Preached at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Sylva, NC
Sermon Text: James 3:13-4:3
No text again today, though I have (scratchy) audio to post later. Perhaps the most important aspect of Christian life, for me, is finding people who are trapped in a narrative of hopelessness, and bring them back from that dark place. Frequently, that hopelessness is part of an individual’s narrative of domination and submission–that you have lost agency because of the actions of others. When you are trapped in these narratives, your world becomes very small, magnifying the impact of every slight or argument. But James offers us tools to use to help those we find so trapped. In the text of his letter, James urges people to lay aside their disputations and try to work out of the wisdom of God rather than their own selfish ambitions. If we place our own lives within the greater context of Christian history, then, the disputes of those life-or-death issues in churches such as the new paint in the sanctuary, or whether to have pew cushions, fade in importance. The stakes frequently seem so high because we aren’t able to connect to a bigger picture. I think James’s message here is that we all must remain so connected, and help others to find that bigger pictures. In his terms, that bigger picture is the wisdom of God. As Christians, starting with the idea that we are all loved children of God, and that it is our job to make sure others feel like tit is key to our mission. So when you see someone overreacting to minor conflicts, question what motivates them. Wonder what is happening in their lives. See whether you can provide them with an ear and let them talk themselves out of their narrative.
I remained quite happy with extemporaneous delivery, and the sanctuary at Shepherd of the Hills is a great space for being able to move around. And on this day, two people approached me to let me know that the message was one they needed to hear. And that, after all, is the job of a preacher.
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