Sermon,  Sermons

Disciple’s Transformation

sermon video. Click for part 2



Reformation Sunday

So when we visited my family in Denver last summer, my mother decided to give me her diamond ring. Our family has never had a lot of money, so precious jewels were of the oh-you’re-so-precious variety that we see in our children. But when my paternal grandmother died, she left a couple heirloom rings to me and a diamond to my mother that she labeled, “of no sentimental value.”

Well, my mom wasn’t a big fan of her mother-in-law either, and a diamond is a diamond! So my dad had it reset into a setting that fit her wedding band to make it her own. But my father died less than 2 years later, so she has since reset the ring. At any rate, for some reason or another she wanted me to be able to enjoy it and while the diamond has history, so does the current setting and I wanted to honor my mother by keeping it as is when I had it sized and cleaned a couple weeks ago.

My mom’s engagement ring – a single pearl; the Victorian era amethyst in rose gold that was my great-great-grandmother’s; the heart-shaped, sapphire studded ring from my grandmother… Each are beautiful in their own right, but are still more precious because of their histories, the stories carry.

You see, my family moved far from extended family, and there is some mystery about some of my heritage, so these stories are incredibly important to me – part blessing and part explanation of who I am.  

Today’s word of the day:

Propinquity: 1. Close kinship, 2. Physical nearness

We did not enjoy propinquity of family. But we quickly developed family with those at the seminary my dad attended and in the church in which I grew up. And it is propinquity – in the close-kinship sense of the word – that facilitates and nurtures meaningful relationship, the strength that comes from true community, the accountability that brings about transformation – the growth we are created to experience.

Today is Reformation Sunday. It was over 500 years ago that Martin Luther nailed his “95 theses” on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517. They detailed a call for wholesale reform in the church. But it wasn’t until the Catholic Church’s Edict of Worms in 1521 did the schism become realized as Luther and his sympathizers were banned from the church.

The crux of Luther’s theses was that we are Justified by grace alone – not penances, and the workaround of indulgences, by anything that we can pay for. We are saved, our relationship made right with God, by grace alone.

Nearly 200 years later John Wesley then submitted criticism to the reformation’s emphasis on justification by grace, and insisted we are also sanctified here and now by that same grace. The possibility for unity so profound we cannot help but be like God, walk like Jesus, be empowered by the very Spirit of God.

            Sanctification. Transformation. . .

Metanoia: 1. A transformational change in one’s way of life, 2. A change resulting from repentance and spiritual awareness.

Like the egg that becomes the larva transformed to pupa that manifests artful wings: a butterfly, so we, by sanctifying grace can be transformed – can manifest as our truest self: God’s image-bearer. But first there is a kind of death, the chrysalis, the seed – a death to the false self, the mask we wear to protect or project. Protect the vulnerable inner being, project the person you or others think you should be.

“As long as you do not have experience of this dying and becoming, you are only a troubled guest on this dark earth.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Transformation in the spiritual life is experiential and perpetual. It is a verb. An occurrence, and ongoing. It is not a one-and-done this side of glory. God tells us through Joel:

26You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
   and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again
   be put to shame.

28Then afterwards
   I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
   your old men shall dream dreams,
   and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female slaves,
   in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

30 I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. 32Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.

Joel 2:26-32, NRSV

The prophets, over and again, explained what happens when God is our everything. When God is God alone and we do not look to other people or things or status or whatever — we are transformed, God’s very spirit poured out on us, and we will dream dreams, see visions, and never, ever again, be ashamed. Because our very identity is entirely – and uniquely – God’s own.          

And, with shame completely sloughed off, we are afforded the dignity of the Divine.

“Identity answers the question, ‘Who am I?’ while dignity answers the question, ‘What am I worth?’”

Taken from, Christopher L Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram, p17.

He goes on to say, “Tragically, most of us start with our sense of identity, believing that if we build out the mythology of who we think we are, then the more attractive our identity and the more valuable we become.” p16 “When we can start with the grace of resting in our dignity [our worth, whose we are] then the truth of our identity” is free to be exposed, expressed. p17

When we help to make things right in the world, we are not just giving things (supplies, clean water, etc.). When things are made right by knowing our own worth and seeing the worth of those whom we serve – approach, be present to them with dignity – everyone begins to transform, to have that sense of our worth: Priceless. More precious than the costliest of stones.

But it does require that we die to our hold on anything that we are making god to us – our things, our money, position, homes, pensions, even our generosity can become a god…

            Rick Bernath, our faithful treasurer has a few words to share.

I will now show you how you can use your resources to help in other ways:

Website Slides

My kids will walk around the tables during coffee hour…

            Durandumc.org, Make a Donation, Calendar.

            Sermons, on-line Pledge Form;

            Make a Donation, 2 different donation buttons – all go to the same page.

            Calendar, Events (upcoming), Facebook feed; SHARE buttons.

            Make a Donation Page. SHARE buttons.

            Payment portal. All roads lead to Rome … lead to helping to support the ministries of DUMC.

We are accountable to each other. God created us to be in community and to be unified – one with God and one with each other. Not identical, not doing ministry in the same way, but at one with who God made us to be and live out of that strength, leading and moving with dignity: knowing our worth, knowing the worth of those who lead and move and live beside us, with us.

Each of us, each of you is more precious than the costliest of stones. Our identity in the dignity of our worth as uniquely, (creatively) created in the very image of God. And we are accountable to one another to be involved in one another’s life, the transformation, empowered by the grace that supports and nourishes the sanctifying reality of God-With-Us, in us, among us.

We share a new propinquity to an ever-expanding community. The internet, cyberspace, is occupied by nearly everyone, these days. No longer do community members warm the seats in our church building each Sunday. But they do benefit from our presence and ministries.

You may not be able to support the ministries of DUMC with a great deal of money, but you can learn how to share the on-line resources that more and more people are accessing in leu of coming to the church building on Sunday mornings. You may not be able to help repair the church’s roof, but you can help someone else view the sermon, or check out our resources, or follow the Facebook feed…. Transformed, accountable, precious stones with history. . . and a future.

            Invitation to the Offering

Aware of the bounty of God’s created earth, we are invited now to give generously from our abundance. Let us share in God’s graces, as we collect our tithes and offerings.


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