God. We are God’s children, and are so loved. God is always there with us, guiding us, supporting and strengthening us. God shows us the way and moves us into action.
This week I was introduced to new way of looking at forgetfulness and sin. It’s quite interesting and I want to share it with you but first, will you please pray with me?
May the words of my mouth and the meditations all of our hearts and minds be acceptable to you, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.
So I read this week that sin is really a form of forgetfulness… It’s us forgetting who we are, who God is. It is forgetting our connection to God. Forgetfulness, or sin, is a kind of separation from God.
Our scripture, again, reminds us of that connection. It reminds us of his constant presence and love for us, all of us.
We suffer from this type of forgetfulness in a lot of different ways. Sin, but also through grief, loneliness, pain, fear, hate, injustice and the list goes on… but our series tells us that contemplative practices invite us into union with God, healing the wounds of forgetfulness.
In our congregation, we have those who are suffering in many areas. We have many who are grieving and in this time of social distancing, it can seem even harder and make the loneliness even worse. We have many who are suffering from illnesses and pain.
We are experiencing a world full of hurt right now. A world full of hate, injustice, and absolutes – and it’s coming at us from all sides!
If we aren’t careful, all of this can overwhelm us and send us to the depths of despair. As humans, we tend to have negativity bias. It’s easy to fall into the role of a “Negative Nellie”. Those negative things are usually easier to remember than the positive for some reason. Maybe it’s a way of trying to protect ourselves from repeats. But this negative thinking can separate us from God and also from one another, so we have to try to keep it in check. One way to do this is through contemplative practices.
Now, I’m not saying that if we practice contemplation that we won’t feel all the negative stuff anymore. NOT AT ALL. What I am saying is that these practices and can help us to remember who we are and more importantly, who God is and who we are to him.
What can we do to help us remember? It looks different for all of us. Maybe for some it’s singing hymns, playing an instrument, or working out in the yard or garden, maybe it’s meditation or exercise. Maybe it’s long walks in nature or sitting by the window watching the birds and squirrels play. Maybe it’s reaching out to friend in need. Maybe it’s focusing our attention on the needs of someone else. The list is as vast as the sky above. Sometimes we need to stop and look around and see God all around us. Look around and see those around us who could use our help. Look around and contemplate God and his love for us.
Now, I’m not saying we should ignore the other stuff. I bet many of you can’t ignore the pain you are experiencing in your bodies, or the grief you are feeling in your hearts but when we focus on others or on God and all of his creation we find that for just a little while, the pain eases.
I’m not saying we should ignore the injustice we see happening right now, the racism that has been occurring in our world is very real. It is and we need to face it head on and work towards change. We can’t look the other way. We can’t pretend it’s not happening or that it isn’t real. We can’t think, well, I’m not racist, it’s not me, or it’s not happening to me so there’s nothing I need to do. We all need to be acting right now. We all need to be working for change, in society as a whole but also in ourselves. We have to take a good look at ourselves and remember who we are and who those around us are. Remember that we are ALL God’s children and look within to see what changes we can make in ourselves, what actions we can take ourselves to end this terrible thing called racism. What we can do ourselves to bring a little of the kingdom of heaven here on earth. To quote a Michael Jackson song, Start with the [person] in the mirror.
To help us get started with this, I am reading a book called “White Fragility- why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism” by Robin Diangelo. I want to make a change within myself and I’m starting with education and want to invite all of you to do the same. If are interested, you can get this book in most bookstores, or at Amazon. You can get it a little cheaper if you get it for your digital device or app such as the Kindle or Nook and then we can read it together and make time to discuss it. Let me know if you’d be interested in this and we will get it going.
I think this systemic racism our country has been experiencing for years… well, forever… is a sin, it is this kind of forgetfulness we have been talking about. It is a separation from God and in order for us to fully be reconciled with God, we need to take action and remember who God is, who we are, beloved ones of the Beloved. Beloved ones of God. Beautiful creations of God. Amen.