Equal and Sent Sermon for August 13th

Let us pray. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable unto you O Lord our Rock and our redeemer. Amen.
I am not going to lie. This is not the sermon I was planning on preaching today. This is not the sermon I had written earlier this week, but after watching colleagues this weekend made their way down to Charlottesville, after seeing the protests, the torches, the cars running into a group of people, seeing the Nazi flags fly high, and hearing the chants on the television, I realized something. I often preach love, grace, and mercy. I remind people often that no matter what they are a beloved child of God and that nothing they or we do can ever separate us from the love of God. This to me is a core part of my faith. To know, to trust, and to believe that God not only loves me unconditionally, but also those I come in contact with and those whom I do not know. This changes how I see people. It changes how I live, it changes how I respond to people and to one another. Because, when I read Scripture, throughout it all I see God’s love for each one of us. Those of us who often do not really deserve it. Those who sometimes forget just how much God loves us and how much God has done for us.
And so, this is not the sermon I thought I was going to preach. But after this weekend, I realized that I can’t stay quiet. I can’t just sit by and let others think that what is happening not only in Virginia, but in our country, in our world is ever ok or somehow ordained by God. God is not a God of hatred. We worship a God of grace, forgiveness, mercy, and peace. We believe and confess our faith in a God who lives within each one of us. And maybe just for a moment if we stop to see the face of God in one another, then we won’t protest and tell others through our words or our actions that they somehow are anything less than a beloved child of God.
I know I come from a place of priviledge. I have never had to experience a group telling me that I am less than because of who God has created me to be. Sure as a woman I have experienced it in small ways, but no one has ever yelled at me, no one has ever had a large protest in my lifetime telling me that I am less than, and I have never once seen a shirt that has reminded me that I am not good enough. But, that does not mean that my, and your, brothers and sisters in faith have been as lucky.
We do live in a world where evil and hatred are all around. Turn on the news, open a newspaper and you will see and hear of the presence of evil in our world. What is happening in Charlottesville, with hate chants being shouted, torches flying high, that is evil. But even though there is evil, it does not mean that God has left us to fight by ourselves. Rather, God walks with us, calling us to God’s hands and feet. Calling us to not just sit by and watch, but rather speaking up, out, and walking with those who are marginalized, those who are hurting, those who think even just for a moment that they are not worthy, that they are not a beloved child of God.
In our reading from Romans, we hear that there is no distinction between Jew and Greek. This was the dividing factor for those early followers of The Way. They were the categories that people were often put and depending on what side you were determined whether or not you were good enough or not. And here in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, to the church that lived this distinction every day between who was in and who was out, who was acceptable and who was not, who was loved and worthy and who should be ignored and stepped over in society. But Paul clearly and blatantly reminds them that all are equal. All are loved by God. All are God’s children. But he doesn’t end there. He doesn’t end with this commandment and reminder of the promise that all are God’s children. But he goes on to call them, to remind the church in Rome that it is not enough to sit back and hold onto this information for themselves. Rather, he sends them out.
Immediately after this verse, where the Romans and we hear, “ For there is not distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of Lord shall be saved.” Paul continues to say, “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those whom bring the good news!”
Notice what Paul does there, first he reminds them that it doesn’t matter who you are, because all are beloved children of God. But how will anyone know that? How will those who are put into categories and told that they are less than know that they are so much more in the eyes of God if we don’t tell then? How can they believe in God is no one has ever told them about God? And lastly, how will they be able to share this Good News with anyone else, if no one tells them first? You see are that first step. We as children of God, who have heard the Good News, the story of Christ’s death and resurrection so that we can be freed children of God. The death and resurrection of Christ, in which we are no longer captive to sin, death, and the devil. The promises of God that we are worthy more than two sparrows, the God who knows the number of hairs on our heads, and has known us when we were knitted together in our mother’s womb. The God who walks with us in the valley of the shadow of death, who meets us on the water and in the storms of life, and who prepares a feast for us in the presence of enemies with a cup overflowing and well matured foods.
If we don’t share these promises, if we don’t share how it is that God is present in our lives and in the lives of others and in our world, how will people know? How will all people know, not just those who we think deserve to hear it, if we never take the first step, if we don’t do something about it? Every worship service we end with a sending. A reminder and a call to go into this broken world in which we live and do something about it. To tell and to share, to be present and to be God’s hands and feet in this world. So how will you do just that this day and this week? How will you tell others about God’s redeeming love to the world? How will you go out from this place in peace to go and share the Good News? Amen.

Pastor Katie has served St. Paul Hametown since July 2012. She is a graduate of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg with a Masters of Divinity and a concentration in Theology and Public Life. She is married with three children.

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