13 August 2017
My Non- Sermon
“At Cross Purposes: What does it really mean to “take up your cross?”
by Colleen Fay, Th. M.
I’m not going to preach the very nice sermon I’d written. The subject’s too important and we’d all stop listening after 10 minutes anyway. So, off the cuff, here goes:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, O God, my rock and my redeemer.
My yoke is easy, my burden is light” “take up your cross and follow me” ”Love one another as I have loved you.” “Everyone who acknowledges me, I will acknowledge before our Father in heaven; everyone who denies me, I will deny before my Father in heaven.”
1. What is “His Yoke?” His Cross?” First it is to Love God with your whole heart, your whole soul and your whole strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. AND never, ever to deny that you are doing it because this is the new Commandment of Jesus.
2. Second, let me make this crystal clear: “your cross” or “Jesus’s yoke” as absolutely nothing to do with suffering. If it did, only Christians would suffer, and that’s nonsense. It DOES have everything to do with this radical kind of loving that Jesus is talking about. It’s like no other loving that’s ever been talked about anywhere before or since: that special love that will make you offer your own life if necessary for someone you love. This kind of love is so radical, it would make a sailor blush.
3. How do you love God? Well, if you don’t love the persons you can see, you don’t love the God you can’t see. Be kind – genuinely kind, be considerate. You’ve heard all those things that love is: love is patient, doesn’t boast, etc. Make those ideas concrete realities. Do it right here, right now! Make sure your company includes units for low- or middle-income people in its next project. Take a stand, for God’s sake! Look that street person in the eye and smile at her; shake her hand. Cut out the sarcasm and the snarky remarks. Period. Start doing it today, Stop spreading trashy rumors on FaceBook or anywhere else.
4. How do you love other people? Oh, you’re not a touchy-feely type, so you think you’re off the hook? Wrong. Men: you’ve always thought about love in terms of loving actions. Women: we’ve always thought about love in terms of loving feelings first.
5. Well, men put the loving feeling into those loving actions – a thousand acts of kindness towards your nearest and dearest. Think of what they would like most; put that first. Get out of your “I – me – I” masculine shell. Gay guys, this applies to you, too. Women: the feeling part is great, but the actions have to measure up to it. The love has to reach the other person where they are and not just where you want then to be, where you wish they were. Both women and men should become known as “lovers” in this way.
6. We are supposed to love each other in the church – THE Christian community in such an outstanding way that other people will take notice. The Church is our “Love School.” No back-biting, no behind-the-scenes “churchy” battles. NO! This is THE laboratory in which we practice on each other the radical kind of love – the washing each other’s feet kind of love – that you don’t see in the outside world. No easy-peasy Hallmark Card kind of love, but the real take-it-to-the-mat kind of love you don’t find anywhere else. This is the “lay down your life for each other love.” Are we really doing that? Ask yourself: Are you really committing yourself to doing that? If not, why not? We should be loving each other so fiercely that this UNMC church should be glowing with it so they could see it from outer space.
7. “No good deed goes unpunished.” News Flash: loving acts are acts of virtue -virtue is its own reward. Do as many of those love-filled acts as you can anonymously. God who sees in secret, sees all and will reward you. You are storing up treasures for yourself in a much better place than this.
8. Don’t equivocate. I’m a lousy Christian. Maybe you are too. It doesn’t matter. God didn’t send Jesus into the world because we were doing such a spiffy job of it, now did he? Woman up!! Man up!! Stop being ashamed to be called a follower of Jesus. If you expect the world to give you a round of applause, you came to the wrong place.
9. GOD IS ON YOUR SIDE. BECAUSE GOD IS, THIS “YOKE,” THIS “CROSS” IS EASY TO CARRY. GOD WILL NEVER LET YOU DOWN. NOW DON’T LET GOD DOWN EITHER.