Friday, June 17, 2016


God our father, 
You are the everliving and forgiving One. 
Generous, providing and blessing One. 
Patient and kind, loving and caring One. 
Sharer of power, lover of justice, 
Rescuer from darkness, 
Provider of a place to dwell. 
God our father, thank you for welcoming all of us into your eternal family.

(Christine Sine,

"...for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise." 

This morning we get to talk about identity. and Dad.

Abba. Father. That is what Jesus called God. That is what we are called to call God. It means God is not remote from us. God is next to us, as close as any most loving father ever was. And we are God’s beloved children. You are God’s beloved child. All of us are.

That is our identity. Now.

Just when you have completed all the work of establishing your own identity - over against your parents, or your peers, or some machine of government or industry; just when you have established your identity as a sexual being or a political animal or a consequential force in local government; then it is that Christ comes to us. Then it is that we hear the good news. And he calls to us - into a new identity.

Paul was looking both ahead and back when he told the Galatians they were heirs of the promise. He wanted them to know they were God’s beloved children, that they were part of the plan, too. Just like the Hebrews who’d wandered through the desert with Moses, or the Moabite woman Ruth, or any of the people who came into fellowship with God through the people of Israel. Paul wanted them (and you) to know that in Christ everybody has a chance to realize that they are beloved of God. 

You are. And so is everybody else.

All three religions of Abraham have this message in mind: you and I, we can be part of this story too, and find our identity as children of Abraham, as God’s beloved ones.

There is no longer Jew or Greek or slave or free or male and female - and we could go on: no black or white or brown, or rich or poor, straight or gay, legit or criminal, sober or using... 

... but there it is:

All of you, all of us, are one in Christ Jesus.

And if that is who you are, then you are one of the people chosen by God to lead the world into a new reality. You are God's beloved child, and you have work to do.

Because there is no kingdom of heaven unless there are believers in it - in it up to their necks. In it with a passion and a willingness and a promise to fulfill; in deep with the kingdom and the kingship of God, ready to put their work in the world into God's service, to bring into being, into present reality, the hegemony of Jesus, the reign of the Cross, and the right to live in freedom and security - and crazy self-expression - of all people.

This week, in the Orlando Massacre, we have seen a hate crime against gays, an act of terror in the name of God, and the sorry result of lax gun laws, all in one act of desperate and criminal violence. 

It was public instantly. I heard it from a man on my way into church last Sunday; he'd just heard it on the radio as he parked his car. Public instantly - and a magnet to the numb narcissism and the wacko commentary of self-involved people of all kinds. Instantly public, and a trauma. Public instantly, and a magnet to the numb narcissism and the wacko commentary of self-involved people of all kinds. Public instantly, and a trauma. We share in it, gay or straight, male or female, Muslim or Christian, Latina or Anglo.

Free or slave. Yes, there are slaves in the world. 

And there is moral slavery too - demonic bondage that holds people captive with anxiety, fear, and despair. And we are here to proclaims freedom to the captives.   

Freedom from want. Freedom from fear. Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship.

Free to worship God without fear.  

And free to assemble for peaceful or political ends, and to sing out for God's kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. Without fear, in freedom. Whoever we are. 

For we proclaim that: 

Love is strong as death.
Love casts out fear.
Love does not despair.

There was a rumor going around that the president had been able to sign something very like the Brady Bill, revived. No such luck. Those of us who remember when Jim Brady and Ronald Reagan were shot may not remember that the Brady Bill was signed by President Clinton. Twelve years later. It took that long. It takes an unconscionable amount of time to get reasonable gun safety laws passed.  

And that is another third of this tragedy, the Orlando Massacre, and so many others. We may be inclined to see one third of the picture: lax gun safety laws, violence against a targeted group - gays, Latinos, Blacks, Sikhs; or Muslim extremism and recruitment of home-grown terrorists. But all of them were at play in this situation. And when politicians and commentators are so unwise as to capitalize on tragedy to build votes or popularity it only feeds the fire.

We need to do something different. To act. To speak out. To work -
  • ... and to keep working on preventing gun violence through legislation and support for proper law enforcement.
  • to build bridges of understanding between the children of Abraham - Christian, Muslim, and Jew - so extremism is revealed as the marginal mutant that it really is.
  • to continue to embrace and celebrate diversity among all the beloved children of God.

Liberating God, working your power among the legions of destructive might and the demons of inner disturbance, release us from our fears, protect us from everything that could overwhelm us, and bring all the powers of this present age to serve your just and gentle rule.  (Jim Cotter)

Abba. Father. Let it be so. Amen.