Sermon,  Sermons

Instruments of Reconciliation

sermon video, pt1. Click for part 2

So most of you know I run most mornings, and it is nearly always on that longs stretch of Paterson Road. And since I’ve been here a year now and seen the entire cycle of farming corn – learning a great deal about it in that time – I’ve made a few observations:

Timing is everything. Certain corn seed work best when planted after a specific time following specific environmental and weather conditions.

The weather can help one crop flourish and decimate another.

And when you plant corn seed, you expect corn. When you plant soybean seed you expect soybean plants. So, when I run, fields on either side of me, and see pops of brilliant yellows and purest of cornflower blues adorning the edges, the beauty of it, well, it takes my breath away. Which isn’t great for running. So I take pictures!

I’m fairly confident that farmers do not plant these yellow and blue flowers in their fields. They just happen. They serve no other purpose than to embellish the fields.

And they are necessary.

Except that cornflowers are now endangered. Because of an over use of herbicides. Life happens and beauty is created. Until we are overzealous and sanitize, weed out – deracinate – more than the unproductive or harmful bits, and eradicate beauty . . . along with indicators that might alert us to danger – the herbicides and insecticides could be poisoning us, too.

I wonder if we do a similar thing with each other when remaining focused on one aspect of one thing – and overlook the beauty and the caution to consider the larger picture (stop and smell the cornflowers)

Someone from our congregation who has not been able to attend church, watches the service as it goes live on our Facebook page. She read through last Sunday’s sermon and left a comment on the church’s website. I wanted to share the comment with you because it is insightful, and she will not have the opportunity to share here with us during our coffee hour.

“This morning I sat and read about the Reconciling Action. It has given me a whole new insight of myself. I realize I need to listen to others and possibly look at myself in a different way. Thank you for helping me realize this. I’m hoping I now can look at my sister who is getting weaker and find ways to help her with her struggle. I feel I have been too wrapped up in my own feelings.”

What happens when our perspective is altered because of a dear relationship?

Bishop Richard Wilke: A Plea to the United Methodist Church

Our word for the day:


1. A tool or instrument used to gain knowledge

2. A set of guiding principles for a particular science, philosophy, or discipline

“The internet was my organon of choice when doing research for school.”

“The scientist abided by an organon of peer-reviewed documents, books, and studies to inform her work.”

sermon video, part 2

What is our organon? Are we using social media? or a particular news agency? to inform what we believe? Or how we translate or apply interpretation of God’s revelation to us?

Because, in the Wesleyan tradition we understand God’s revelation to us in several ways (the so-called Wesleyan Quadrilateral): scripture, tradition, reason, experience.

God is revealed to us through people in our lives – family, friends, co-workers – and know the revelation of God in scripture, tradition, reason, experience.

The canon of Scripture wasn’t even compiled/reduced until several hundred years after Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Absolutely, God is revealed through the Scriptures. But the Scripture is not God. It is living and active, yes – but living in the sense that God is revealed as we read it – in the way that we read it, the way it speaks to the heart – when we have ears to hear.

What was previously Lost is now found.

I wonder if the idea of changing our perspective on a matter – which previously we considered sinful (surely they’re going to hell for this) we might feel something like the sibling to the prodigal son.

You see, the sin of the prodigal son was not that he spent all his money. That he drank too much or ate more than he needed. It wasn’t even that he had sex with multiple women. The sin of the prodigal son was that he thought he didn’t need anyone else – or that anyone else counted on him. The prodigal son thought that all he needed was a bunch of money and to find all the ways he could be entertained, feel “good,” to live a full life.

When he found it was hollow, that those who were his friends when he was the life of the party, but tossed him aside like grain for the pigs, he “came to his senses” and knew exactly where he belonged.

And because what God calls sin has nothing to do with whatever thing a person does, and everything to do with being in right relationship with one another and God, the dutiful son – doing all the “right” things – became indignant. When the dutiful son forgets that it has nothing to do with the things we do, per se, he becomes just as much the “sinner” as his brother. Not until he recognizes why he stays, what actually does belong to him – belonging itself, for one, and all the rights of an heir – then he too is reconciled with the father.

When we let go of what we call “sin” – it isn’t our duty to do so, of course – instead of becoming indignant at the thought that, wow, women who wear men’s clothing are not actually going to hell, or whatever we took out of context from the Bible and called it sin (weaving wool and linen together; women wearing braids or jewelry, etc.) – moving past the thought: well, I never did those things, I worked so hard not to do them, but now I have to believe it is actually ok? As soon as we move beyond that, and really search scripture for God’s heart on the matter, it is possible to see God working in/through that other person.

If we are more concerned about being right with God and with one another, our eyes see much, much more in each other. Instead of looking at a cornfield, and anything other than corn must be deracinated because it’s cornfield, after all – our organon of crop farming will include an appreciation for (experience) the stunning pops of color that bring beauty to the process and indicate (reason) that the corn is actually really great for people eat.

God’s revelation speaks to us. Indeed, Jesus (Mk12:30-31) refers to Deut6:4-5 as the greatest law: Listen, Hear, Shema, O Isreal, love God with everything. The second? Love your neighbor as yourself. God says Listen! Hear! Because that is how we love: listen to each other – not just the ones who, on the surface believe exactly as you do, or with whom you feel comfortable.

Love God with everything, and love everyone else. No other commandment is greater than these!”

            A prayer attributed to St Frances of Assisi: Lord, make me an

Instrument of Peace – Paul Coleman Trio (City on a Hill)

And when Your Spirit washes over me

Lord, search my soul
It’s so hard, letting go
Lord, break this chain
Just let mercy remain

Make me an instrument of peace
Make me a vessel of Your love
Make me a minister of reconciliation in this world
Make me a picture of Your grace
Make me a portrait of Your face
Make me a minister of reconciliation in this world

Lord, hear my prayer
And in faith, I declare
I-I, take this step
To forgive and forget


And when Your Spirit washes over me
Here in Your kingdom without end
I will forgive my, friends and enemies
Again, again, again
Again, again, again and again
I will forgive

Forgive, forgive, forgive, forgive

Make me an instrument of peace
Make me a vessel of Your love
Make me a minister of reconciliation in this world