Posted on Thu, Jul 8, 2010
Sermon for July 4, 2010
Dear Trinity Friends: This is the sermon I had prepared and would have preached if we had made it back from Mexico on time.
Good for One; Good for Us All
Rev. Jim Merritt
July 4, 2010
Trinity MCC, Gainesville
I woke up in the early hours of Wednesday morning, a little before 5AM Central, with you and this sermon on my mind. Along with it I had a song in my heart that reminded me as soon as I opened my eyes, “Jesus is the sweetest name I know, and he’s just the same as his lovely name. And that’s the reason why I love him so. Jesus is the sweetest name I know.” I stand before you this morning having returned from another of “Rev. Jim’s Adventures” to tell you that those words are true. No matter where life has taken me, including some wonderful places, nothing has ever stirred my heart the way Jesus does. Nothing is as beautiful, nothing is as exciting, nothing is a peaceful, nothing brings tears to my eyes faster than Jesus. And so I feel called to testify again this morning that the amazing, overwhelming, extravagant, radical love of Jesus has revolutionized my life, my work and my very existence. Falling in love with Jesus as a little boy in the Baptist Sunday School is the best thing I ever did. And the very good news is that the love of Jesus reaches way beyond me this morning. It includes you and you and you and you and the “them’s” and the “others” and all of us. Because when God does something good for one of us, God does something good for all of us. The love of God is good for us all. Would you pray with me?
Let’s think together about some attributes we can develop that are both good for our own lives and good for us all.
Gentleness: Paul writes to the Galatians about a spirit of gentleness. Let me remind all of us that he is writing about a situation where a member or members of the group have acted out in some way that caused disunity in the community. Paul tells the leaders, “restore them with a spirit if gentleness.” I want to share with you, that is not the way I have experienced it in church. Usually there is no restoration at all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a well-meaning church person shout out with the threat, “I’m taking it to the Pastor,” or “I’m taking it to the church. You know I have an inquiring mind and I do like to know AND I do not like to be used as a weapon in peoples’ personal struggles. I want my ministry to be known as a peacemaking ministry. I want this place to be known as a place of peace. God is calling us this morning to establish ourselves as a community that treats one another with gentleness, kindness and appreciation. Paul says, handle your problems with Gentleness and therefore who the world that Christ lives in you. My sisters and brothers, that is good for us as individuals and it is also good for us all.
Paul also tells us to bear one another’s burdens. You’ve heard many phrases around this. “A burden shared is half a burden,” is one of the ones I like so much. And there are examples of this all around here. I love it when I get a voice mail or an email saying something like, “I went to see ___today and this is what’s happening.” “I went to visit ___today and he or she needs this or that. And I love it even more when I discover that someone has been quietly looking after another whose need is greater than their own. It happens a lot and still it is a characteristic we need to encourage. Bear one another’s burdens. Never let anyone suffer alone. Never let anyone cry alone. Let us always be that Spirit presence for each other when times are difficult. It’s good for us. It’s like paying it forward. It’s good karma. It’s our calling to bear one another’s burdens. Why? Because it’s good for us as individuals and it’s good for all of us.
Finally, Paul tells the Galatians to work together for the good of all. For the good of all. Say it with me “FOR THE GOOD OF ALL.” That means we work for the good of all in Gainesville and all around the world. That means we work for the good of people from all socioeconomic levels. It means we work for the good of all regardless of the color of their skin. It means we work together for the good of all regardless of what faith they practice. Why? Because it’s good for all of us! I always remember these words on Independence Day in the United States of America.
"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Sisters and brothers, Trinity MCC in Gainesville, let us lift our lamps, too. Let us lift of the lamp of salvation, the lamp of gentleness, the lamp of burdens shared, the lamp of Good for ALL people, knowing that if we sow the spirit we will reap from the Spirit, eternal life.
“God we thank you for these words written many years ago that continue by your Spirit to guide us and inspire us for the good of all. Bless us as we lift the lamp of salvation that not only we, but all of us might inherit from your Spirit the gift of eternal life in the presence of God. In the many names of Jesus we pray. AMEN.”
Old Testament Reading Psalm 30
I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit. Sing praises to the Lord, O you faithful ones, and give thanks to God’s holy name. For God’s anger is but for a moment; God’s favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” By your favor, O Lord, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed. To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I made supplication: “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!” You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
New Testament Reading Galatians 6: 1-18
My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads. Those who are taught the word must share in all good thingswith their teacher. Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit.So let us not grow wearyin doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.