Sermon based on Hebrews 11:1-3, 6-19 at First UMC, Huntington on August 11, 2019.
A Prayer for Portland
“Dragon history is always oral history. The written word is so final, so set. Yes, people argue about it but in the end, their arguments are all about interpretation. The spoken word remains alive, writhing, and twisting forever.”
One of the Hazanim
When my brothers and sisters in the faith (and a daughter by blood among them) come together in just a few weeks in Portland, there will be much that has been read and even more that will be said. I know that many prayers are being shared for this holy gathering of people who must worry about words. I only hope the one I add is read by a few, spoken by more, and heard by the only One that matters.
A Prayer for Portland 2016
Gathered from scattered gatherings of the very same clan
They flock and nest in one place for weeks.
To reproduce? To create? To be recreated?
To hold fast? To change? To paint a brighter future?
No one knows what will really happen but my prayer is this:
Let your words, whatever words you share,
even the ones in the deepest, darkest corners,
of the unseen places of your heart, be words of life.
Speak those words to life and let all others die the death of the Accuser.
Leave as one, returning to places where clans gather
To share One,
To offer recreation,
To hold fast,
To speak a brighter future into existence
with words that cannot fail.
Leave as one…to hope.
I have been in some very large crowds. I’ve been to Disney and the Harry Potter theme park and those were very crowded locations. I have been to a college football “bowl game.” Granted, it was the “Continental Tire Bowl” but still, it was a very large crowd. I’ve been to JFK airport…now that was a crowd. It seemed especially crowded when my visit there fell at the same moment my nine month old daughter, Leslie decided it was time to learn to walk. My toddler. Busy people. Not a good mix.
Perhaps the most crowded place I ever visit, though, is my own mind.
I can’t even begin to list all the people that are there and the noise that takes place in that venue of my life.
There are, of course, the voices of people long gone. My grandparents all reside there in some shape or form and they pop up when I least expect. Sometimes Uncle Joe, Uncle Gene, Uncle Rodger or Marsa show up with them. They are not ghosts. They are more than just voices. They are something of the crowd that makes up the world inside my mind.
There are plenty of living people there too. My entire family takes up a good deal of space. Sometimes they are arguing. Sometimes they are encouraging. Sometimes – I think these are my favorite times – they are just there. They are just there bearing witness to what else is going on in my life. Absent in body, but always a filter for all that I experience in some way.
There are of course good friends there. I can’t leave them out. Some are not very present in my life but they are always present in my thoughts. Dan? Haven’t seen him in years and years, but I think we could strike up a conversation in about three seconds flat. Stephanie, Brad, Johnna, Mark and Amy…well, they are always there too. I see them more often but their presence lingers as it should.
Of course, there are some who reside in my mind that at times I would love to evict. But I can’t. And I probably wouldn’t if I had the ability. These are the ones who taught and teach me difficult lessons in life. Some of them are people I have hurt terribly. Some of them are people who have hurt me. Some are both. I long to be in contact with many of them…but, well, I know I can’t or won’t or something.
And there are bunches of people from my “neighborhood.” Some of those voices are friendly and some are not so friendly. Sometimes I have trouble telling the difference. I know some get angry with me at times, but that is normal. I am a leader after all. I can’t even please the shadows that reside in my mind, let alone those who are real and outside of me. One in particular is cropping up a lot lately. Sigh. I wish we could agree to love Christ together despite our difference.
I can’t forget all the unreal people there too. People I have picked up as I have read some novel or watched some television show. Their voices entertain and inform me. Tyrion, Harry, Lilly, Frodo, Eragon, Deitrich, Albus, Morgan and Mother Abigail…that list is almost endless. Joining them are these new folks I am meeting from my own brush with writing fiction. Most of those folks I don’t know well although some of them I trust and some of them scare the crap out of me.
I heard today that Jesus cleared the temple so that it could be the space that was supposed to be holy. I was asked to do the same with my mind so that it could just be me and Jesus.
Don’t think that is going to happen in this lifetime. It’s a crowded space, my mind. It’s crowded because my heart opens to just about everyone I meet and my imagination is fueled by meeting them. Then, when I seek my own inner introvert, there they are, ready to energize me anew!
Perhaps instead of throwing them out of this temple, I will just start introducing them around. “Jesus, this is Tyrion. Tyrion, Jesus.” This could be quite amusing!!
However, I am blessed and thankful for each and every voice that has become a part of mine. Thank you. I pray that you enjoy your visit.
There is a trap that waits –
waits to spring its gnarled teeth out of the hearts
of those who choose to love –
choose to love, despite:
It’s teeth are those that gnash and lash
at those whose heart is already tangled
in endless, water-falling false hopes
of being right above all else.
The trap waits for all who choose the way of Jesus…
Lover of all…
Lover of those who follow…
Lover of those who fail…
Lover of those who get up again and again to love…
Lover of those of other flocks…
even the Lover of those caught in the knots, the thoughts,
the false hope of holiness on their own.
The way of love, love above all else
releases the trap with a harmless snap.
Yet drops upon the shoulders
of a cross.
© 2014 Scott Sears