QUESTIONS DEEPEN OUR FAITH
I invited your questions about God and the church. I asked not because I have all the answers (I don't) but because a church that doesn't invite questions in favor of shallow answers is more interested in maintaining the institution than deepening faith. Here they are, broken into categories. I will attempt to respond to them in sermons, in newsletters, in Facebook live videos...whatever way I can. I was in tears reading them. May you know that you are not alone in your questioning, beloved. We are so lucky to be fellow travelers on the journey.
Questions about how hard it is to love human beings:
Questions for the Pastor/Questions about our church:
Questions about the role of Church and the Bible in people’s lives:
The “Big Questions”/Ultimacy questions:
Questions about God’s gender:
Personal questions for God:
preached on March 17, 2019
at the First Church in Sterling, MA
by Rev. Robin Bartlett
Love will stitch humanity together. Love heals; love restores; love mends. It takes time, but love mends.
I just can’t shake the sadness that the city in New Zealand in which the hateful slaughter of 50 Muslims at prayer was named Christchurch. The terrorist who committed this atrocity was poisoned by the heresy of “Christian” white supremacy. He didn’t just shatter the sanctity of the mosques with his death dealing. He shattered the sanctity of Christchurch and Christ’s church. He shattered the sanctity of prayer. He shattered the sanctity of humanity, raining bullets of hate on God-imaged people. In the Koran, it says that killing one person is killing all of humanity. On Thursday, all of humanity was killed once again.
White supremacist, extremist right-wing terrorism is on the rise. A study came out that this month that said almost two-thirds of terror attacks in the (United States) last year were by white men and tied to racist, anti-Muslim, homophobic, anti-Semitic, fascist, anti-government, or xenophobic motivations.
As the Church we must clearly and unequivocally say NOT IN OUR NAME. Not in Christ’s name.
If you know folks who think that terrorism goes hand in hand with Islam, please do your best to correct the record. If you are one of those folks, please do your best to learn something different.
To repent means to re-think. This Lent, cross the borders of creed and culture to know differently through love, as Christ taught us. And join us at the Worcester Islamic Center on Wednesday, March 20th to have dinner with our Muslim friends, learn something new about God, and show our love and support. If you can’t come, write a prayer for our friends there on our prayer banner. Our friend, Mona Ives has gone to every vigil for every tragedy after September 11, 2001 to lend her Muslim voice to say “not in our name.” She has spent her adult life trying to undo the image of Muslims as terrorists by speaking in interfaith spaces and educating non-Muslims. She couldn’t even go to the vigil at her own Worcester Islamic Center on Friday. She was too tired, too heart sore, too exhausted trying to convince white Christians that she is worthy of dignity and life.
We are all weary. Our humanity is slowly being murdered hour by hour, day by day, by forces of hate and fear beyond our control.
As Christ’s church, we must learn the unforced rhythms of grace. Come to Jesus. As Love’s people, we must re-humanize one another, repair what has been broken, and return to God.
If the Church were Christian, gracious behavior would be more important the right belief, Phillip Gulley says. If the church were Christian our job titles would simply be: Professional Lovers of God and People.
The Christian church plays a part in anti-Muslim, anti-semitic ideology. One of the heresies of the Christian church is the idea that we have somehow cornered the market on Truth. If we want to stop the rise of ideological extremism that leads to white supremacist terrorism, now is the time to re-claim the values of Jesus.
Too often, this book about Jesus has torn people apart. There are many who believe that God himself wrote it with God’s holy pen. There is a “right” way to read it, and a “wrong” way. Every word, some say, is literally true, God-ordained and should hold up in every age and culture.
When I came to First Church, I would ask occasionally why a long time member left years ago. “They said they wanted a church that was more bible based,” was sometimes the answer. That always confused me. It took me awhile to figure out that this was code for “they wanted a church that didn’t marry gay people,” or “they wanted a church that was less inclusive of different understandings of God.”
So let me just be clear. This church is most certainly Bible-based. This church’s foundational text is, in fact, the Bible. The shimmering, clear, God-kissed message of this complex and rich and sometimes problematic story of God’s people is unfailing, indestructible love. And the Law of Love always wins over the letter of the law.
Folks think that people like me cherry pick the texts to make God into who I want God to be—a social justice warrior who loves and accepts everyone. A liberal snowflake God, if you will. And maybe that’s true.
The truth is, we are all being selective about which parts of the Bible to take more seriously than others. That is no more true of religious progressives than it is of religious conservatives. We all pick and choose. I just happen to admit it.
So let’s ALL stop cherry-picking to use this text as a weapon against our opponents and instead re-claim the values of Jesus.
Jesus was also asked to choose which parts of the text were the most important, too. In perhaps the most famous text in the Gospels, He was asked by a lawyer which commandment was the greatest. He answered “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And the second commandment, he said, is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Loving others is how you love God, Jesus said. Love, not doctrine, is the only thing Jesus really went to the mat for. Love is what he lived and died for.
If the Church were Christian, mirroring the compassion of Jesus would be more important than echoing the orthodoxy built up around him.
Jesus taught that compassion is a verb not an adjective.
Who remembers what story Jesus tells when the lawyer asks him who is neighbor is?
In the Good Samaritan, Jesus tells the story of a man crossing the street to save a bleeding victim of a robbery; a bleeding man avoided by a priest and a Levite. The man who helped and healed and brought him to safety was a Samaritan. Jesus was a Jew. Jews and Samaritans hated each other. But it is the Samaritan who crosses the borders of race, creed and religious law to heal. And so Jesus calls his so-called enemy “good.”
“Go and do likewise,” Jesus says.
“Hello, Brother.” That’s what the first victim of Thursday’s white supremacist terrorist attack said to the gunman as he entered the Al noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. 71 year old grandfather Daod Nabi called his killer “Brother” before he was murdered. We know this because the carnage was filmed live for 17 minutes and broadcast on the internet in real time, all over the world.
That video was 17 minutes of hate, but what we will remember is Daod Nabi. The killer wanted his message spread, but we will spread Nabi’s message instead.
As he faced a rifle, Daod spoke peaceful words of unconditional love. That’s as much a profound statement about who he believed God to be as it is about who Daod was.
He resisted letting his killer’s hate become his own, even as he faced down the barrel of a gun. He stayed faithful to the God who made us all brothers and sisters, to his last breath.
“Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do,” Jesus cried out on the cross as he took his last breaths. He did not let even his murderer’s hate become his own. He sees in his enemies the face of a brother and sister, and asks for their forgiveness.
Re-claim the values of Jesus. Re-claim the values of Love. Love mends. Love restores. Love heals.
I spent the weekend at a UU Christian Fellowship revival trying to get closer to God by learning fiber arts, of all things. They kept trying to teach me to knit and to mend, and I kept failing.
It is probably a sign of my generation more than anything else to say that I don’t know how to mend things. This was not true of my parents and grandparents. Clothes used to cost more in their day, and things were made to function and last. My mother made a lot of my clothes as a young child. My grandmother and mother patched holes in jeans, darned socks, hemmed clothes.
Now when I get a hole in a garment or even lose a button, I throw it away and buy a new one. I’m not proud of this…I’m just telling you the truth.
I’m not the only one who treats my clothing as expendable. I found out this weekend that the fashion industry is second only to oil as one of the primary polluters of the world. God help me to repent of this habit for the sake of your creation.
God doesn’t see us as expendable. You and I may not know how to mend…garments or relationships or our own brokenness or the world torn asunder…but God does. We may throw what we create away, but God doesn’t. God saves the pieces, and carefully stitches us back together into whole cloth.
Elizabeth Spelman says that “repair is the creative destruction of brokenness.”
After the flood in which he destroys the world and starts over, God re-recreates humanity with the remnant of what is left. And then God promises us with a rainbow never to destroy us again. Now when God makes us new, she doesn’t throw us away in a scrap heap and start over. God continually repairs and reinforces us until we are strong at the broken places. God gives us one another.
We need to be in the business of mending, repairing, of healing, of RESTORATION together. Together, resistance and reconciliation is holy work. Together, we are a force for love in the world. Together, we have as many chances to see the face of God as we have people to meet and know. Together, we have everything.
Gather up all the fragments, beloved. Of your family, of your community, of our county, of our world. And get to mending.
A sermon preached by Rev. Robin Bartlett
at the First Church in Sterling, MA
on the first day of Lent, 2019
March 10, 2019
In Jesus’ upside down kingdom, the Power of Love overcomes the Love of power.
”Do not put The Lord Your God to the test,” Jesus says. I translate that: “Do not put Love to the test.”
Love wins. Every time.
When we baptized Mia and Olivia, I dedicated them to the service of truth, and the practice of compassion. I dedicated them to the ways of peace, beauty, and love. These aren’t easy tasks to dedicate a person to.
Over the course of their lifetimes, they will constantly have to be reminded of who they are, who they’ve chosen to be, and who God has called them to be. Because those things will be put to the test all the time. Especially in middle school, amen?
Satan, the accuser, stands ready to claim us as his own, manipulating our human desire for power and control when we are tired and starving. Willing us to choose power over peace.
We have to stand firm and say, “Do not put love to the test.”
Because there will always be people who try to get you to question who you are.
Jennifer Senior says that “purity tests are the tools of fanatics, and the quest for purity ultimately becomes indistinguishable from the quest for power” in an article from the New York Times I read yesterday. The article had nothing to do with Church (it was about the cancel culture in teen literature). But it reminded me of the ways in which denominations are tearing themselves apart right now, not for Love of God, but for love of power.
All of the human groups you and I are involved in have purity tests. From the “clean eating” movement to the mommy wars; from political activist circles to religious denominations.
There is a language we are supposed to know, and a group of norms we must not stray from. There is a a “right” way and a “wrong” way to be a patriot, a parent, a conservative, a liberal. There is a right way and a wrong way to be part of the group. There are ways to signal you are “in,” and ways to be summarily ousted.
Even slacker moms like me try to out-slacker the other slacker moms. “I forgot to feed my kid breakfast today.” “Oh yeah? That’s nothing. I forgot to feed my kid breakfast all week.”
The only people who can pass the purity tests administered by the standard-bearers of these groups are those most untainted by the poison of nuance and complexity. In other words, none of us, including the standard-bearers themselves.
The Church has historically attracted people who desire power and authority, and who have a tendency to abuse that power. This is because the Church has historically attracted humans. (And one more time for those who missed it last week: the Church is not God.)
Church wars throughout the ages have been fought by the standard-bearers over these questions, among others: Is slavery ordained by God? Should women be ministers? Should priests be celibate? Should gay people be ordained or married? Should wives submit to their husbands? Who should be allowed to take communion?
The answers to these questions by church leaders have often had more to do with a desire for power and control of other people’s bodies than a desire to live as Jesus did.
Not all power and authority in the Church is used for bad, of course. Phillip Gulley suggests that the question for the church’s leadership should always be: "Does (the use of authority) build others up or does it put them down?”
If the Church were Christian, Phillip Gulley says, peace would be privileged over power. Putting people down is an act of power, and building others up is an act of peace. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” If the Church were Christian, its leaders would be a constant check against fanaticism disguised as purity. If the Church were Christian, it’s leadership would look for ways to lift up those who are cast out, build them up, and follow their lead. Love would be the only “test” we would administer to determine worth. Mercy and forgiveness would be our study habits. Grace would be the only way to “pass.”
In the Church, scripture is considered authoritative. Therefore it makes sense that the Church’s weapon of choice in the quest for purity and power is the ancient words in this book. But this book is not God. In fact, Jesus taught us that we can judge the authority of scripture based on whether it builds others up or puts them down.
That’s our lesson from today’s scripture. Anyone can quote scripture out of context. I can. You can. The devil can quote scripture, too. But Love will always win.
In our passage from the Gospel of Luke on this first Sunday of Lent, Jesus is bone tired. He is literally famished after fasting in the wilderness for forty days. He is weak and exhausted. He is in a state of utter desperation, both mentally and physically.
It is at this point when Satan puts him to the test.
Jesus is offered bread at his hungriest. “If you are the son of God, turn this stone to bread,” Satan says. Jesus turns him down. “It is written, ‘one does not live by bread alone,’” he says.
The devil leads him up to the top of a mountain, and shows Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world. “To you I will give all of the glory and authority, if you worship me.” And Jesus says, “It is written, worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”
Then, Satan brings him to the pinnacle of the temple. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here.” And then, catching on to Jesus’ affinity for the Word of God, Satan quotes the words of the psalm we read this morning: “for it is written,” Satan says, “he will command his angels concerning you, to protect you.”
Even the devil can quote scripture.
Jesus says to him, “do not put the Lord God to the test.”
“Do not put Love to the test,” Jesus says.
The identity test for Jesus is not so much a test of who he is, but how he will live out his identity as Son of God. The devil knows perfectly well who Jesus is. The devil does not question who Jesus is, but tries to get Jesus to question who he is -- and Jesus does not fall for it.
There will always be people who try to make you question who you are. The test is not so much a test of who you are, but how you will live out your identity as beloved by God.
This past summer, I received a message to the First Church in Sterling Facebook page. It was from a Facebook profile with a picture of a man wearing Nazi insignia on his sleeve, though I failed to realize that when I first read his message. He asked me if our church was welcoming to people in interracial marriages and to the LGBTQ community. Naively, I answered him cheerfully in the affirmative. “Yes, all are welcome. We believe all people are children of God.”
When he received my response, he proceeded to answer me by quoting long scripture passages about the immorality of black people and white people inter-marrying, and scriptures advocating that homosexuals be put to death. I responded by blocking him and reporting him.
Soon afterward, he gave our church a one star review on Facebook saying that “this church and its minister are false prophets who fail to take into account the truth of scripture, and they block you rather than admit they are harmful liars.” And then he posted a picture of his gun on his profile with veiled threats to harm people who “do not take the word of God seriously.”
Our church responded by leaving dozens of five star reviews on our Facebook page.
Kristin Turner wrote: “The thing about love is - it doesn’t run out. We’ve been given bountiful, overflowing, endless, grace and love. At First Church it’s yours. We love First Church because it encourages us and reminds us to share love as Jesus did, carelessly, with all, especially those who have trouble loving us back, especially those who hate us, or who are hard to love. Often the people hardest to love, need love and grace the most - and thankfully, we’ve been blessed with enough of both to share it.”
Ann Taft wrote: “First Church of Sterling literally saved my life. After being hospitalized for major depression and suicidal ideation, my first public outing was to First Church. I was met with such unequivocal LOVE. As an ex-Catholic, I feel welcome here. My family who are atheists feel welcome here. My family who are American Baptist feel welcome here. I’m also proud that my children are being raised in a community where they are not told “Believe this,” or “Don’t believe that,” but are instead asked “What do you believe, Beloved?”
Jayne Perkins wrote: “This loving church community will love the hate out of our world by spreading love to all. Those who write lies about us are easily noticed as they contradict everything we are. But we will pray for every person who has hate in their heart. Especially those who create bots to spread their horrible messages.
God is LOVE. Love will always win.”
DO NOT PUT LOVE TO THE TEST. Not when First Church is on the job.
The post has since been removed, but perhaps the most beautiful moment was when the First Church “mob” started engaging with the man’s post on our page, citing Bible passages about loving your neighbor and the enemy. “We’ll pray for you. We believe you, too, are beloved by God, internet Nazi.” Jeff Maxwell even invited him out to coffee. I told him that was a bad idea.
The internet troll eventually left us alone because we bored him with our love, and he disappeared into the ether. His hate did not become your hate.
There will always be people who try to get you to question who you are, who will try and put you to the test. The test is not so much a test of who you are, but how you will live out your identity as beloved by God.
Here’s a reminder:
You are made in the image of God, all of you. You were fearfully and wonderfully made, and created for God’s glory. You are known and named Beloved. You were called to build bridges, not walls. “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” You were called to be the hands and feet of THAT peace. The Power of Love will overcome the Love of power because of YOU. The Church was made for such a time as this because the Church is YOU. Even the devil can quote scripture. But you—you must never forget who you are.
Bring peace where there is no peace. There is no time but now, no people but us, and no way forward without turning toward each other.
A Sermon for Transfiguration Sunday
preached on March 3, 2019
at the First Church in Sterling, MA
by Rev. Robin Bartlett
Patti Griffin wrote the song, "Up to the Mountain" for Dr. Martin Luther King, based on the prescient "Mountaintop speech” he gave right before he died, recalling the words of the prophet Moses.
“We’ve got some difficult days ahead,” King told an overflowing crowd in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3rd, 1968, where the city’s sanitation workers were striking. “But it really doesn’t matter to me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop … I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”
Make no mistake about this: Dr. King was not the vaunted hero he is now. Listening to him meant asking for trouble. Listening to Dr. King meant crossing boundaries. Following him was dangerous. He was, in fact, one of the most hated men in America the year that he died, with a 75% disapproval rating in polls. Less than 24 hours after giving the mountaintop speech, Dr. King was assassinated.
When I’m tired and despairing about the world as it is, I play this song. I imagine singing it to Dr. King. I imagine Dr. King singing it to Moses. I imagine Jesus singing it to God: the Father he called “Daddy.”
“Sometimes I just lay down, no more can I do. But then I go on again, because you asked me to.”
Here’s what we know from the biblical prophets, from Dr. King, from Jesus: We will get to the Promised Land. It may not be in our lifetimes. But we keep going on again, because God asks us to.
There’s a reason God is often speaking to people on the tops of mountains. Sometimes like the disciples, we need to be up high to see. We need a revelatory experience to appreciate who God is. We need to see a vision of the Realm of God; the Kingdom of Heaven; the promised land. (What does that look like? Help me preach this sermon).
Once we get a glimpse of all that, we need to come back down and create it here, right where we are.
In our Transfiguration scripture from Luke, Jesus asked three of his friends, Peter, James and John to follow him up to the top of a mountain to pray. As he was praying, a grand supernatural event occurs, and Jesus’ appearance changes. He is bathed in a warm, white light, and he is transfigured before them. Suddenly, Elijah and Moses appear in the clouds.
And God’s voice booms out “This is my Son, the Chosen. Listen to him.”
Peter, James and John had been about to fall asleep, but luckily they stayed awake for this moment. They are appropriately amazed. “Listen to him?” They think. “I can do that.”
“It is good to be here,” they say to Jesus. “We like hanging out with you like this, chillin’ with Moses and Elijah and God,” they say. They say, “let us make three places for each of you to live, and we’ll just hang here forever, listening to you.”
I’m sure it was good to be there—far above the hot mess down below. Up there, Peter, James and John could just worship their Lord. They could listen to his stories, sing some Christian rock, put up their Jesus hands and sway: “my God is an awesome God”….feeling blissful and above it all FOREVER.
Unfortunately, Jesus made them leave.
It turns out that “listening to him” didn’t mean gathering up his words like golden nuggets and using them later out of context as a weapon against other people. Listening to him didn’t mean worshipping him on a mountaintop and shutting out the world. Listening to him meant following him down the mountain the next day. Listening to him meant listening to the fathers who are begging, “heal my son.” Listening to Jesus meant casting out the demons that threaten to swallow up a faithless and perverse generation.
Make no mistake about this: Jesus was not the vaunted hero he is now. Listening to Jesus meant asking for trouble. Listening to Jesus meant following: crossing boundaries to heal. Following Jesus was dangerous. He was one of the most hated men in Jerusalem just a few weeks after his transfiguration with a near 100% disapproval rating, and he was assassinated.
Like the disciples, we wish it were less dangerous to listen to Jesus. It is easier to stay up on our mountains. It is nicer in our safe church buildings with our gilded crosses and our organs and our polite New England manners. Here, we can listen quietly to Jesus’ sweet words once a week before returning to our lives of relative comfort and prosperity.
We need to ask ourselves what we are willing to risk to follow Jesus down the mountain. We need to ask ourselves what demons we need to cast out of our own faithless culture. We need to ask ourselves what boundaries we are willing to cross to be the people God has called us to be. And we need to ask ourselves who needs our healing.
This year all through Lent we’ll be considering the book, “If the Church Were Christian” by Philip Gulley.
He puts it this way: The church has been too deeply concerned about its own power and wealth. It has insisted upon a level of respect it has not earned, and it has been silent at critical junctures of history. It has far too often aligned itself with the powerful and the immoral, and in the process has neglected its responsibility for the outcast.
Gulley says, if the church were Christian, it would welcome the other unconditionally. If the church were Christian, it would lose its fascination with law and doctrines, it would befriend the poor and marginalized, it would welcome the rejected. If the church were Christian, Gulley says, Jesus would be a model for living rather than an object of worship.
If there is one thing I want you to take away from my sermon today, it is this:
THE CHURCH IS NOT GOD.
It’s been a tough month in the life of the Christian Church.
The Catholic Church had its first ever summit on child sexual abuse by priests, gathered by the Pope. The church leadership listened to survivors tell their stories.
Five anonymous abuse survivors addressed the gathering via a video.
A survivor from Chile said the church's leaders had discredited victims and protected the priests who abused them.
"You are the physicians of the soul and yet, with rare exceptions, you have been transformed, in some cases, into murderers of the soul, into murderers of the faith," he said.
In the Catholic Church, priests are considered to be Christ’s representatives on earth. That’s the theology of priesthood. Imagine the catastrophic spiritual devastation it causes when one’s Priest becomes one’s abuser, and the leadership believes him and not you. God seems no longer accessible to you. It seems that Christ himself has become your abuser.
This was an effective summit; a first step on the path to healing, perhaps.
Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle choked up when he told the gathering that "wounds have been inflicted by us, the bishops, on the victims. ... We need to help them to express their deep hurts and to help heal from them," he said, adding that perpetrators need to face justice.
I want you to hear this again:
The Church is not God.
You were fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God.
What harms your body harms God’s body.
There are many who want to blame this disgusting abuse of power on the Catholic Church as if abuse of power is unique to the Catholic Church.
We found out two weeks ago that since 1998, about 380 Southern Baptist leaders and volunteers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct, according to a sweeping investigation by two Texas newspapers that came out last month.
The Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News also found that in the past 20 years, more than 700 victims have been abused, with some urged to have abortions and forgive their abusers.
As your pastor, I have heard countless stories about the ways in which the Christian churches you grew up in or attended in the past have failed you and victimized you.
Abuse of power happens anywhere power can corrupt, which is any institution human beings are involved in.
So I want you to hear this again:
The Church is not God.
You were fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God.
What harms your body harms God’s body.
What harms your body harms the Body of Christ.
In a contentious meeting years in the making this week, the United Methodist Church—the United States’s third-largest faith community—voted to emphasize its opposition to same-sex marriage and gay clergy. The vote was deeply split, and will probably result in a split of the denomination.
Many American ministers in the United Methodist Church already perform same-sex marriages and approve of the ordination of LGBT people as clergy, although the church’s rules officially forbid these marriages and ordinations.
Many Methodists hoped that the church would amend those rules this week. Instead, a group of more than 800 clergy and lay leaders from around the world voted to affirm the church’s traditional view of sexuality — and to punish disobedient clergy more harshly than before.
I want us to imagine what it might be like to wait your whole lifetime for your church or your denomination to debate your worthiness before granting you full fellowship in the Body of Christ. I want us to imagine what spiritual damage that might inflict upon actual, in the flesh, God-imaged people already endowed with sacred worth by our Creator.
It is literally killing people.
The Reconciling ministries of the UMC had to send out suicide hotline numbers after the vote at the General Conference this week to its thousands of LGBTQ constituents and clergy who have been waiting for a lifetime for their full inclusion in the denomination that raised them up. If one has to send out suicide hotline numbers following a vote of a Christian organization, one can surmise that the action taken may not have been Godly.
I want us to be careful about tooting our own horn in this moment as an open and affirming Christian church. Because far too often we like to notice the speck in our neighbor’s eye without removing the log from our own. I want us to be proud of the work we’ve done to expand our welcome, yes. I want us to lift ourselves up as a healing sanctuary for the folks the Christian church has cast out, yes. I want us to be a public voice for the Christian Church to become more like Jesus, yes, yes, yes.
But at the same time I want us to be able to say, “we’re sorry it took us so long. We will do what we can to reconcile with the God-imaged people we have harmed with our silence and complacency." And then, most importantly, we need to say: “We will be silent no more.”
That’s what it might look like to take a step toward healing, I think.
ONE MORE TIME FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK.
The Church is not God.
What harms your body harms the body of Christ.
God is Love.
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love. It cannot be killed or swept away.
So beloved, join us this Lent to take a step toward healing. Join us to repent for the ways in which the Church has fallen short of the glory of God. Join us this Lent to HEAL the body of Christ, beginning with ourselves. Come down off your mountains! Walk toward trouble, take the highway to the Jesus danger zone, listen to the parents weeping for their children and do something about it. Join us this Lent to bravely follow the most hated man in Jerusalem. Join the Love REVOLUTION! Do not be afraid.
Some days I look down
Afraid I will fall
And though the sun shines
I see nothing at all
Then I hear your sweet voice, oh
Oh, come and then go, come and then go
Telling me softly
You love me so
The peaceful valley
Just over the mountain
The peaceful valley
Few come to know
I may never get there
Ever in this lifetime
But sooner or later
It's there I will go
Sooner or later
It's there I will go
Rev. Robin Bartlett is the Senior Pastor at the First Church in Sterling, Massachusetts. www.fcsterling.org