One of the first movies I remember seeing in the theatre was Home Alone. This movie fits well with what we are talking about this morning. In Home Alone, the whole family is getting ready to go on a family vacation to France. The parents are busy trying to make sure they have all their clothes, their toothbrushes, and other assorted items that while important, are certainly not as important as their 8-year-old son. The family ends up focused so much on their own suitcases and belongings that they forget Kevin. They end up leaving him behind because they are focused on peripheral things, not things that matter like their son/brother. I am sure many of us have stories of our parents, family members, or maybe even friends forget about us because they were focused on something else. It can be easy for us to focus on things on the periphery. They seem important at the time and sometimes it is only later that we realize they were not quite as important as they once seemed. I am sure this was true as the parents in home alone realized they left their 8-year-old son at home.
As our text points out it is important not to hoard our possessions or resources. But it is also important to share those resources with God and with other people. This week we found out all about sharing our gifts with God and other people.
We met a woman named Rita, whose house had been devastated by a flood in Ironton. She had Crohn’s Disease along with other physical maladies that do not allow her to do much physical work. As you saw in the video her basement had been flooded with 8 feet of water and most of her one story house had seen close to a foot of water. When we arrived, about 5 days after the flood, she had not even looked at the basement because she was afraid what it might look like. When she opened up the basement she broke down in tears seeing all that she had lost. She was a broken person. The youth began rummaging through the mud and muck searching for some items she hoped made it through the flood (like the American Flag her father was buried with). We were not able to restore the items that were ruined in the flooded basement, but with each item brought out of the basement we were able to assist her on the road to recovery. By the end of our two days at Rita’s house we were able to clear out her entire basement (a task that she said would have taken her family over a month to complete) and taken out all the furniture from her house along with the carpet. These 16 youth and chaperones shared their resources and gifts that God has given them to provide a glimpse of hope to a woman who as in desperate need of a light.
The biblical text for this sermon is Mark 10:35-45.
This is the fourth in a sermon series using the themes of Tattoos on the Heart, by The Rev. G. Boyle
James and John don’t come off looking that great in this lesson. This kind of raw grab for power, prestige and recognition is just not done, not in the day of Jesus and not in our day either. Even the gospel writers are embarrassed by this story. Luke retells something like 80% of Mark’s stories, but does not tell this one. Matthew retells the story, but adds James and John’s mother as the one who tries to secure a good spot for her sons.
I get what’s going on in James and John’s head. They are success oriented. When we are success oriented, we have in our mind a desired outcome then create a plan to get us there. These guys believed they were following the Messiah, a Jewish King sent by God to restore the Jewish people to greatness. They figured when Jesus gets to Jerusalem, he is going to be crowned king through the power of God. Their goal wasn’t to be king, but to have the best seats next to the king. Continue reading Strive for Faithfulness Rather Than Success
I am in the midst of preparing the sermon for the week. It is the last week in our use of the book Tattoos of the Heart, by Father Gregory Boyle. This last week we discuss the unique way that followers of Jesus understand success.
All but the most dysfunctional among us have some vision of what a successful life looks like and a positive or negative judgment on how their life has lived up to this vision. Christians need not be different in this respect. A life with purpose and goals can be fruitful. The problem becomes when Christians accept the world’s vision of success and ape the purpose and goals of the world.
Father Boyle in the first chapter tells a story of a gang member named Scrappy who in his mid thirties after twenty years in a gang and ten in jail, finally decides to follow a different path. He begins to work in Homeboy Industries and to be ministered by God’s grace. The change in Scrappy is remarkable and celebrated.
In one of the last chapters of the book, Father Boyle tells the rest of the story of Scrappy. He is killed in a gangland execution a few months after beginning his new life. Boyle asks some difficult questions. “Was he a success story? Does he now appear in some column of failure as we tally outcomes? The tyranny of success often can’t be bothered with complexity. The tote board matters little when held up alongside Scrappy’s intricate, tragic struggle to figure out who he was in the world.” p.169 Good things to ponder as I prepare for Sunday. Peace, Pastor Karl
Story on pg. 129-130
“Junior is a man in his forties who sits outside his second story window and yells ‘I love you G-Dog’ to Father Boyle everyday he walks by. One day he did not hear Junior as he walked underneath his apartment. It wasn’t until he was far off that he heard the familiar voice yelling to him. Father Boyle went back and thanked Junior for his welcome. Junior responded that it was no problem, Father Boyle was in his jurisdiction.”
Carmen story pg. 41-42
“Carmen was a woman who had experienced a difficult life. She is a drug addict, prostitute, and gang member. She comes to sit in Father Boyle’s office before a baptism he is officiating. He keeps looking at the clock thinking about how he is going to be late for the baptism. She continues to pour out her life story and all the mistakes she has made. At the end of her story she says that she is a disgrace and Father Boyle realizes his shame of seeing her as an interruption meets the shame of her life.”
Homeboy Industries is a foolish business. The employees dress inappropriately and in ways that terrify middle class America. Their language is full of curse words. They show up late or not at all. The people they hire are truly unemployable. So why employ them? Father Boyle believes we are to imitate the kind of God we believe in. He believes passionately that God would be hiring them and giving them third, fourth, fifth and sixth chances. Continue reading God Is-Unmasking the love of God
Pastor Thadd and I are excited to be starting a new sermon series this Sunday that will go throughout July. Weekly we will be using different chapters of the book Tattoos on the Heart, by Father Greg Boyle to lift up themes of the nature of God, the power of shame, the narrowness of community and the unique understanding of Christian success. I would encourage all of our members to read this book in the month of July to hear great stories from Father Boyle’s 20 plus years ministering to neighborhoods in LA dominated by gangs. They are so well told. I promise they will make you laugh, cry and grow in your hopefulness for God’s world. On Wednesday nights in July at 6, we will discuss a chapter of the book in a class where everyone will have a chance to share their reaction. Come, grow with us as we share the power of Father Boyle’s good ministry. Peace, Pastor Karl
This meditation is based on Luke 9:51-62.
What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? Okay, not that, I mean the second thing you do. Or, if you were to log all of your activities, every single one of them, for the past week and you do this for a year, what do you always find time to do every week, no matter what? The answer reveals your true priorities. Continue reading Putting God First