the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Year B - Ordinary 22

Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9
Psalm 15
James 1:17-27
Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Acceptance, Community, Mercy, Grace

In the movie Chocolat, the young Priest gives a sermon at Easter that is, itself, the theme, the lesson of the movie:
I want to talk about Christ’s humanity, I mean how he lived his life on earth: his kindness, his tolerance. We must measure our goodness, not by what we don’t do, what we deny ourselves, what we resist, or who we exclude. Instead, we should measure ourselves by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include.
(Carla Thompson Powell, Livonia, MI)

The small French town has been kept "clean" by the Comte de Reynaud and his family ever since the first Comte ran off the Huguenots. He controls everything, even writing the young priest's sermons. He is meticulous, especially in observing Lent. But Vianne and her daughter comes to town and opens a Chocolate shop, during Lent, which magically feeds the needs of those who eat it. The Comte knows she must be stopped. Before long, some "River Rats" (including Roux, who romances Vianne) also come along. There is a battle between these "clean" forces and the "unclean." Although before long it becomes obvious that those who are "unclean" are living out a life of goodness. (Darrel Manson, Artesia, CA)

The movie, Chocolat, presents a wonderful opportunity to talk about the nature of evil, the goodness of creation, and the reality that nothing human is alien to us. Just as is true of the Biblical stories, something of every character lives inside each of us. The people whom we like the least can function as blessings to invite us to look at those aspects of ourselves which we dislike or of which we are ashamed, and which we therefore project onto others in order to avoid meeting them in ourselves - and therefore cutting ourselves off from the possibility of opening them to God's love, (which accepts all of us - not just the "good" parts) and allowing it to heal and transform us so that we may live life from our true center, which is Love - and which is the only power more powerful than the power and the reality of Evil. (Senter Crook)

It is no accident that all four of our scriptures this morning speak of the good and the evil that comes from within the heart of every man.

God is a just god. He loves us all very much. He wants us to love Him and to get along with each other.

Acceptance. He wants us to be accepting people who look past the differences in color, religion, politics, and sexual orientation.

Community. He wants us to live in community as a diverse people who love him and depend on the talents He has given each of us to complement our own talents. Living in community means living in cooperation.

Mercy. God is merciful. He wants us to be merciful too. Places in scripture that the KJV translates the original text as “mercy”, the RSV uses the phrase “Loving Kindness.” For that is what mercy is. Jesus, John, Paul and James all tell us that the heart of our faith, the center of being in God’s favor is that we Love our neighbor as ourselves.

Grace. Grace is the gift of God that we don’t deserve, and can’t earn. The apostle Paul tells us that “even while we were (are) sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus told us that “God so loved the world (you, me, and all peoples everywhere) that He gave his only Son, that whosoever believeth in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life. It’s like the hymn the children sing at Bible School:

Jesus loves the little children.
All the children of the world.
Red and Yellow, Black and White
They are precious in his sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Paul says it this way, “[we] are saved by Grace through Faith, it is the gift of God, and that not of [ourselves]...”

Thanks be to God.

Let us Pray

Deliver us, Lord, from every evil
and grant us peace in our day.
Keep us from formalism and lip-service
in obeying your commandments.
Help us to serve you and people
in freedom and responsibility
and let love inspire all we do,
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.
For the Kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
both now and for evermore.


Blogger Jared Cramer said...

good quote from an excellent movie. thanks.

9/02/2006 11:43 AM  
Blogger the tentmaker said...

Thanks, Jared.

I enjoy reading your blog. I have it blogrolled for easy reference.

9/03/2006 9:05 AM  

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