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“The kingdom of God not in our answers, but rather in our awe.”
This week, we continued examining origin stories within the Bible as ways to inspire new beginnings in our lives through the framework of text, context, question, and practices. In this sermon, we assessed various origin stories of Jesus as they appear in the Gospels of John, Mark, Matthew, and Luke. We examined Jesus’s specialness in each of these Gospels, and noticed how Jesus becomes more special, earlier, throughout them. In John, he is sacred at his baptismal, but in Christmas Gospels he is divine from birth. The way which these contexts were subjected to change brought forth the question of, “What did Jesus begin? What were the expectations of his followers? What are our expectations of Jesus, now?” Primarily, Jesus was a novel theologian; the majority of his content was not purely original but rather was contrasting parabled, often phrased as, “You’ve heard it said, but I say…” However, Jesus did introduce the new phrase, “kingdom of God.” These two words had never been combined as such beforehand, fusing politics and theology together in a new and groundbreaking way. Furthermore, he said this kingdom was not one of power or politics, but was instead a life that existed within all people. So he walked among the marginalized, the poor, the oppressed, and the outkasted and told them this good news.
Our practices began with exploring. Jim Cain offered a tremendous example as a person who had once written off Jesus as sort of a psychotic jerk, but was able to come back to explore what Jesus might mean to him as a teacher and as a symbol. It invited us to also reexamine our established ideas about Jesus, and reminded us that we find the kingdom of God not in our answers, but rather in our awe. Upon reexamining, we assessed our expectations of Jesus and looked at how they could call us to be more loving to our neighbor, more helpful to the poor, and more involved in our lives regardless of when it was convenient or not. We tried to imagine what it might have meant to have been a follower of Jesus, as a healer, a political activist, or a wisdom teacher. We imagined him as a savior, but not as a transactional savior who died to correct a debt, but rather an example to a way of being, which if lived through, would save us. Finally, we challenged ourselves to listen. If the kingdom of God is within us, do we take what happens within us, seriously? And if the kingdom of God is within everyone, can we dare ourselves to hear it in others? The kingdom of God within us is not something we can get right, but instead is a way of being which is deeply experienced, within ourselves and exchanged between people; all people.
We are a misfit faith community that gathers in DeLand on Sundays at 5pm. Come as you are.
We value highly the metaphor of journey. We’re different people from different places and backgrounds, representing an intergenerational community, and we’ve traveled different paths. So, we agree not to make assumptions about the person across from us, next to us, or in conversation with us. We challenge ourselves to be sensitive, knowing this community includes a diverse group of people from life-long followers of Jesus, to people who are just now open to the idea that God might exist. We strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain our responses. We don’t assume fluency in bible, spirituality, or Church language, because we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity. So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace.
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