Sunday, September 5, 2010

Peace with Justice Sunday

This past summer our family traveled to and around Texas to visit our relatives and do some camping. While on the road, we were blessed by some terrific preaching. We tend to be pretty ecumenical. Our family belongs to a wonderful Episcopalian church in Arizona, but denominational divides sadden us greatly. One Sunday during our trip, we worshipped with a lovely Methodist congregation. The day we visited was apparently “Peace with Justice Sunday” in the Methodist church. The link below provides some information about that day:

The children’s pastor taught a great lesson to the kids gathered at the front of the sanctuary. She taught about how we all look different on the outside, but we’re the same inside and God loves us all equally. She used an analogy kids could understand: M&Ms. She had a volunteer child close her eyes and eat an M&M she was given. The child was asked to name which color of M&M she had eaten. She guessed incorrectly. The process was repeated several times. None of the volunteer children guessed correctly. The children’s pastor explained that our eyes can mislead us by having us focus on things that are irrelevant in the long run. And just like we enjoy all M&Ms equally, God treasures each of us the same regardless of what we look like on the outside. Amen!

After the children left the sanctuary to go to Sunday school, another pastor gave a sermon to the adults that hit upon a number of interesting points involving the overarching theme of “peace with justice.” The pastor spoke about the idea that justice is typically achieved via relationships. In one example, he spoke with humility that previously in his walk with Christ, he had been very bigoted against homosexuals. He shared humbly that God had softened his heart with regard to his attitudes due to a particular relationship.

The pastor explained he had had a friend at church for a long time, a very kind-hearted man who had ministered to this pastor spiritually and helped him in his walk. Eventually, the friend told this pastor he was gay. It was quite a shock to the pastor, but their friendship helped him understand homosexuality and his friend’s experience. The pastor went on to explain that because of that friendship he eventually became a supporter of an inclusive stance towards gays and lesbians in the church, and is an advocate of Reconciling Ministries. (For those of us who are not familiar with the Methodist church, an explanation of Reconciling Ministries is available at the following link:

Luke 5:27-29 (New King James Version)

After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.
Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them.

Luke 19:1-2, 5-8 (New King James Version)

Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”
Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”

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