The Church that Feeds People

Pentecost service

Sermons

Turn Believing into Be-loving

Year B, Proper 9

Mark 6:1-13

Jesus was rejected by his own neighbors

  • They could not accept that he was revealing God
  • They could only see him through the honor-code of their time
    • Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?
    • How we see and relate to Jesus matters.

The struggle for Jesus’ neighbors in Nazareth is very similar to our own struggle today.

  • We speak of believing in Jesus, but that does not seem to be enough.
  • When we believe in Jesus, we do not experience the power, the “deeds of power”. Instead, we accept or reject an idea.
  • The people of Nazareth were slaves to their social order. Jesus, the carpenter and son of Mary could not be a prophet and he certainly could not reveal God to them.
  • We are slaves to our language. We struggle to believe, and even when we do manage to believe, we do not experience the full wonder of knowing God, the God who is revealed in human form in Jesus of Nazareth.

Belief used to be about trusting in, cherishing and loving.

  • Brief history of “belief”
    • Earliest usage was equivalent to the German word “belieben”: “To prize, treasure, or hold dear.”
    • Comes from the root: Liebe, meaning “love”
    • Belief was the act of loving another, like the noun “beloved”
    • Today, Belief has come to be used almost entirely to speak of ideas and propositions.
    • In Latin, the word credo is used where belief is used in English
      • Credo means “I set my heart upon” or “I give my loyalty to”
      • The word Creed comes from Credo
    • We need to turn believing in to be-loving.
    • Instead of accepting the idea of Jesus, we can take refuge in Jesus. We can love and trust Jesus.

The example of the Apostle’s Creed: BCP 96

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth;
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

As a list of ideas we must believe to be proper, orthodox Christians, this creed is a problem for many people, and not particularly transformational.

When we turn believing into beloving, The Apostles’ Creed becomes:

I trust in God, the Father almighty…
I trust in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord…

I trust in the Holy Spirit…

Or, even better, following the meaning of the Latin root of creed:

I set my heart on God, the father almighty…

I give my loyalty to Jesus, his only Son, our Lord…

I love and trust in the Holy Spirit…

When we speak of trust and love, we are involved.

  • We are participants in a way that belief does not require or create.
  • Trust and love include our reason, intellect and discerning minds, but they are not limited to ideas. Trust and love involve our whole being: our hearts, our minds, and even our physical selves.
  • When we turn believing into beloving, substituting the language of ideas with the language of trust and love, the creeds take on the character of a prayer.

When believing becomes beloving:

  • We go from talking about God to worshiping in the presence of God
  • Jesus did not send the 12 out to convince people to accept an idea.
    • The disciples called people to repent – in other words, to put their trust and love in God.
    • They were sent out to give people the experience of God and to show them how to continue to have that experience.

 

The Eucharist is an experience of God’s presence

  • Jesus is present to us in body and Spirit as we share the bread and wine.
  • This is not an idea that I can convince you of, and I will not try, because even if you understand and accept an idea, you will not have the experience of God.
  • When we turn belief into love and trust, we experience the power, awe and wonder of God in this simple act of sharing bread and wine.
  • When we go from believing to beloving we go from talking about God to experiencing the love and presence of God
  • You don’t need to believe me. Don’t bother. Instead, let’s join together in love as we participate in and experience the love and presence of God.

 

 

The Rev. David Marshall

St. Dunstan’s Church, Shoreline WA

July 8, 2012

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