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Welcome to Sunshine Cathedral, a congregational mission of Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We come together each week to sing and pray, to read the sacred texts of ancient times and those of our day. We celebrate community and strive to live our lives ethically and lovingly in all that we do. Let us gather in community to rest in the love of the one who made us in Her image.
The Call to Worship based on Psalm 71
ALL: In your righteousness, deliver me and set me free; listen to me and save me.
Be my rock, a home to keep me safe; you are my stronghold.
ALL: Deliver me, my God, from the hand of those who want to harm me and oppress me.
You are my hope, Eternal One, I trust you since I was a child.
ALL: You have sustained me all my life; from my mother's womb you have been my strength; I give you thanks and praise.
Stir within us, Creator of the Universe, the knowledge that you love us, all of us. Awaken within us the memory that we are all your children, equal in your eyes. Strengthen our faith in the divine spark placed in every human being and remind us to give that divinity the honor we profess to give you. Give us your peace and allow us to let go of the fear that separates us. In your many names we pray. Amen.
The wisdom of Vernon Shields
Jesus lived in the awareness of his oneness with God, in the awareness that God responds and provides when faith is expressed.
You have faith. Use it. Direct it toward God, toward the highest and best.
Affirm now with feeling: “I have faith in God, the Good, and my faith draws to me an abundance of every good thing. Thank you, [God].”
The wisdom of Grace L. Faus
When we find within ourselves the Spirit of the Living God, life becomes more thrilling than it ever was. Living with God is a great adventure, living, we might almost say, as God. For when we realize that “I and the Divine are one,” we realize that our life is God living through us, and this becomes tremendous and exciting.
Those who [heard Jesus speak] said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son, the one we’ve known since he was a youngster?”
…Jesus answered: “No prophet is ever welcomed in his or her hometown. Isn’t it a fact that there were many widows in Israel at the time of Elijah during that three and a half years of drought when famine devastated the land, but the only widow to whom Elijah was sent was in Sarepta in Sidon? And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of the prophet Elisha but the only one cleansed was Naamanthe Syrian.”
That set everyone in the meeting place seething with anger. They threw him out, banishing him from the village, then took him to a mountain cliff at the edge of the village to throw him to his doom, but he gave them the slip and was on his way.
Click on the audio bar below to hear the audio.
Last week we read the few verses that precede our gospel reading today. Jesus was visiting his hometown. He was a good man who came to visit his mother. And on the Sabbath he gathered with others to study Torah and pray. He read from the prophet Isaiah and when he sat down, he proclaimed that the passage he had read had come true in that place on that day.
You will recall that my interpretation of what Jesus said affirms that anytime a human being reads that passage it comes true. But those present, and most of us who have read that account of Jesus reading from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, think that Jesus was saying that somehow he was superior to the rest of them, more desired by God, more valued by the Creator. And that made them mad, it offended them, and they turned on Jesus.
“Who the heck does he think he is? I mean really! I watched this kid when he was a toddler running around here in diapers. How dare him treat us as though he’s better than us!” Jesus knew that it’s difficult for folks to overcome their assumptions about someone. But he continued to challenge them.
“No prophet is welcome in his or her hometown,” he said. “People think they know them because they watched them grow up and make mistakes. Even Elijah and Elisha got a taste of this. Only those who did not have preconceptions of them received their help. Sometimes foreigners show us more love than our own families. Beware your assumptions about each other.”
They actually kicked him out of the meeting and a mob wanted to throw him over a cliff. But as they rushed toward the cliff in their anger, he slipped away. It wasn’t really him that was fueling their hate. It was their own fear that God loves some of us more than others.
This is the basis of all human conflict. I have something that I’m willing to fight to keep or you have something I want that I’m willing to fight to get. Rather than sharing we fight each other. Instead of acknowledging the divine spark in every part of creation, we convince ourselves that some are better and some are less…. That God loves some of us more than others.
When we act this way we are showing our own insecurity. That insecurity causes fear, fear begets anger, anger turns into rage, and rage into violence. We find ourselves fighting without knowing how we got into the argument. We forget what we are fighting about or we manufacture resentment to keep hatred alive.
The answer to ending this cycle is as simple as Jesus slipping away through the crowd. Stop resisting. Stop trying to convert others to our opinion. Stop assuming that we know what motivates another’s actions that appear to be hostile to us. Remember that we can never know what someone has been through at any given time on any given day. We are all wounded and all in need of the balm of friendship, the tonic of understanding, we can all use the benefit of the doubt.
God loves each of us equally. It’s true! Not one of us is loved more or less than any other. The judgments we make about ourselves and others are manufactured, they are misplaced. Each of us is capable of ultimate humanity and ultimate violence in any given moment. Each of us need the love and respect of others no matter what our circumstances.
Let me leave you today with a quote from Maryanne Williamson that I have read many times here. And today it seems appropriate to read it one more time, because I need to hear it again. I forget who and whose I am. So let’s listen again….
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
To this we say amen.
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