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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.
As we continue on our way through Lent this week we consider how we can be of service in our ministry, we consider how we listen to both our internal voice and the cries of need in the world. We look for balance in our own lives by looking at the life of service expressed by the stories of the man Jesus of Nazareth in his earthly journey here with us.
The Call to Worship
Pilgrims, we are invited to journey through this season of Lent
ALL: towards the One who calls us each by a new name.
Disciples, we walk with Jesus wherever he leads us,
ALL: pulling our fears, our doubts, our longings behind us.
Believers, we seek to trust the God who always surprises us,
ALL: whose promises take on flesh and blood in the good news called Jesus.
Each Sunday during Lent we will replace our opening prayer with a prayer of confession. Please join me in saying this prayer in your own heart either aloud in your real life environment or in your heart. Let us pray:
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.
(from The Book of Common Prayer)
The Wisdom of Eleanor Roosevelt
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”
The Wisdom of Cicero
“Not for ourselves alone are we born.”
Luke 13.31-32 (Durrell Watkins’ paraphrase)
Pharisees came to Jesus to warn him, “You need to go far, far away from here! Herod wants to kill you.” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell that old fox that I don’t have time to worry about him. Today and tomorrow and the day after that I’m busy ministering to people who suffer in mind and body.”
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This week our readings seem to be encouraging us to not only listen to the spirit during this season of Lent but to act upon what we hear, to act upon that which we understand as our own personal call to ministry and service. That sounds very high minded and lofty to be sure. And those of us who have, at any point, attempted to march to the beat of a different drum know well the suspicion, scorn, and sometimes outright ridicule that we open ourselves up to when we deviate from societal norms.
At this particular time in history in the United States our society seems to have reached a new low level of hateful speech and materialism. We are bombarded by advertising that tries to make us believe that the latest car, or computer, or phone, or t-shirt will make us feel better and give our lives meaning. Our society values so-called “freedom” over compassion and greed over caring for the poor.
I want to talk about three things that can help us in making a daily decision to stand up for what we believe. Listening to that still small voice inside us is hard. It’s hard to hear it over the noise all around us everyday. And when what we feel called to do runs counter to what society values and rewards as success, the backlash can be brutal. When we begin to act in ways that are fundamentally different than the values our society embraces even our friends and family sometimes can’t understand our actions.
There is a price to pay for taking the road less traveled. It takes courage to disrupt the status quo. There will be consequences. And those consequences are sometimes uncomfortable and often painful. It’s not pleasant to swim upstream against societal norms. It’s uncomfortable to speak out against the things that people around us hold so dear. It’s downright painful when our family and close friends can’t appreciate the choices we need to make or are embarrassed by what we say and do in working for justice.
But the truth is that change is vital to a successful and happy life. When we make change in our own lives we give others the courage to make change in their lives. Sometimes the very people who ridicule us the most adamantly find courage to make change in their lives that is for their greater good. When we step out on faith and work hard to effect change, those around us often find the courage to begin to hear their own voice, find their own call and ministry of service, or come to terms with the privilege within which they live.
In twelve step rooms we often hear a very important quote, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” This is as true as any scripture from any religion in the world’s history. Yes it is important to have close friends, family, and spiritual advisors to help us discern whether we are hearing our call or simply listening to our own ego. But in the end, we must give as much weight to our own internal voice as we give to those outside us.
Our quote from Cicero is helpful in discerning whether we are listening to our own ego. He said, “Not for ourselves alone are we born.” If we keep this short, simple quote in our minds it is a valuable guide for discernment. Our ego will often look for the easier softer way. It will look for how we will get credit, what we can do to call attention to ourselves and all the good work we are doing. So it’s important to ask ourselves if the work and service we are performing is for the good of those we serve or for the benefit of making ourselves look good.
Lest you think I believe we should become a doormat and place everyone’s needs above our own let me be clear… we need to take care or ourselves so that we can do the work we are called to do. It is when we begin to believe that we are somehow more deserving, or more special, or more human than those who have the least in this world… that is when we find ourselves in real peril.
As our gospel lesson teaches us when the authorities in power sent word to Jesus to just get out of town, he was not fooled into thinking that was a message from above. He was not intimidated. He did not run. He sent his own message to those in authority, “Today and tomorrow and the day after that I’m busy ministering to people who suffer in mind and body.” In other words, I don’t have time to run away and hide.
In this Lenten season may we open our hearts and minds to the leading of the holy Spirit. May we invite our call to become clear. And may we begin to find ways to be of service to those less fortunate than ourselves. Love, justice, generosity, compassion… these are the things by which our lives are measured. Let us open our hearts to finding ways to live out these ideals as Jesus did.
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