Apr 16th: Practicing Resurrection, with Rev. Dr. Steven Koski.
Posted: Sun, Apr 16, 2023
TRANSCRIPT: Willimon was a chaplain at Duke University and one day he got a phone call from from an irate father. He was enraged because his his law school bound daughter and Duke student, informed her parents that, you know, she’s not going to law school. And she’s going to, in the words of [...]
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Willimon was a chaplain at Duke University and one day he got a phone call from from an irate father. He was enraged because his his law school bound daughter and Duke student, informed her parents that, you know, she’s not going to law school. And she’s going to, in the words of her father, throw it all away and go do mission work for two years with Presbyterians in Haiti, caring for orphans. This is absurd. Shout out to father. She’s top of her class accepted to the best law school in the country.
And she’s going to be foolish, and change diapers and Haiti instead.
Well, a minute heard enough. And he said, Now look, sir,
weren’t you the one who had her baptized? Didn’t you take her to Sunday school, encourage her confirmation? support her going with your youth group on a mission trip?
It’s actually your fault. She believes all that stuff. About being a child of God.
It it’s your fault. She wants to follow Jesus. You know, follow the one who said the best way to find your life is to be willing to give yourself away in love.
It’s your fault that in your words, she’s throwing it all away on Jesus.
Because you’re the one who introduced her to Jesus
is it’s not my fault. Your daughter has taken her taken this invitation to follow him so seriously.
And there was a long pause.
And the father said
but all I ever wanted her to do and be was a Presbyterian.
And Willem and said, you know, sorry.
You messed up
and nurtured your daughter into becoming a follower of Jesus, a world changer whose life is centered in love.
Soren Kierkegaard once said, you know lots of people believe in worship, praise, sing about and admire Jesus.
But very few of us, except his invitation to follow him.
It’s it’s a whole lot easier to believe in Jesus than to follow Jesus.
You know, I personally, I personally think God has all kinds of grace for us. When we get the theology wrong if we get the believing part wrong.
I think it breaks God’s heart.
When we get the loving other people seeking justice, choosing mercy part of living raw.
Last Sunday on Easter, we celebrated the promise that love wins. Now, in the words of Wendell Berry,
our job is to practice resurrection, creating a ruckus for good.
Our lives are intended to be evidence of the good news that love wins.
How is your life?
Good news for those around you? How is your life good news? For those who are struggling, how is your life good news for the poor in the hurting?
How is your life? Good news. For those who have given up hope. St. Francis said preach the good news at all times
and use words only if necessary.
In his book changed the world.
Mike slaughter wrote true church growth
is not about how many people attend worship each weekend.
The true greatness of any local church is measured by how many people serve the marginalized.
You know, I need to say that I’m humbled and and really in awe
of how many people at First Presbyterian
are focused on serving the needs of others, right here in Central Oregon and in places like Guatemala and Burundi.
Like slaughter rights.
Jesus had a church of only 120 members, not by most church growth standards, this this membership would be deemed an utter failure.
But Jesus used a very different measure.
The followers of Jesus understood that that the mission was not to get
The world into the church.
But to get the church into the world,
you know, our greatest fear should not be that that people leave our church.
Our greatest fear
is that they stay in our churches
and unwilling to give themselves away in love.
We don’t leave our comfort zones and go out to the margins to make a difference, as if somehow we are superior or a savior.
We don’t go where there is need to make a difference.
We go where there is need,
so that we will be different.
We go to the margins and practice resurrection, bringing life where there is death, hope, where there is despair.
Because where there is need
is where we will find Jesus.
Jesus makes this I have to confess he makes this uncomfortably clear in Matthew 25
When he says I was hungry,
and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink.
I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. I needed clothes, and you clothed me I was I was sick. And you looked after me.
I was in prison, and he did not leave me alone.
And he was asked
when did we see you hungry and feed you
thirsty and and give you something to drink?
When did we see you as a stranger and and invite you in? or needing clothes and clothes you?
When did we see you sick or in prison
and cared for you.
And Jesus said Truly,
truly I tell you, whatever you did,
for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine.
You did for me.
In my previous church I served in Chicago,
we would go to the south side of Chicago once a month, bringing a meal to serve the hungry and the homeless. The feeding program we supported what was led by a woman by the name of Mary Glover. Now Mary herself had been homeless and and she knows what it is to be hungry. And she always always prays with those who show up as volunteers be before the doors open. And trust me this woman, this woman pray like someone who personally knows the one to whom she’s talking with a long, long line of hungry, needy, cold people waiting outside in all kinds of weather.
At first we would hold hands before serving.
And Mary would always lead us in prayer.
And Mary would always pray the same thing.
Jesus, we know you’ll be coming through the line today.
Because we know you’re hungry.
help us to see you today.
And when we see you,
help us to treat you well.
And with the dignity you deserve.
Now that’s what it means.
The practice resurrection.
One of my all time favorite, absolute favorite stories is told by Father Greg Boyle, who’s the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention and rehabilitation program in the world. And Father Boyle tells the story of a church he served that that opened their doors to allow homeless immigrants and undocumented workers to to sleep in the church at night.
You know, I’m really grateful that we have First Presbyterian,
open our doors as an emergency relief shelter when needed.
Here’s how Father Boyle tells his story.
Once the homeless and unknown undocumented workers began to sleep in the church at night,
there was always the faintest evidence left in the church that they had been there. Come Sunday morning, we we’d flew through the place as best we could we’d, we’d spray the breeze everywhere and we
strategically placed potpourri in an air wick all around the church.
To combat the lingering, pervasive reminder
that nearly 100 homeless men had spent the night sleeping in the pews.
But still try as we might.
The smell remained.
The grumbling began, people began to spoke of withdrawing their money and churching elsewhere.
One man came to talk to me he, he wax nostalgic about the past, I haven’t been baptized, confirmed in that church, how he had paid for the new carpet.
That he takes in the scene all around him.
Gang members gathered by the Bell Tower, homeless men and women were being fed in great numbers in the parking lot.
Folks who are arriving for the AAA and NA meetings and English as a Second Language classes.
It really looked like a who’s who of everybody who society thinks
is a nobody. gang members, drug addicts, the homeless prostitutes, the undocumented.
The man looks around and he sees all of this and he and he shakes his head disgusted and says, you know that this, this used to be a beautiful church,
a holy place.
I responded, you know, some people
think it’s finally at church and the holiest place. They know.
More and more people expressed unhappiness with what was going on.
So I decided to address it in a sermon on Sunday. I began I began my sermon.
What’s that smell?
What’s the church smell like? People are mortified by context sees people, people pretend to read their bulletins.
So I ask again.
What’s the church smell like?
After a pause, smells like feet. Don Raphael yells out he was. He was really old and never cared about what people thought.
Excellent, I said.
Why does the church smell like feet?
Because a lot of homeless men slept here last night as a woman.
Well, why in the world?
Would we let them sleep here in this beautiful, holy place?
It’s what we’re committed to do.
It’s what Jesus would do says another.
Well, that I said,
What’s the church smell like now?
A man stands up and shouts. It smells like commitment. And the place cheers. And Guadalupe de Guadalupe. He waves their arms wildly for quiet. No, no, she says.
It smells like roses. The pack church roars with laughter. And Dawn Raphael. He yells out again.
Smells like Jesus.
Smells like love.
Imagine if we began each day
with that prayer of Mary Glover to in a minute.
Jesus, we know if our eyes are open.
We know that that if we’re willing to leave our comfortable places
and open our hearts to wherever there is need.
We’re going to meet you today Jesus.
We’re going to meet you in unexpected ways in unexpected places, and unexpected people.
Help us to see you
and welcome you.
Help us to treat you well.
And with the dignity you deserve.
May our life
be good news?
preach the good news that love wins
use words only if necessary.
May it be so