Sunday, July 8, 2012


          So...did anyone take a risk this week?  Anybody try something risky with their faith? How did it go? Was the risk worth it? Were you well received or were you rejected? Will you try again?
          David, Paul, and Jesus all took risks. They were, each one, rejected for their efforts more often than not. Yet they kept on doing what they were called by God to do.
          Samuel was sent by God to Jesse’s family to anoint the next king. Six of Jesse’s sons were paraded before Samuel; everyone looked like the perfect one to be anointed king. Yet none of them met God’s criteria. The one he wanted was the one everyone thought of as the runt. He was also handsome, ruddy looking they said, and a womanizer but he was the one chosen by God to lead the people of Israel. He became a great king and has been set up as an example of what a king should be.
          We have seen in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians that he was rejected by that church. His letters, his strong, powerful words, exhibit great power but apparently he didn’t exactly impress the folks in Corinth with his speech or by his looks. He was replaced by “super” apostles. You know the ones with the glib tongues and fancy, charismatic speech.
          Jesus, our Lord, was rejected in his own home town. When he began to teach in the meeting place at first they were impressed with his knowledge but then they remembered that he had grown up in a carpenter’s house. They questioned how he could have gotten so smart. They didn’t believe he could be the Son of God. His own old friends tried to stone him. Because of their lack of faith he wasn’t able to heal many folks in his home town.
          And so he sent out his disciples, in pairs, to prepare the neighboring towns for what was coming. Jesus warned them that they might not always be welcome in some of the communities; a nice way of saying they may be rejected.
          And yet…David, Paul, Jesus, and his disciples went ahead with the work they had been given the authority to do. Thank God they did. Can you imagine where any of us would be today if they hadn’t?
          So, when we endeavor to do what God calls us to do and we encounter rejection should we be surprised? No. In fact we have some great examples of what we should do when we are rejected.
          The first being that we shouldn’t stop doing what God is calling us to do. As the Lord told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
          How often do we think we’re not qualified to do something like lead prayer or a Bible study or lead worship or tell someone about Jesus? Friends, if God is speaking to your heart; if you’re feeling the call to do something for the Lord; then the first thing for any of us to do is trust in God’s grace. His grace is enough for you and me.
          Actually, when we think about it, that’s all we need. Just like Jesus told the disciples that they didn’t need to take anything else with them when they went into the villages to teach and to cast out demons and to heal neither do we need anything else.
          All we need is God’s grace…and his call to us to love and serve Him and our neighbors.
          So, we don’t think we have it in us to do that kind of work. Think about it. Do we really want to tell God we can’t or won’t do it when we know, deep in our hearts, that he is the One calling us to this work? I don’t.
          Wendell Berry wrote a poem called “Manifesto—The Mad Farmer’s Liberation Front.” It was originally published in 1991. Listen to what he had to say about taking risks and going against the grain.
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.
          Friends, God is calling us to go out and tell others about his kingdom and his Good News. He is calling us to not be like the world. He is calling us to be different to give our all to Him. Can we do that and not worry about being rejected by the world? I think we can. And I think we should.
          Thanks be to God for his grace. Amen.

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