Who cares what we believe?

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I always know that when Paul Jeanes preaches, I’m going to hear a sermon that speaks to me. I believe we may be kindred heretics, the word some folks use instead of prophet. A prophet is one who has been divinely inspired to speak truth, one who has been granted a power to express a depth of insight that is beyond what we see or hear everyday. It is not a statement about the person but rather about a gift, and one that is not always welcome (“no prophet is welcome in his hometown” Luke 4:24). The prophetic voice speaks to us in a way that turns our long held beliefs upside down and inside out. And like the prophet, the heretic is one who puts forth a provocative way of understanding that is not necessarily at odds with orthodoxy, but may actually make it more accessible to the outcast.

The prophetic words we heard this morning were scandalous! We were told that Easter is not about what we believe. What an odd message to preach to the faithful on Easter Day! Paul went on to say that today, Easter, is actually about what God believes.

Our belief doesn’t make one bit of difference in the redemption story. It doesn’t happen because we believe, it all happened because God believes in his creation! The gospel is, in fact, scandalous good news. In the incarnation God tells us that he isn’t in this thing half-heartedly, he’s all in, he will live our life, he will sit with us when no one else will. God sits with the despised, the unclean. He keeps company with tax collectors, women, the ill and possessed. Christ says I believe, I give my heart to you, I will live your life.

If we have to choose, is it more important for us to believe in God or for God to believe in us? God tells us today that he believes in life over death, in hope over despair, in light over darkness. As much as we may want to, we can’t always believe – we can’t always believe that there is hope in the face of our despair. Paul went on to suggest that when Jesus was laid in the tomb on Good Friday, it wasn’t an empty tomb. All of us were already in the tomb. We were in the darkness, in death. And on Easter morning, when Jesus comes forth out of the tomb, he is telling us to get out of the tomb as well. Out of darkness, out of despair into life, into hope.

Alleluia, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

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About pathawkins

Do you need to know who I am to appreciate this blog? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. Knowing who I am may encourage you to read my posts, or it may encourage you not to bother - but that will say more about you than it says about me! So, just in case it matters, I can tell you that I am a progressive, white, middle-class, middle-aged, pro-choice, married, lesbian, American, Episcopalian woman who has studied psychology, theology and liturgy. I work in a church as well as being a reverse mortgage counselor. I am well educated and fairly well-spoken. But, I'm neither pretentious enough nor arrogant enough to think that my words will change attitudes, much less lives. On the other hand, if my words or images can open a window to another way of looking at something or if they can provide comfort or joy, I know I will be blessed in return.

4 responses to “Who cares what we believe?”

  1. Russ Worthington says :

    Pat – I like it when our clergy help stir our minds. We both know a Bishop who did that so well. We did something like that today, where both Gospel’s were read, as there were choices. The purpose was to compare the two. What I focused on was who the characters were in both readings any why there was a difference. Sort-a makes us think — Thank you for sharing — I like your New look — Congratulations — Russ

    Like

    • pathawkins says :

      Thanks Russ. I love how we can read these texts year after year and see different things in them every time – sometimes because of what is happening in our lives and sometimes just because the Spirit is speaking to us in a different way. I’m blessed to work with a priest who is very similar to the Bishop you mention!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia McMorrow says :

    Beautiful thoughts for a beautiful day. Thank you for sharing them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. pathawkins says :

    Thank you, Pat.

    Like

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