The other day I was at the playground with my 4yr old boy. We were not alone. There were several other kids there, and pretty soon they decided to play hide-n-seek. Well unlike many homes or church buildings, a playground is not really designed to be chock full of hiding places. But that didn’t matter. These 3 little kids played anyway.
My son was the youngest, and soon it was his turn to hide. The count-down started, and he took off running, then he stopped and turned around and ran in another direction, turned around again, and again, and again. He couldn’t figure out where to hide. But that didn’t stop him. After a few revolutions he dove behind a pole. Which for some reason just couldn’t hide his big silly grin. This same process went for several turns. For some reason, I’m not sure it was his amazing hiding skills. He was always the last to be found.
So often in our culture, when we say someone is running in circles, it’s understood to be a bad thing. We are so driven to reach a goal, have an end project–so result oriented, that we miss the point of just doing or being. Within our prayers, within our church we need to remember that running in circles is sometimes what we need to be doing. We need to be spending time in prayer of centering; we need to be spending time sitting together around tables, and in living rooms. We need to be able to just smile because we are playing as God’s children.
First of all, it’s good to be back. I haven’t posted in a while.
Secondly, this is basically my sermon from yesterday. I sometimes, add, change, delete, etc. during the oral event of sermonizing.
It’s Mother’s Day today, right, so I get to say something about myself, right. Well, I’m not going to talk about being a mother except to say that my kids can tell you. They’ve heard this hundreds of times.
I liked to go to school. As a kid, I really did. I didn’t like these next few weeks as school was about to end, and I couldn’t wait for September to come. I had some friends I wanted to see, but besides that I actually enjoyed my classes, well most of them—math wasn’t that great but. Anyway.
I even enjoyed gym class—with one exception. It wasn’t swimming, or wrestling, or gymnastics –it was picking teams.
First of all, I dreaded being ever chosen “team” captian. Some folks would have relished and sought out that power. But not me; nope if you’ve ever been with me while I’m fretting over a menu at a restaurant, or even standing at the counter at say McDonald’s or Taco Bell—I can’t make up my mind. It’s tough to make that choice.
Now just imagine, there I am faced with other students—some friends, some maybe not so much. But there I am, and I know what’s like to not be chosen, I know how it feels to if not be last, to be pretty close.
So, the one time I was chosen to make the choices—well let me tell you that team wasn’t going to win any championships. I didn’t base my calculations on the hopes of winning. I went the opposite route.
That’s the way it was even when I wasn’t captain. I still stressed, not because I wanted to get picked first (ok that would be nice), but not also because I wanted to be on the winning team. No, I wanted to be on the team that would get me playing the most. That’s what I wanted the most, I wanted to be where the action was, and to get my hands on the ball. Winning, who cares it’s jr high or high school. I wanted to play!
I think that’s why I really like the words of Jesus we heard this morning from John’s Gospel – words that are for some of us—well pretty familiar.
Jesus is talking about love, and it’s not like we haven’t heard this before. It seems like all he’s been doing, and all that we’ve heard from the other passages is love, love, love. Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining.
I know how we work; I know how our brains work; I know what it’s like to live in the real world. We need to hear something often and in several different voices or different methods for it to actually begin or have any chance of sinking in, and getting stuck in our hearts, and actually sticking in our heads, our mouths, our hands.
So yeah Jesus loves everybody, absolutely, unequivocally everybody. There’s no stopping this love; we don’t have to ask for it, earn it. It’s definitely not about winning it. It’s a forever deal for everyone. And I’m talking each and every one of us—whether we sit in a Lutheran pew, a Roman Catholic, or a Mormom, or kneel for prayers as a Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, or even say there is no such thing as God as atheists do; it doesn’t matter—God still loves each and everyone of God’s children.
The thing about these words of Jesus today, is that there’s something else going on. And it has to do with Jesus calling his disciples (his followers) friends. And unlike Facebook, this status of friendship comes with real meaning. Jesus is asking us to be mere aquaintences.
What is a friend? What’s a friend do?
The thing about us being Jesus’ friends is that it’s not based upon what we like. In our world, we like to make friends with—well folks who are like us—share the same work, or interests, who talk, eat, dress, same political, or cultural, societal views, how live, look like us—we base our friendships on commonalities—right—that’s how the world does it, and well Jesus is doing something different than how the world works.
But Jesus is choosing us as Friends not based upon how similar we are whether we are like one another. No, Jesus chooses us to not just be friends with some benefits, but friends with responsibilities. We are being chosen to be on the Jesus team. What that’s all about—the point of the team—is to accomplish something—to work, do, play together towards a goal.
And again unlike the world the goal is not necessarily for us to win. We don’t have to worry about winning. Jesus has done that in the cross and resurrection. The decision has been made, for the power of Jesus life over the forces of death. So as a team we’ve got a different goal and that my friends is to simply play.
God is calling each of us as God’s beloved child, calling us together to be on the Jesus team to get that love that we talk about so much in here, to get that love we taste, see, feel, we learn about we, practice, we sing about to get that love we share in here—to get it out there—wherever we live as individuals, but teams play together and this is where we are together—so it’s most certainly our purpose, our mission to do that love thing out there.
Now of course, no team is good if one person is handling the ball all the time—hogging it. We have to always be checking, are we dropping the ball, are we equipping everyone to be part of the team. And here me now, everyone is part of the team. Maybe you just physically can not get out there, but everyone (no excuses) can welcome warmly, you can exercise these muscles –these mouth ones to smile, you can use your ears to listen openly, you can support the team in all sorts of ways—with the words you say, the offerings you give, and most importantly the fervent and strong prayers you say.
As I said we are loved, there’s no doubt about that. God loves us so much, that Jesus is choosing us to be on his team—the church—not to just come here occasionally, but to be in this relationship, to exercise all of our gifts, our talents, our mad skills—to be God’s church in here and out there. And you know what it is hard work, but it is fun; it’s all about God’s joy—So hey, let’s play! Amen.