Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Power Within Us: A Story From My Sermon This Morning

My sermon was based on Ephesians 3:14-21, I told and did not read this story, but thought I would share it with you...)

What does this deeply rooted and grounded power look like?......

I was invited to go to the Capital one day this week, to be part of a group of pastors and other leaders, and to go with a group construction workers, trained at a place called Summit Academy, which especially trains women and minorities for this kind of work. This kind of training is a way out of poverty for people, because, as the director of Summit Academy says, "The best social service program in the world is a job." But even though it is construction season in Minnesota, and even though there is more work than ever because of the Federal Stimulus dollars coming to us, the Summit Academy people have not been able to get work with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. So we were there to talk to the Commissioner about hiring some of these trained people. We prayed, a couple of the leaders testified, and then one person started to lead us all in a song, an old song from the civil rights movement, called "Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around, turn me around, turn me around...." I didn't know it before we started, but I knew it by time we were done!

There are a lot of verses in this song, but one of them that kept recurring is "Ain't gonna let the jail house turn me around..." and I have to say, I was a little annoyed by this, because I don’t want to go to jail. I wasn't sure what was so compelling about the jailhouse. Because deep within me, I was thinking, BAD people go to jail. Good people don’t go to jail.

At one point I could hear this young African-American man, wearing a construction helmet (so I knew he was one of the workers) say, "Sing the jailhouse one!", and then turn to his friend and say, "That’s my favorite verse."

And though I am in no way advocating jail, I did later reflect that there have been some occasions and in some communities where good people have gone to jail:

The apostle Paul, for example,
the women who were suffragettes, advocating for women’s right to vote,
Dr. Martin Luther King and others in the civil rights movement.

They were rooted and grounded in something they knew was right, something they believed in,
but sometimes there were setbacks, and sometimes they experienced conflict and failure, and sometimes they even went to jail.

So the apostle encourages us to know, in the times when we are discouraged, in the times when we have failed, in the times when we are in jail, even jails of our own making
– that there is a power at work within us, a power at work within us building something greater than we can imagine.
There is a point at work within us, in the great works that we do, and in our ordinary, small daily lives,
and that is the power of the love of God, that is the power of Jesus, it is the power that kept Jesus going on the way to the cross, and it is the power that raised him to life.
It is the power of God’s love, and it is working in prisons and in schools and in households and in neighborhoods, and inside human hearts, healing, uniting, bringing God's mercy and peace..


FranIAm said...

I loved this - love it! I long to sit in a church and hear you preach one day, I truly do.

Jennifer said...

What a great way to frame and describe the power of God's love. Thanks!

Barbara B. said...

I agree with Fran -- someday I'd like to hear you preach!

Rev SS said...

This is excellent! thanks.