Archive | June 2015

Are We Going To Have Fear . . . Or Faith?

    One of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him.

    Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how you say, ‘Who touched me?'” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

    While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. Then he took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement, (Mark 5:21-43) 

We just heard of two miracles performed by Jesus in the same day. How amazing!

We could say that a miracle is one of those times when things get out of control in a good way. God interrupts our orderly existence with something wonderful that doesn’t fit our notions of orderliness. We need those moments in our memories for when things go out of control in a bad way. For each one of us, there comes a day when we feel like our lives have been hijacked by bad news. We go along day after day doing our best. We raise our children, get our exercise, and pay our bills on time. The years go by, and we begin to think that we are in control of our lives, that everything will be okay. We just need to do our best.

Then one day everything changes; we get a cut in salary or laid off; we get some back news from the doctor. One moment we feel in control of our lives and in the next we feel trapped inside of a car zooming down a hill with no brakes.

There have been times when we have said, “I think I have lost control of my life.” We’ve heard others say it. But we cannot lose something we never really had. We know that we were never really in control, we only think we were. We cannot control what happens to us; we can only choose how we will react when the bad (and good) times come.

We heard last week that Jesus was caught sleeping while a storm was trying to swamp the boat (Mark 4:35-40). Jesus admonished the disciples, saying

    “You still don’t get it, do you? You don’t need to be afraid. You just need faith.” (Mark 4:40)

In today’s scripture, Jairus, a leader of the synagogue, falls at Jesus feet. His daughter is mortally ill – something he cannot control. He pleads:

    “Come and heal my girl so she can live.”  (Mark 5:23)

But before Jesus can get to Jairus’ house, word comes that she is dead. Jesus says, once again:

    “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” (Mark 5:36)

Jus these two things:

    Don’t be afraid and have faith.

Let’s think for a moment about the nine people who were massacred at the Mother Emmanuel AME
Church. According to reports from the survivor, the members of the Bible Study class had to have been more scared than they had ever been in their life. But they put their faith and trust in God, knowing that He would take care of them. They had to have been afraid, but their faith in God sustained them for the few second it took the perpetrator to send them to their heavenly reward.

That, my friends, is true faith!

The other person in the Scripture is a woman who had been ill for twelve years with hemorrhaging. She had tried countless doctors–but rather than getting better, she was now worse. She was running out of options; she had been shunned by her family and friends and the village. . . she had nowhere to go. Her only hope is to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe – she knows if she can do that, she will be healed. . . otherwise she is likely to die.

These two people who had nowhere else to turn, came to Jesus.

And once again, Jesus spoke of faith:

    “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:34)

He says again and again and again:

    “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” (Mark 5:36)

And He says this to us, especially when things happen in our lives that we cannot control. We want to control our lives and we’d like to control God. If we controlled God, we could get a miracle when we needed (or wanted) one. But these miracle stories are not about control. They are stories about what God is like and how God acts.

Mark wrote the stories down so that we would know that Jesus was no ordinary man, and God was no ordinary god. That when something goes wrong, we would have strength to carry on. Mark wanted us to know that even when Jesus was gone he still had the power to still the storms of our lives and raise us out of a living death to life again.

We have two choices: either we can be afraid or we can have faith.

We all know that being afraid gets us nowhere – except MORE afraid.

Life happens. Faith has little to do with what happens to us; faith has everything to do with how we handle what happens to us. Faith gives us a much better chance of experiencing those miracles of God’s grace all around us right now. There is power in faith. Scientific research proves that believers are happier and healthier than non-believers. Not because God plays favorites; not because He blesses some people and withholds His blessings from others.

We are all afraid at some time or another – that is being human. But, with faith we can know that things are going to get better. And there is healing power in that belief.

Amen.

 

Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH  28 June 2015

We Are Not Alone

Recently we have had rain . . . and rain . . . and rain until we all must feel waterlogged. There were festivals this weekend that had to be cancelled because of all the rain, and counties along the Hocking River are in a state of emergency because the flooding from the river had closed the roads. There are people in Southeastern Ohio who aren’t sure can keep their heads above the rising water.

Have you ever felt that you are just barely keeping your head above water? That you are about to sink? That you are under torrents of troubles and worries?

You aren’t the only one!

Hear what was told to you in the Gospel of Mark when the disciples were in a boat with Jesus:

On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took Him with them in the boat. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him up and said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41)

Now when this story occurs, the disciples had been traveling with Jesus for quite some time, and had seen Him perform miracles: driving out demons, curing the sick, feeding the masses. Yet, they did not believe. . . did not yet fully realize the power of His presence.

The troubles and challenges we go through in life are not trivial. They are life changing. They may be massive. Faith doesn’t prevent fear from occurring. Faith did not provide the disciples in their boat with a safe journey over the sea. Faith is a way of walking through fear, without giving in to its terror. Fear draws us into rage, helplessness, desperation or despair. Faith helps us find ourselves, as peaceful voices, as creators of calm. It must be just such a spirit that allows Hindus to walk across beds of hot coals without burning their feet. That allows mothers of children pinned under cars to lift those cars enough to free the child. That allowed Nelson Mandela to endure 27 years of imprisonment, emerge the victor over the government that had so abused him, and later become President of his nation. It is just that faith that allows the families of the 9 massacred members of the Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston to forgive their murderer and call for love to heal their city and our nation.

To me, this story from Mark reminds us that God is there for us. That when we lose sight of God because we encounter the death of a loved one, or financial disaster, or illness, or whatever may befall us, and it feels like a massive storm is threatening to capsize our life’s boat, God is there, working in the background, carrying us when we need it. God was there when those nine people were murdered and became martyrs in Heaven. It may seem trite, it may seem convenient, but God is on our side. And so I have to acknowledge God in my life. Ask, seek, knock. The principles remain the same. He is there.

God never, ever, ever promises that life will be easy. God never promises smooth sailing and blue skies every day.

What God does promise is that when the world comes crashing down, God is right there with us. The Holy Spirit is there with us, in our sinking boat.

Just as He was in the boat with the disciples, and with the people at the Mother Emmanuel AME Church, He is with us – every day, rain or shine. And He will calm the storms of our lives if we trust Him.

So, maybe the world is crashing in on you today. Maybe you feel your about to drown in worry of fear, in pain or loneliness. Maybe it was yesterday that you felt that way. And then again, maybe it will be tomorrow.

But, whenever that happens—and it’s not a matter of “if”, but “when”—whatever you think, and whatever your prayer, know that you haven’t been abandoned. God isn’t on a lunch break. He is only a thought and a prayer away.

God is with you. And all you need is enough faith to get you through to the moment when Jesus speaks, “Peace. Be still.”

The disciples finally ‘got it’ when Jesus stilled the storm – they understood just how powerful Jesus was.

And now, we must ‘get it’ – that as long as we have faith in God’s love for us, we will be okay. No matter how deep the water gets or how horrible the storms. We will not drown, we will overcome, even though we may walk through the valley of the shadow of death – the rains will cease, the sun will shine, and the peace of the Lord will fill our souls.

Amen.

Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 21 June 2015

Being Gay Is A Gift From God

Keep, O Lord, your Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness and minister your justice with compassion. Amen.

Good morning!

I am here this morning to assert that those of us in the LGBTQ community are a lucky and blessed people, and we have more work to do!

Oh yes, I know we still hear that gay folks choose to be ‘that way’. We still hear people talk about the struggles and pain of growing up in a hostile world, a world still trying to deny us equal rights in the workplace, in the voting booth and in our churches. In fact, just this past week a major religious denomination met here in Columbus and spent the entire two days of their conference berating marriage equality, the worthiness of gay people as human beings, and using the Bible to justify their divisive and hateful stance.

We know that in more than half the states it is still legal to be fired for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Transgender persons, especially, have more limited options for employment and meaningful work. Transgender people, gay people of color, are subject to violence at alarming rates and teen suicide rates are alarming.

Whether it is immigration inequality, hate crimes, the rights of children of same-sex couples, or youth who are at a higher risk of suicide, we face struggles for total inclusion. There are still countless states, even today, where one can be fired solely on the basis of being LGBTQ. While coming out of the closet can be a source of pride for many, for others, openly stating that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender can have profoundly damaging personal and professional ramifications, causing some individuals to lose their families and their jobs.

Yes, we have many things to work on for ourselves. And I think that some in our LGBTQ community still argue ‘you must be kind to be kind to us because we have been oppressed, and because we can’t help being the way we are…’ Well, you know what? That’s not good enough. That line of reasoning is outdated and simplistic and worst of all, condescending. . . and it just isn’t true!

I’m here to let you in on a secret: For me, being a lesbian is a wonderful thing, and I wouldn’t change it if I could. I have always felt like being gay was a blessing. God made me this way and I am SO grateful! When discussions about gay rights in government and churches focus on the argument that we have no choice, they completely disregard the fact that we are whole, beautiful, blessed people. Those arguments serve to keep us in a state of victimhood, to make us feel like equal rights and opportunities would be benevolent gifts from people who were born somehow better than we, rather than what we merit as citizens and children of God.

When we say that being gay is a gift from God, at least I feel that way, we reject this fallacy. We take our place as equal members of a wonderful family of human beings and say we will not accept prejudice, or pity or demeaning comparisons.

Loving your neighbor as yourself requires you to love yourself first.

I am not a gay deacon in the Episcopal Church, but a deacon who happens to be gay. The fact that I am gay does not, and should not, and will not define my diaconate OR my being. Being gay is who I am as a person and how I witness and experience the world around me. My experience helps to inform how I understand the people in my congregations as well as the unique lives of the people in the LGBTQ community. I strive to bring this sensitivity to congregants of all sexual orientations and gender identities; indeed to all people in their diversity and uniqueness, whatever that may be.

You may hear complaints that we celebrate ‘Gay Pride’ – after all, they say, no one celebrates ‘Straight Pride’. Maybe they should!

For ‘pride’ is loving oneself, fully and completely. It is being unapologetic about any aspect our lives as God created us. It’s affirming that we are beloved children of God . . . each and every one of us in in the image of the Creator.

Gay pride or black pride or Latino pride or Islamic pride is about demanding that we be treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else. Whether done subtly or with flamboyance and pizazz, pride is about us asserting our humanity in a society that so often treats others as people of lesser value, people who are wounded or are somehow rejects.

Pride is about saying ‘we want a world where there are no rejects’.

Many years ago I was asked to provide a testimony at a Methodist Church that was working toward becoming open and affirming. I related how the church had been so supportive of me as my lesbian partner of 27 years was dying of cancer. Nothing special. . . just thanks to a congregation that was struggling to become totally inclusive. I didn’t think anyone really paid much attention to me. But after the service, a young man came up to me, with tears in his eyes, thanking me for saying how much God and the church had loved and supported me. It seems that he had been rejected by family and friends and was going to go home and kill himself that very day! Because of my testimony, he now had a glimmer of hope that God created him as a gay man and there were those who accepted him as he was.

Our gay pride witnesses to others and changes lives.

The first officially recognized LGBT Pride Parade occurred in New York City in 1970 as a partial response to the Stonewall riots that occurred a year earlier; it was then known as “The Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day Parade.” Now some 45 years later, when cities across the nation and the world are filled to the brim on Pride Day with the entire spectrum of queer life, as well as their family, friends, and supporters. They (and we!) march on the streets and declare our unapologetic presence and our joy in our humanity as God created us.

So, let us spend this time with immense pride and thanksgiving for how far we have come. An increasing number of states, as well Washington, D.C., legally recognize gay marriage. “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” has been overturned, and a sitting United States president has openly denounced the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act.” The speed with which change is occurring, to me, is breathtaking. I NEVER thought I would see this in my lifetime!

Of course, there is more work to be done. Religious leaders and faith communities have a unique platform to bring healing to all. The first step is to fight bigotry and discrimination with love and understanding. We have the ability to fight for our cause while still embodying the same values we are fighting for. The means for action may be different for each of us. For some of us, lobbying in our state capitals for our LGBTQ equality is the way we can influence; for others, it may be working for the political candidate of your choice; for some, it may simply be being loud and making noise for issues that are important to us – this our responsibility. We can’t overlook, standing for ourselves, the truth is that sometimes just standing as your true self (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender), in our communities, is the most influential way to affect change.

We have the power to de-stigmatize the words “gay” and “transgender” just by our ability to speak them with ease. In a political environment where our society is bombarded with messages that God, religion, and the Bible denounce homosexuality, those of us who are spiritual people must teach that God is love, and that the world we believe in celebrates life and love. There is not an age too young or too old to know that our faith teaches that every person is made in the image of God, and is born with the same rights and deserve the same respect as everyone else.

And is it time to share our blessing! It is time to take our leadership, our indomitable spirits, and our insistence for inclusion of ALL in our society to helping other marginalized and persecuted people. It is impossible to stand here today in total joy and pride for what we have accomplished as LGBTQ people without remembering the tremendous hate, violence, and cruelty STILL visited upon our black brothers and sisters in every aspect of their lives. What happened this past week in Charleston, what has happened into so many cities to young black men, reveals, once again, an evil and meanness rampant in our society that belittles us all.

What we are doing to immigrants on our southern border is inhumane and evil. And we as gay people, are not fully free and fully included until all people are free and included. We MUST take our strength and our joy and our blessing and our sure knowledge of the love of God for all of us to not only work for own total inclusion, but for the well-being and safety and inclusion of ALL marginalized groups on this planet.

So this Gay Pride Day, as we see thousands of smiling people, cheering for us and with us, let us remember it is because we are standing up for justice, and love and pride for everyone. That is what we see during the Gay Pride parades held all over the world. We are gays, lesbians, transgenders and our allies marching hand-in-hand, marching in the Columbus Gay Pride Parade, under the banner of

‘Pride – Be The Change’!pride 2015

Our family and friends join us with their love and pride of their LGBTQ kin. The religions represented here today stand up and say not only that they tolerate LGBTQ people, they love and respect them… they not only welcome the gay community, but that they are part of the gay community.

We will march today as family. Not as a biological family, though some such families are present here today; but as the human family united by love.

By marching in Pride, we are standing up to say that it’s not about loving the sinner while hating the sin—it’s about rejecting the idea that love is ever a sin! Even in a town that seems as open and accepting as Columbus, marching in a Pride Parade as a community of faith is a radical and important action. Even if just one person sees us, just one person who didn’t know there is a place that will love them, it will be worthwhile. We might be able to reach that one youth who has lost all hope and sees suicide as the only way out of the pain.

And I assert, that marching together in this Pride Parade today, means that we will not accept hatred or exclusion for any other human being, be they black, Latino, disabled, or of any religion. For us in the faith community, it means that we will not accept the bogus idea that any religion has the right to hurt and marginalize others. Marching today means that we are one with each other and with all humanity.

And so we march in pride, to celebrate who we are: clapping and shouting for joy, singing praises to God and saying to each other and to the world that who we are —who God made us to be —is beautiful, wonderful and holy and blessed.

AMEN!

Delivered at Integrity Pride Service, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 20 June 2015

 

That Mighty Little Mustard Seed

Mark 4:30-32

Have you ever seen a mustard seed? I have one in my hand, but unless you are very, very close to me, you will not be able to see it. This little seed is one of the most mysterious seeds in nature.

It is hard to believe that from this tiny little seed, a plant that grows . . .

    and grows. . .

    and grows

until it is 8-10 feet tall. It is a woody shrub, not even a tree, and if allowed, it will take over anything in its way. It is nearly impossible to cut down unless you use a machete or chain saw; its stems grow to be about as thick as a grown man’s arm. And if you do cut it down, it regrows from its roots. The mustard plant is one of the hardiest plants on earth.

It is useful for flavoring food (think about yellow mustard), it’s leaves are edible (have you ever had any mustard greens?), and parts of the plant have medicinal properties (you might have had a mustard plaster on your chest for a cold), BUT, despite its strength, it is considered a weed instead of a shrub, and not a very pretty one at that. You didn’t dare plant it in your garden; it will crowd out all the other plants and literally and take over – anywhere it is planted it spreads like wildfire. You cannot get rid of it!

I bet you are wondering why I am giving you all this ‘useless’ information about the mustard seed. Let’s look at a little piece of the scripture about the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 4:30-32:

    Jesus said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

Notice that the scripture says that the mustard plant is a shrub. . . not a tree. It is not like the mighty sequoia in California or two-hundred year old oak trees you might see in a park. . .

    it is just a shrub. . .

    a lowly shrub.

Some of us are passing around to the tables, cups with mustard seeds in it. Pick one up . . . be careful, they are really small and can roll around easily. See how really small they are. . . can you even imagine how this little tiny seed could become a shrub twice as tall as a man, and whose stems are larger than a weightlifter’s arm?

So what is the lesson here?

Parables were stories Jesus told using common items that people often saw everyday (such as birds, flowers, water) to describe things they had never seen or would never see. No one had ever seen this “Kingdom of God” Jesus was describing, SO, He told parables to help people visualize what it was going to be like.

But, why use an item like a mustard seed. It was a small, insignificant, relatively unimportant seed. It wasn’t highly prized. Jesus chose the mustard seed for His parable because of its size. He used it because even something as small as a mustard seed can have miraculous power within it. Think about it. A seed – not much bigger than a pinhead – has within it the power to become a towering plant. Just as a small idea, a single thought, a tangible act can start you on your path to becoming a vibrant disciple of Jesus.

An example of a powerful thing starting from something small is In The Garden, which started with sack lunches and about six people. Look where we are now!

So the kingdom of God begins like a small seed inside the heart of each one of us. And once that seed takes root and begins to grow, our lives become filled with the love of God. It is watered every time we love our neighbor, or care of those in need, or visit the sick, just as Jesus commanded us in Matthew 25:36:

    Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick and in prison

Each time we do this, that little kernel of faith grows in us. . . until we know the love of God and are members of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus started growing the kingdom of God with a handful of disciples. Every follower of Jesus is a part of the kingdom and that means that you and I are a part of God’s kingdom. Jesus teaches us that the Kingdom of God is the work of grace and mercy and compassion and peace with justice in the world. We are called to do the work to the best of our ability. Jesus says to us that we are to plant the seed and let God worry about the growth; our job, our responsibility, our calling, is to plant the seed and reap the harvest. God is responsible for the growth. And that little kernel of faith, which started out as small as a mustard seed, continues to grow in us. . .

    and grow . . .

    and grow. . .

until we are fully-loved and embraced members of the Kingdom of God. Just as the mustard seed cannot be killed, our faith in the Kingdom of God will not go away, only become stronger and stronger. Faith is often defined as trust, trusting that the things will turn out all right, in God’s way, in God’s time.

All we have to do is have faith,

believe in the love of God and

follow the teachings of Jesus and we can do anything.

Jesus told us:

    “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20)

We need to keep feeding that little mustard seed of faith! We are beloved children of the Kingdom of God.

Amen.

Dump Those GRUDGES!

Matthew 6:14-15

The last two weeks we have been looking at how we can have a new beginning in our lives. I need to clarify that we cannot have a new beginning by starting our lives over again (we can’t get back in our mother’s womb and be born again), but we can change our lives so we will have a new ending . . a different life for the rest of our lives.

We have determined that if we do the following things, we can change our lives:

    1.  Cultivate friends who lift us up and support our best self
    2.  Face our problems head on
    3.  Think of our successes and hopes and dreams
    4.  Always try to solve our problems, no matter how difficult.

Now we need to again look at ourselves, things we do that keep us stuck in the past so we are unable to move into a new life.

We need to stop holding grudges.

Grudges are probably the worst thing we can hold onto if we want to change our lives. A “grudge’ is a ‘feeling of resentment or ill will over some grievance’.

A ‘grudge’ is not an actual physical things that can be picked up, carried or seen. But it is something that is ‘carried’ internally; it is real, it is heavy, and the effects of carrying it inside us can be seen outwardly in our actions toward others and ourselves. It can cause great harm to us and others physically and mentally, and though it is not visible, it can grow bigger and, in time, completely rob our lives of those things we want.

We are warned against holding grudges in several scriptures in the Bible; we are told in Ephesians 4:31-32:

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

What is ‘bitterness’? It is being resentful, angry, hostile and very cold to others. God’s word clearly warns us against bitterness. It takes us away from God’s grace. In fact, the Bible says it defiles/corrupts us. Hebrews 12:15 speaks of grudges as the ‘root of bitterness’.

What do we know about roots? Roots are hidden in the ground; you can’t see them. So bitterness starts out unnoticed. Bitterness is like a cancerous tumor that grows it is not surgically removed. Bitterness begins hidden in the soil of our hearts. Its roots grow in the heart and mind until they choke the life out of us emotional and spiritually.

Grudge bearers are always looking for those to team up with against the object of their grudge. We can’t physically see the grudge, but it is hidden in our hearts; something we have a tendency to hang onto, even hold close. It’s a resistance; it’s a reluctance; it’s a rebellion, and it’s a resentment. We know we should forgive and forget, be we don’t and won’t.

Why?

Because it’s too easy to hold a grudge. In fact, in some circles, we are actually expected to hold a grudge. We compare our grudge with someone else’s grudge and compete to discover who hold the greater grudge.

Are you holding a grudge?

There are three main things that holding grudges does to us:

    Grudges rob us of joy

    • If we really want to be happy and have joy in our lives, we CANNOT hold grudges.
    • When we hold a grudge, the hate we are holding inside us is stealing joy from our lives.

     
    Grudges rob us of time.

    • Holding a grudge requires a lot of energy; energy to keep remembering the hurt and feeding that resentment.
    • The more we hold onto a grudge, the less time and energy we have for us to move forward.

     
    Grudges rob us of our focus.

    • Holding grudges will seriously steal our energy and prevent us from being able to fully focus on where we want to go in our lives.
    • Holding grudges makes us angry, angry enough to take our minds off what we want to accomplish.

All this keeps us from moving on.

It is all right to be angry. Anger is a valid emotion when something wrong or unfair happens to use of someone else. Be we must not let our anger control us. Things will go wrong in our lives; a disagreement, someone cuts us off in traffic, someone wrongs us. These things happen; we can spend our time complaining or we can find a way to make things better.

Lots of things have happened to us in our lives that have hurt us. But we waste a lot of energy that could be spent doing something new and wonderful when we hold a grudge against a person or thing. We can’t love our lives with hate in our heart; hate robs us of feeling joy and pleasure. We end up hurting ourselves more than the person who angered us.

We are warned:

Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry (Ephesians 4:26)

We hear again and again in the scriptures that we must forgive:

If you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you (Matthew 6:14-15)

Forgiveness is not saying “What you did to me is okay”. It is saying

“I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever”.

Forgiveness is the answer . . . let go, find peace, free yourself!

Conclusion
There is a thief named ‘Grudge’ and he comes in and out of our lives. He steals joy, time and our focus. Bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness builds up to be very ugly things in our lives and causes a negative effect on all our relationships.

So, in thinking upon all of this, it just be might be a good time to take a good look at ourselves and see if we are harboring grudges.

If we are, we should resolve to let them go. We should take those grudges right now and get rid of them. Then, make it a point to say

“I will not allow my life to be robbed by a grudge”.

We will truly be happier for having made that choice. For, if we choose to carry forgiveness in our hearts, there will be no room for any grudges to burden us down, and we will be able to walk in freedom to live joyful, rewarding lives.

To recap, we have determined that if we do the following things, we can change our lives:

    1. Cultivate friends who lift us up and support our best self
    2. Face our problems head on
    3. Think of our successes and hopes and dreams
    4. Always try to solve our problems, no matter how difficult
    5. Don’t hold onto grudges
    6. Forgive those who hurt us.

We can do wonderful things if we just:

    1. Don’t dwell in what ‘didn’t happen’
    2. Don’t hang around with people who drag us down
    3. Believe in ourselves – thinking we can do something is halfway to doing and being
    4. Learn from our mistakes, but don’t dwell on them; move past them, remembering what we learned from them
    5.  Be open to new experiences; do not be afraid to try – take a chance!

Amen.

 

Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 31 May 2015