That Gospel Crazy Law

The following is only an excerpt of this sermon. The full sermon can be heard by clicking the audio link below.

Luke 10.25-37

I’m going to go out on a limb here… have any of you heard of this thing called the ‘Internet’? Yes, you use the internet? Wonderful tool, isn’t it? One of the blessings of the Internet is that it offers us a place where folks like you and me can discuss and learn. It offers a chance for us to offer our thoughts and our opinions and to listen to the perspectives of others. It offers us the opportunity for mature and reasoned and useful dialogue. Right? Right? Well, the opportunity is there. Yes, the comments section on internet stories offer us chances for good dialogue, but that’s not what we get, much of the time.

There is a maxim that has been offered about internet dialogue called “Godwin’s Law” – I don’t know if any of you have heard that. It’s an observation, and I’m paraphrasing here, that no matter what the discussion may be, it can be about science or politics, it doesn’t matter what it is, at some point sooner or later, someone is going to call someone else a Nazi. Or someone’s going to compare another to a Nazi. Sooner or later, dialogue devolves, says the maxim, to a place where one demonizes another as the epitome of evil. That’s what Nazis are, right? The epitome of evil.

It’s interesting for me to reflect on what this says about us, that this maxim turns out so often to be true, but the reason I raise this law at this moment is that it popped into my head when I was thinking about the story that Jesus tells us in scripture. Because Jesus seems to fall right into Godwin’s Law. Jesus and the lawyer, scripture says… Well, let me go off on a small tangent here. I had to apologize in the first service to Nathan, who happens to be a lawyer, and lawyers you know, always get a bad rap, right?. Any other lawyers here? Sorry about that! But in this story I have to come clean and say that the lawyer is much more like a scholar of the Torah, a bible teacher, a preacher. That’s me.

Jesus and the one who studies the bible are having a discussion, and a good one. They are dialoguing about the law and the lawyer asks a question that we all ask at one point or another: What do we need to do to inherit eternal life? It’s a good discussion, perking along, and wouldn’t you know it, Godwin’s Law comes up because Jesus ends up talking about a Nazi. Except that in the telling of his story, the Nazi is the hero and not the demon. Jesus tells the story about a Samaritan playing the role of hero. Now Samaritans weren’t Nazis, but for the lawyer and many of Jesus’ listeners, the Samaritans were the hated enemy. The hated ones. The demonized ones. If you wanted to insult a Jew, you would say, “You Samaritan, you.”

(To listen to the sermon in full, please click below)

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  • Courageous Ministry

    Dear Friends,

    I hope this month’s edition of the Pulse finds you and your loved ones navigating life and faith with as much grace and self-compassion as possible. I know that some in our community have welcomed summer as a time to travel with family and friends, and to be reunited with loved ones. Others continue to struggle with health issues, isolation, and anxiety about the resurgence of Covid with the Delta variant. In the immortal words of Paul to the Romans, as a community, we “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” There is a chair or pew here on Sunday mornings for people in all seasons of life, and an open door to my office for any burdens (or celebrations) to be shared. I hope that you will join us or tune in via livestream on August 8th when I incorporate a compassion ritual in our worship services, to mark the lingering impact of Covid on the lives of God’s people everywhere. 

    Whether you have been in Bruner Hall often this summer, or it has been some time since you’ve walked through the doors of FPC, I want to share with you some happenings that I celebrate as we continue to serve faithfully as an inclusive community of faith and compassion at FPC Logan. Since the beginning of Pastor Derek’s sabbatical on June 1st, we welcomed four guest preachers who shared the Good News with us, from Scriptures ranging from Genesis to the Gospels, from Ezekiel to Ephesians. Two of these preachers are women who I’ve had the privilege of mentoring as ministers in the ordination process with the Presbyterian Church in Utah. At summer’s end, we will welcome two additional preachers to share in our worship life, and I will conclude my ongoing spiritual disciplines sermon series later this month. 

    This summer, FPC has been home to Loaves & Fishes and a series of Red Cross Blood Drives. In June, our middle schoolers organized and delivered a supplies drive for Cache Humane Society, with two middle schoolers traveling to American Fork Canyon for a reservoir clean-up with presbytery peers. Eight high schoolers from FPC Logan traveled with me to Denver, where we served with Habitat for Humanity for four days, offering a total of 22 hours of service each. In two weeks, we will gather at Stokes Nature Center for earth care efforts. The Mission Committee is gearing up to prepare us for another Mission Sunday at FPC this fall. I learned that just this week, the Sew n’ Sews prepared a large shipment of homemade sanitary pads to benefit our neighbors in Ethiopia. Beth MacDonald and Barbara Troisi have been busy processing Deacon’s Fund applications to provide for the safety and welfare of neighbors here in Cache Valley. Barbara and Dorothy Jones visited our neighbors at Williamsburg with Cache Ministries in early July. Truly, there is no summer break in the ministry of FPC Logan! 

    In their meetings in June and July, your session has thoughtfully and prayerfully navigated decisions about worship safety precautions, knowing that there is no “right answer” about how to be the Church in a pandemic. Even among our Presbyterian churches in Utah, there is no uniform approach to worship in these strange days. We are discerning together, and the updated policy you received this week is the session’s most current discernment of how FPC Logan can be both a welcoming and safe house of worship for every beloved child of God, from the under 12 to the most senior among us. In electing the elders to serve on session, you covenant to pray for them and to abide by their decision-making. I hope and pray that you will continue to do both in the coming days and weeks.  

    Earlier this week, acknowledging the presence and concern of the Delta variant, the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, challenged us, the people of the Church, to “wait on the Lord and be of good courage.” Courage has many faces in Scripture and in our society today, but I am drawn to this Sunday’s passage from John in which the crowd went looking for Jesus. When they find him, Jesus instructs them to work for the food that endures for eternal life and reminds them that he is the bread of life. As we take up the charge to be of good courage, I hope that together, as a church community, we will be on the lookout for Jesus, the bread of life. I expect him to surprise us and challenge us, as he always does with his faithful followers in Scripture, the disciples and friends who want to do as Jesus does in the world. You will find him here at FPC Logan, whether we worship in Bruner or the Sanctuary, with or without masks, and you will find him in the community to which we are called as partners in ministry. Come and behold that God is doing a new thing in this place, if we only have the courage to answer the call, to work for the food that endures, and to fix our sight on Jesus, the bread of life. 

    In Christ’s promises,

    Pastor Meg

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