I have been asked to share my sermon manuscript. A word to the wise, I don’t preach straight from the manuscript, it is more like a guide. Included are all the quotes I took out, I will insert the two icons I had intended to use and I have attempted to note my sources as best I can. I research a great deal online, so I hope I have given credit where is due. I will say I always find David Lose insightful and Working Preacher as well. A big shout out to Text Week for Jenee Woodards long list of sources and liturgy. You find the whole worship service from yesterday here but there it is quite short. I do not spend a great time on grammatical errors, I have attempted to clean up the text. So, after noting my sources above and some in the text of the sermon, here it is:
Jesus was tired, weary, worn, grief stricken. The disciples have come back hyper and excited, his cousin has been executed….Jesus wants to get away a bit, to process things…his disciples success, perhaps unexpected success, his cousins brutal, horrible sensationalized execution. Pulled between the extremes…just wants a break Ever felt that way? Too much, too soon, too hard. The crowds that followed Jesus recognized he cared….they were tired too, worn, frightened, uncertain….hungry, thirsty….what they usually heard was condemnation…they were lazy, sinful, if they lived right then God would bless them, they would be healthy, have jobs, everything would okay….but obviously….they were poor, hungry, homeless cause they deserved it….often the same thing people hear now, well, if you tried harder, if you prayed harder, if you did it right….nothing bad would happen, this is your fault, you deserve whatever it is that has happened to you…there is so much angry and judgment and condemnation So many icons of Jesus are stern or angry..
Like this one,
PP:1 Jesus with Bible….looking at that is hard, how can one meditate on that face…
There are statues all over in churches Europe that makes this kind of grumpy look tame. There are pretty frightening images really, we have heard the fires of hell described, if we don’t do this or that, God will get us and I get it. These images and descriptions are to help get people on the straight and narrow….if you don’t stop your sinning this is the Jesus you will face, And yet for all the judement we might have read or heard….Scripture is full of stories of a God who loves us and call to us, a Jesus who cares. Several years ago this icon was uncovered:
PP 2: The icon the Savior of Zvenigorod
The eyes are so different…..it was painted in the 1500’s and lost and then re-found in 1918 in a barn in Russia. Only 3 panels of the 9 survived. It is badly damaged….but the eyes….the face is one of deep compassion and caring. The eyes seem to look right at whoever is viewing this icon and the eyes are so filled with grace, love and caring….Icons are not “portraits” or snapshots or pictures, they are not supposed to be, they are an invitation to see God through them….Christ is the ultimate icon through which we see God
So the icon, the picture is not Christ, but a point for us to focus on Christ’s compassion for us, like our reading said, because we are like sheep without a shepherd. Or our shepherds have scattered us and driven us away. So God has promised us a shepherd who will take care of us, who will help us not be afraid. So Jesus claims to be that shepherd…who has compassion. The difference between compassion and loving is not simple, exactly, although we will focus on the loving Jesus in a couple of weeks. Compassion is a being with, loving is a choice in terms of behavior and attitude love is a choice, a decision, compassion is a way of connecting with another by God’s love and grace. The word compassion is taken from 2 words, com which means “with” and passion which means suffer….it is to suffer with…. Someone else….it is more than sympathy or empathy, or kindness, it is an identification with someone else’s struggles, pains, experience
PP 3: Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it’s like to live inside somebody else’s skin. Frederick Buechner
It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too. Buechner uses this way of describing Christ….who has the compassion to really know what it is like to live inside our skin and not be satisfied until all have peace, joy and love and hope and faith
When we come to church, I think we come for a variety of reasons, some of which may have to do with duty or obligations, but I don’t think that that is the real reason, we are here not because we know everything, or we understand the bible or how to read it, we may not have actually ever opened, unless it was one of those times we used it like a magic 8 ball, God I need this and we flip open hoping for a great fortune to come forth….we might not know anything about God or Church or what it means to be a Methodist or Presbyterian….I think we come to church, because our hearts are aching, we have a sense, that maybe here, in this very room, that the hunger that resides deep in souls can be met in this Jesus….
Tenth Ave North released a song a few years ago Worn: seems to speak to this experience of the crowd, of Jesus of you and me
PP 4: I’m Tired, I’m worn, My heart is too heavy. From the work it takes to keep on breathing. My soul is crushed by the weight of this world. I know that you can give me rest, so I cry out with all that I have left
I think the draw, the reality of these weeks passage, particularly amid the brutality and violence that seem to permeate our world and his world, is that Jesus is willing to embrace the pain of others ( – rather than explain it, or minimize it, or seek to comfort it, or fit it into some larger plan, and Jesus honors and acknowledges it, this week’s scripture call us to trust that God is in the midst of our brokenness and pain, working for and calling us to new life and faith in Jesus, that in Buechner’s words Jesus looks upon the crowd and understands what it’s like to live inside their skin, inside our skin,
Here is the truth that I wrestle with often, perhaps the one thing that unifies us most fully is that each of us has experienced brokenness and sorrow, betrayal and uncertainty, fear and doubt, : it may be the abandonment of a parent, the betrayal of a loved one, the loss of a child, the death of someone we loved so much, the unfufillment of a dream, the oppression of those who hold power over us, or any number of other things. (David Lose)
PP 5: I wanna know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life And all that’s dead inside can be reborn Cause I’m worn (Tenth Ave North)
Yet this is so often true, is almost always true, to live is to struggle, to hurt, and to experience loss and brokenness. It is also to experience love and joy, delight and awe, a sense of wonder and hope. And we are worn, dead inside, our lives our broken, just like the crowd Jesus looked up…and this was their hope and ours
PP 6: Let me see redemption win, let know the struggle ends that you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn. (Tenth Avenue North)
What’s funny is that on most occasions we would prefer to hide that brokenness, this lostness, this sin from others. Probably comes from a kind of embarrassment. Or perhaps it comes from a fear of being vulnerable – we wonder if others will take advantage of us when our guard is down. Or perhaps it comes from a fear of being overwhelmed by our loss and grief. I don’t know; I suspect it is all of these and more. But I do know that we tend to favor strength, health, and independence, or at least the appearance of these things, over weakness, pain, and dependence. (David Lose) Or maybe I should say, I do. I have been trained that way. But I don’t think this is faithful to the gospel. Because this is what we long for: that God will gather the flock and bring us back and we will not be afraid
I don’t think hiding our brokenness is faithful to Jesus or who Jesus as the icon of God invites us to be. If Jesus is compassionate and understanding who understands our weakness, the Jesus comes along side us in our pain and discomfort and failures. Jesus doesn’t stand above us, or is distant from us, because Jesus has compassion for us, because we are like sheep without a shepherd and a good shepherd is the one who will draw us more deeply toward becoming the persons we have been called to be.
Indeed, my reading of this passage this week is that we are called to to be like Jesus people of compassion, because God is most clearly and fully present in the suffering and brokenness of the world. We are called to like Jesus, be a compassionate people by being honest about our brokenness and thereby demonstrate our willingness to enter into and embrace the brokenness of others. We are called to Follow this Jesus because we follow the One who not only had compassion, but was willing to live in our skin in all that it means to feel joy and sorrow, highs and lows, love and betrayal, life and even death on a cross, because this Jesus revealed that nothing, not even the hate and darkness and death that seemed so real on that Friday so long ago is greater than God, we believe and claim and witness to the Compassionate Jesus, who does not turn from that brokenness or that evil but indeed faces it with the love and light and life of God. We are invited this week, to follow this Christ, this hope of the world, this Christ of great compassion who speaks to our fearful hearts by conflict rent (taken from the Hymn Hope of the World by Georgia Harkness, the United Methodist Hymnal), who understands us and who is willing to walk everyday through all of our lives sorrow and pain, joy and laughter and enable us to be that compassionate presence for others. O Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead us, much we need thy tender care, Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus, hear o hear us when we pray (Taken from the hymn, Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us, attributed to Dorothy A. Thrupp, the United Methodist Hymnal). Thanks be to God. Amen.