Memories May 14, 2017

Day one Week twenty Year 2017

There are mmemories and then there are memories.

Please read the Scripture for today. http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=43
Acts 7:55-60 • Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16 • 1 Peter 2:2-10 • John 14:1-14

Prayer: Lord God there are many people who have wonderful memories of their mothers. Then there are those who don’t. Today I ask your spirit to clear the cobwebs and allow a story to surface that will bring a smile to each of us. Be here for us in a sense of worship. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Please share with us a story of your mother that “clears the cobwebs,” something like I remember when…

Music: The meditation this morning will ask and concentrate on the thought “Who are you?” Please select music that either asks the question about our identity or about our calling.

The Lord of Sea and Sky , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcL9S5a3weU

Shine Jesus Shine , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4hXJ9ax2FY

Lord I offer my life to you
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTLGBfv4xaM

Meditation:

I Peter 2:9 Today’s meditation brings a great big smile to my face. The smile is inspired by a history with the Biblical text. Every time these verses are read my mind is filled with memories. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

2:10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Memories. Wow memories that motivate, memories that challenge, memories that cause me to be humbled by the awesome awareness that God does call us, that God has a divine sense of direction and purpose.

Many years ago now I had been invited to speak at a church in North Chicago. As was my tradition I arrived early, began to walk through the community. As I walked through the neighborhood I saw the letters TJO spray painted on the side of buildings, sidewalks and fences. I stopped to ask people what the letters stood for. They, to a person told me never say that name and they walked by. In a corner grocery store I asked the clerk the same question. He told me he was closing and I should leave. I left. As I got to the church the pianist was playing. I went to her and asked her what the letters meant. She stood up looked at me and said it would be best not to talk about those letters. Then she told me an eerie tragic story of how the community had been held ransom by a gang so powerful the very mention of their name brought fear. The memories were those of terror. I listened as she told stories. Tears came to my eyes to think that such evil could live on long after the gang had been destroyed. That night when it came time to preach my message changed. It was then as is now my understanding being a Christian is to offer an alternative. That night the subject became, There is a new Gang in Town! The text calls us the Royal Priests! a chosen people, a holy people, a people of God own choosing, a people who experience mercy and then those who dare to share mercy. I declared the TJO were dead! Now! what if a people would rise up and in mercy have a name that destroys the power of evil? What if our calling, our name would bring joy to people? What if? You ARE The Royal Priests! You are called of God to be the people of mercy. amen.

A second story. During the years of my Church work I would take time to study communities and churches. Once I went to Washington D.C. My mission was to network the city. I came in without money, one name of a person to meet, and no other connections. I stayed at a house in the ghetto. I had been there a few days when I was confronted by a pimp. He had a woman on each arm. They were dressed to the nine’s. He wore a white suit, a felt hat with a plumed feather. He stopped in front of me. He released his arm from the woman on his right. With two fingers he proceeded to jab my left side near my shoulder. With a harsh voice he asked me, “who are you? what are you doing here?” Then without giving me a moment to respond he answered, “you are okay! because you are with them.” (he pointed to the church who had given me permission to work with them. I never forgot the power of the TJO and now I was experiencing what that first sermon was about. I had met the Royal Priests, a holy people, a people of God’s choosing, a people of mercy. In the two weeks I spent with them my life was transformed. I understood.

I know today is Mother’s Day and it wouldn’t be fitting to not mention this. Nor can I help but think that these people represent children who “even a mother would be proud of.” Amen

A closing thought in song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7Uj_B0KNgU

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