Infinite PossibilitiesPosted: November 13, 2016
SLIDE 3: HEALING AFTER THE ELECTION
We have just finished one of the most bizarre election cycles in American political history. The electioneering was no holds barred, sink as low as you can go, conjuring up hate filled images inciting fear and division. Now that the voting is over we have a long way to go to put our nation back together again. We have a President and congress that will have to govern and they might not get along with each other. And we might wonder how long our government can continue without finding some common ground for addressing major issues like the budget, the national debt, climate change, health care and employment.
SLIDE 4: NEW JERUSALEM
On this Sunday after election-day the lectionary lifts up the 65th chapter of the prophet Isaiah. This passage is drawn from the portion of the text that is commonly referred to as Third Isaiah, probably written by an unknown author after Babylon had been conquered by the Persians, and Cyrus had allowed the Jews to return to Israel. This prophet was writing to inspire Jews to return and rebuild Jerusalem holding out the promise of a new and Holy City that would be blessed by God:
I’m creating new heavens and a new earth. All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain are things of the past, to be forgotten. Look ahead with joy. Anticipate what I’m creating: I’ll create Jerusalem as sheer joy, create my people as pure delight. I’ll take joy in Jerusalem, take delight in my people: No more sounds of weeping in the city, no cries of anguish; No more babies dying in the cradle, or old people who don’t enjoy a full lifetime; One-hundredth birthdays will be considered normal — anything less will seem like a disappointment.
SLIDE 5: VISION OF INFINITE POSSIBILITIES
Of course this vision of a New Jerusalem is an ideal, a hope, some would say a pipe dream. But maybe what we need right now in the wake of this most recent election is an infusion of hope a reclaiming of our nation as a people of infinite possibilities. Who would have believed when John Kennedy announced we would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade that our nation would actually accomplish that goal, and Huntsville of all places would play a major role in making that pipe dream happen?
SLIDE 6: INFINITE POSSIBILITIES IF GOD IS STILL SPEAKING
So let me invite you today to consider some infinite possibilities for our nation based on the values we are developing in this congregation at the Sharing Table. Like our Pilgrim ancestors, who sailed across the Atlantic seeking to create a New Jerusalem in the Wilderness of America, we lift up the words of the Pilgrim Pastor John Robinson, “Do not rely upon ancient formulations of faith and truth, for God has yet more light and truth to break forth from His Holy Word.” One of the values we can embrace that can open up infinite possibilities for our nation is “God is still speaking.” We are not stuck with a fundamentalist interpretation of any sacred texts, whether it is the Torah, the Quran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Sutras, or the New Testament. God is still speaking and for those who cultivate an open mind, new understandings of the divine will open up as we learn to live together and respect each other – all faiths living together in peace.
SLIDE 7: DISAGREE PEACEFULLY
We don’t all have to agree. Indeed at the Sharing Table of Jesus wherever two are gathered there will be three opinions. We proved that for our confirmands, when we all shared our answers to the Great Questions Questionnaire. On many of the questions people chose radically different answers, and some folks even wrote their own unique answers to the question. But even when we disagreed, we disagreed without bullying or threatening one another, and we can still live in peace, embracing one another as part of the same spiritual fellowship.
SLIDE 8: REOPENING OUR CULTURE TO SCIENCE
By embracing God is still speaking we can reopen our culture to science. The religious right has spent so much time and energy denying science, even vilifying scientific inquiry that our nation has begun to lag in scientific and technological achievement. Infinite possibilities open up, when we begin to apply science to our modern problems like climate change and green energy. We can also encourage further exploration in outer space and under the sea. Exploring space costs money, but think of all the benefits we realized by sending astronauts to the moon. We invented computers, made incredible breakthroughs in materials science, advanced meteorology, mapping of the earth, GPS satellites and communications. All because we dared to invest in scientific discovery, that repaid the investment many times over.
SLIDE 9: REACH OUT TO EXPLORE AND DISCOVER
We need to begin boldly going where human beings have never gone before again, because that is who we are. The human spirit seeks to reach out to explore and discover. We need a quest for new knowledge and achievement beyond the accumulation of money and power. God has planted in the human heart the desire to reach into the great beyond, and as we pursue that immense journey we will find answers to many of our problems.
SLIDE 10: COMMUNITY OF AFFIRMATION
At the Sharing Table of Jesus no matter who we are, or where we are on life’s journey, we are welcome here! We are a community of affirmation. We do not practice discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, income, or culture, we even seek accessibility for persons with disabilities – we welcome everyone. We do not make fun of people with disabilities. We do not engage in gay bashing, race baiting or behaviors supporting any form of racial supremacy. As a result we are becoming a community of healing – the kind of healing our nation needs right now!
SLIDE 11: HEALING GRACE OF GOD
We can reach out into our community with our unique message of openness and affirmation and invite others to come to the Sharing Table and experience the healing grace of God. We can offer encouragement that God knows many of us are struggling. We do live in a difficult economy, where corporations and businesses don’t care about employees. We need to know we have good spiritual friends who stand with us as we struggle to earn a living. Friends who pray with us and for us when we are unemployed, sick, wrestling with addiction or other mental health issues. Here at the Sharing Table there is no shame, if we are struggling with depression, or anxiety, or relationship issues, because we acknowledge we are a community of imperfect people. We know that none of us is in a position to judge, and we even are so bold to claim that God does not judge, God simply loves us. Every once in while God may pick us up by the scruff of the neck and ask us, “How is that working for you?” But God and this community only seek to help, to love never to shame or condemn.
SLIDE 12: SHARING
Another value of the Sharing Table that can open up infinite possibilities is sharing. When we share with one another both spiritually and materially miracles begin to happen. Especially when we can overcome our fears of sharing our spiritual neediness with others, we can begin to pray with and for each other, and miracles begin to happen.
SLIDE 13: MIRACLES OF HEALTH AND WELL BEING
These are not zap the rabbit out of the hat kind of miracles. No, the wonders that happen at the Sharing Table are small quiet events, where faith intersects with healing to overcome fear and doubt to support health and wellbeing. And perhaps the most important miracle of all is when we develop good spiritual friends we know that we don’t ever have to feel like we are abandoned or alone. Each of us may have to face challenges, with our jobs, our children, our finances, our health, and eventually each one of us will face death. But we don’t have to bear our burdens alone. God gives us good spiritual friends at the Sharing Table who will pray with us, and for us, help to hold us accountable, who will sit with us when we are in grief and support us when we are hurting. And so allow me to close with the Statement of Faith of the United Church of Canada selection number 887 in your hymnal a statement of our infinite possibilities at the Sharing Table:
SLIDE 14: GOD IS WITH US. WE ARE NOT ALONE. THANKS BE TO GOD!
We are not alone, we live in God’s world.
We believe in God: who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.
We trust in God.
We are called to be the Church: to celebrate God’s presence, to live with respect in Creation, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.