Proper 9 Year B 2021 (July 4th)
O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
We give thanks to you, who are the source of Love; whose light shines forth throughout the universe! Come awaken our hearts that we might do your work; For, without you, we can do nothing; ‘tis your Love that loves through us.
(Psalm 107:1-3 from Psalms for Praying by Nan C. Merrill)
Happy Birthday America!
Did ya’ll know that the statue of Liberty arrived in 1885? One of our favorite landmarks actually arrived near our 110th birthday. This year on June 17th She celebrated her 135th birthday, standing tall in New York City’s harbor. With her torch and tablet, she is a beacon on the shoreline. Lady Liberty right there on her pedestal so that she is the first thing you see as you enter the harbor, a beacon of hope and freedom. The gift of this statue actually began on the 100th birthday of this nation. While she stands tall now, did you know that this isn’t the only place that she has stood?
She was fully sculpted and assembled in Paris before she was sent to America.
This meant that in 1885 she was disassembled and – 350 pieces of copper and iron in 214 wooden crates arrived in the New York Harbor AND thankfully they came with a “handy instruction manual.”
Talk about putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. With hammers and nails, soldering irons and a whole lot of dusty workspaces and women men, the task was accomplished by fall of 1886.
This amazing structure was in pieces and sent with love and assembled for an entirely different country to re-assemble and for all to be reminded of the hope and light of change that it was to those across the ocean.
To be reassembled, to be pieced back together.
To be made whole, to be stronger together.
Awaken our hearts that God’s light can be shown through us.
Our country is in a space where there are so many pieces.
So many pieces that have jagged edges and pointing harsh edges.
Beautiful pieces each with their own part of making the larger structure strong and full of hope.
We are in need of some beautiful coming together moving forward to be light for one another and the larger community.
Where are our handy instruction manuals? Some days it seems like a wardrobe from IKEA would be easier to bring together.
Well with King David, God was always the instruction manual.
While God kept telling God’s people you don’t need a king, you have me as king over you, God relented and gave them a King (first Saul and then David)- and David was. HUMAN.
David was full of broken flaws, but God never left David. Sweat tears, mistakes from King David and yet faithfulness continued from God. The northern and southern kingdoms of Israel were united under King David. It took time, some challenges, some failures, but with God’s direction, David was the leader that the people needed.
In our Gospel today, we see division amongst those who knew Jesus as a boy, they had seen him in those in between years where we know so little about and they listened to Jesus and are divided.
The people of his hometown can’t believe that Jesus is claiming such authority. They KNEW him, they changed his diapers, they saw him when he got his first tooth and when he lost his first tooth. They had been WITH him all of his life. Where was this authority coming from? They chose to stay apart rather than come together and follow Jesus.
And Jesus says to his disciples after this experience, “go out into the world and share what you know about me” YOU ARE the equipment, you don’t need much else, YOU are the manual for how others can believe. And if there is rejection, do as I did in Nazareth:
Go to the next town.
Don’t make a big deal just keep doing the work with those who will listen.
And in our gospel you hear these words, “Shake the dust off your feet.”
Now dust is mentioned a lot in the bible J….
Remember God created the heavens and the earths and the dry lands
Remember Adam was created out of the dust.
Remember it’s the dusty dry bones of Ezekiel where God breathes in new life.
Remember it is in the dust of the desert the Jesus is tempted and has angels wait upon him
Remember we are dust and to dust we shall return, we say on Ash Wednesday.
Remember Jesus washed the dust from his disciples feet at the last Supper as the example of the leadership they too were to have.
When Jesus is talking about dust, he says to give those who do not accept you to God.
Do not fear the dust of failure
Do not fear the dust of rejection
And also do not become indifferent, do not become numb, or lose hope.
Remember only the God who breathes new life into old bones and dust itself can also bring resurrection, give new life.
Jesus says, “Let those who do not accept you, -this message, this hope, this joy, this love- leave that rejection to God. God is in charge of giving new life, of changing lives, yours may not be the voice with which God’s love might be heard but this should not silence your voice.”
Continue to strive to speak hope and love and strive even more so to listen.
Remember, Jesus did a lot of walking and talking.
He did not stay in one place.
People who met with him, who walked with him- literally got covered in dust.
Perhaps we should focus less on the dusting off our feet and instead getting so close to Jesus that we are covered in his dust. (Imagery shared with me from a leader from Happening in North Carolina. WOW, right?)
All of the work that we do is covered in God’s thumbprint of the dust of hope, joy, love, freedom from earthly burdens.
Perhaps the handy manual we have for putting our world back together again has been within our hands all along through pausing, listening, recognizing and acting in love for loving our neighbor and ourselves.
This calling is hot and dusty and exactly the work Jesus did for each of us.
We are the instruments, we are the equipment, you don’t need much to do this work but a heart full of love, a willingness to learn and be transformed, and being intentional with all that you do.
What are you doing with the dust in your life?