The video for worship this week is up, ready to go live at 10am on Sunday, October 25th.
As we have done in previous weeks, I’ll ask that you have a bowl of water, something small to eat and drink, and a lit candle in your at-home worship space if you wish to have the fullest at-home worship experience. But as always, this is all optional.
On to the video!
The video has been taken down for reasons. The below sermon has been edited to reflect more accurately the gospel that we wish to convey.
Holy God, your truth liberates us from oppression and sets us free. Fill us with your Spirit this day, that we may continually be reformed to reflect your love and grace more faithfully, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Not all changes are right changes, especially when it is a difficult change. Changes like an unexpected or unwanted shift in employment, or relationship status, or income bracket. Changes like the loss of something that we love, be a person, a sentimental object, or even that favourite type of product that the store no longer carries. Changes like those we had to make to our lifestyles in these past 7 months of pandemic. These aren’t good changes, right?
But can they be?
“The truth will make you free.” Suddenly Jesus’ words in today’s gospel, the same gospel we get for every Reformation Sunday, hit a little different. We might be in the same mind of the Jews hearing Jesus speaking here and think, “free? We aren’t and never have been slaves to anyone, what do you mean, ‘free’?” Because telling someone that they need to be freed of something could be offensive. Just like saying they belong to someone like we talked about last week, it’s like telling them that they aren’t in control of themselves, they aren’t able to make their own decisions, that they aren’t independent and super strong like we all aspire to be. Essentially, suggesting that someone needs to be freed sounds like an insult, saying that they are weak, in need saving, and somehow a prisoner or a slave.
But, isn’t that true about us to a certain extent? I mean sure we’re not in jail or anything, but aren’t we sometimes helpless when it comes to battling certain bad habits… like say eating an overabundance of fried chicken as delicious as it is? Don’t we sometimes feel trapped, not physically trapped, but emotionally in a bad relationship, an unfulfilling job, or just a time in our lives when we can’t seem to find any joy or peace? Don’t we sometimes just want to let go of something, perhaps a certain skeleton in our closets, but it somehow keeps coming back to haunt us?
I know I’ve gone through like all of those things, so I can’t really say that I’m truly free from all that either. And I’m willing to bet that you know what I mean. I’m willing to bet that you all have times in your lives when all of this rings more than true. I’m willing to bet that more than a few of you might be going through this right now in this pandemic.
I mean we’ve been told we can’t do this or that or we have to do this and that or we have to live in a way that is unusual for us. And it’s hard to have to listen to all these things that we aren’t used to or comfortable with. It’s stifling because suddenly we’re no longer free to do all the things that we want to do. It’s just too much because the change is too great and we just prefer how things were from before.
You know, things like not having to washing our hands all the time, standing uncomfortably close to strangers and share their breathing space, rubbing dirt and germs onto our faces, and exercise our privilege as mostly middle class citizens of this free country. I know, I’m being a bit dramatic here, and I know there has been a lot of actual suffering because of this pandemic, like real problems and not just those first world problems we talked about a few weeks ago. But I do feel like a lot of the complaining that I’m seeing on social media from the naysayers is overly dramatic as well. Like how suddenly wearing a mask will cause you to suffocate when we’ve been wearing scarves over our faces for years when we face those Canadian winters. Or that the economy is going to crash because some rich people aren’t as rich anymore and can no longer step on the backs of the poor. Or our freedoms have been taken away because we can’t enjoy the creature comforts that much of the world was never able to enjoy even before this pandemic. Because really, all that was asked of us was to help slow the spread of this virus that is still relatively new to us when it comes to viruses. All that was asked of us was to care about our neighbours. All that was asked of us was to tweak our lives a bit for the best of all those around us.
But even that was a bit too much.
I know, there has been a lot of change and yes it can be uncomfortable. But I think much of the change that we’ve faced can be good, if we let it be. I think this change might have uncovered some of the inconvenient truths about us and our selfishness and brings to light how we might be better stewards of what we have and what we can give. I think some of those things we are no longer allowed to do has freed us to look out more for each other, to act more out of love for the neighbour, and to live more fully in the community in which we’ve been placed, allowing us to serve more, display God’s grace and mercy more, and answer more faithfully God’s call for us to be compassionate, charitable, and caring. Not all change has to be bad.
Earlier this week I was sent a video made by an internet personality and poet by the name of Tomfoolery of the website probablytomfoolery.com (I actually never heard of this guy so I had to look him up). But you might have seen his videos or even this particular one as it went viral like 4 months ago, but I think the message of this skit speaks a lot to what we’re talking about today.
Today is the day that we remember the start of the Reformation which happened like 500 years ago. A movement that changed the world as it was known in that time, questioned the realities of the elite and privileged, and essentially made the world a better place. There is a reason we celebrate this day, this change, this Reformation, and that’s because it helped us to realise more God’s unending and unconditional love for us, sinners saved by God’s grace. It helped us to see more of what God has provided for us and how we can find that life that truly is life in it. It helped to free us from the vices of our past and change us to be more compassionate, charitable, and caring for the sake of a world in need of just that.
So on this Reformation Sunday, may we remember our roots in the change that happened in the past that we might embrace the change that will happen in the future, that we can be constantly reformed within by the truth of God’s love and compassion, carrying us through this pandemic and always. Thanks be to God. Amen.