Welcome! I am the Reverend Kenneth H. Saunders III (Fr. Ken). I am an Episcopal Priest in the Diocese of Maryland. Here are some of my sermons delivered in the context of worship. I serve as the 7th rector of the wonderful community of Trinity Church in Towson, MD.

[NOTE: Sermons (or Homilies - commentaries that follow scripture lessons) are specifically designed to be heard (and are written for the ear) so they may contain sentence fragments and be difficult to read. They are NOT intended to be theological discourses or academic papers.]

Sunday, August 22, 2010

RCL Year C (Proper 16) - August 22, 2010

The Rev. Kenneth H. Saunders III
Christ Church
Cleveland, NC

RCL Year C (Proper 16) - August 22, 2010

Jeremiah 1:4-10
Psalm 71:1-6
Hebrews 12:18-29
Luke 13:10-17

What bends us out of shape??? Why is it, when we don’t get our way, our first instinct is to act like kindergarten children and get bent all out of shape? Bent out of shape because we don’t want to do something, or we don’t think that we need to do something… we contort ourselves and grimace at the mere thought of doing something that we don’t agree with.

Why is it so hard for us to un bend from the old “norms” – the way things have always been done, and bend in ways that help give new life and vitality into our community.

We get all bent out of shape at the most unlikely sources… but as we know, it’s not God that twists, it’s us that do the twisting… it’s not God who destroys, it is us that are self destructive. Our God saves… no matter how bent out of shape we feel, no matter how shaken we get, when we reach out, God is right there to make it right… to heal us, to restore us and to give us new life.

Last week, we heard the passage of Jesus, longing to bring fire to the earth, and “getting things cooking.”

I have often used the idiom in vestry meetings and other forums, that I “shake” the snow globe. If we think about it, that’s one way to keep things going.

I had a snow globe as a child, you know, one of those glass balls with a winter scene inside and water and flecks of white that looked like snow. I would keep it on my night stand, and before I went to bed, I would shake it! And if I woke up in the middle of the night, I would shake it again!

It was my way of keeping it going… of keeping the snow falling… So the snow would fall, and then make the scene in the globe complete.

We are all part of that scene…

The scene that God created for us… And I will admit… I do things in order to “shake” the snow globe sometimes, to keep the things going that Jesus started. To make us feel a bit uncomfortable with the way things are, and make us think about the way things could be.

Shaking the snow globe is a wonderful process of examination and reexamination… of shaking up and loosening the insecurities that we hold on to that are of this world… After the shaking we see the solid eternal things that are of God that remain.

What remains is that grounded and steady truth of God… the root of the power of relationships and community… the love of God that binds us all together. The problems is, whoever is doing the shaking… that sometimes we don’t like the way the snow globe has been shaken, and we get upset for one reason or another. This feeling can cause us to get all bent out of shape.

Jesus is teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath. And the scripture says that a woman with a crippling spirit has been bent over and not able to stand up straight for 18 long years… Without her asking, in one word and a laying on of hands, Jesus heals her from her ailment and restores her to perfect health…

She immediately stands up straight and begins praising God. But in doing that one profound act of healing and mercy, Jesus shakes the snow globe of society and disrupts the status quo.

The leader of the synagogue then gets all bent out of shape and accuses Jesus of breaking the law because he healed on the Sabbath. But, like people so often who get bent out of shape, he doesn’t come to Jesus and confront him directly, he keeps saying to the crowd – accusing Jesus – sort of like going behind Jesus’ back. But Jesus sets it right, comparing his actions to simply giving water to a donkey or ox. He restores dignity and gives new life to the woman, setting her free from her disorder, from the demons that torment her.

When we get bent out of shape about something, our tendency is to grimace, and contort our faces to show people that we are not happy, we talk behind backs and accuse wrongly, especially if we think that our way of life is being challenged or disrupted… especially if we think our snow globe is being shaken.

When this happens, there is only one answer… to let the eternal love of our Lord Jesus Christ reach out to us and heal us… to help us loose our grip from whatever demon it is that we are so gravely holding onto and allow Jesus to show us a way of trust in God and the eternal solid things that should be the focus of our attention.

It is our only way that we keep things going… Jesus “got things cooking” by bring the consuming fire to the earth last week. Now, it’s up to us to keep things going.

The way I see it, we have 2 choices: we either act like the crippled woman and let ourselves be healed and restored stand up straight, and praise God… Or we can be like the Synagogue leader and get all bent out of shape, accuse, talk behind peoples backs, and complain about others and the way things are…

It is when and only when we surrender ourselves to Christ's Lordship, and completely give ourselves over, and live for Him that we begin to see the things that bend us out of shape are meaningless.

So, will we accept Christ as he attempts to mold us and form us into his image, restoring us and making us whole? Or will we reject Christ and think we have it all figured out by ourselves and continue to walk around all bent out of shape?

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