Sermon by The Rev. Deacon Jon Owens 7-3-22

Pentecost IV 2022

Gay, Straight, Republican, Democrat, pro-life, pro-choice, guns,
no guns, war?

This week we commemorate our country and all it stands
for. There is a lot to be proud of and for many of us there is
probably much to grieve. I say this as a youth who is a Boys
state alumni, the brother of a retired military army officer and
whose family was actively engaged in Civil Air Patrol and who
has served and continues to serve as a public servant.
In the end these are labels, ways we have chosen to identify
ourselves and our principles. Sometimes my principles have
been known as a form of division. I have a little secret for you,
all those labors are fine, but there is only one label that
probably matters. I am a Child of God and that makes me
worthy of love and to proclaim that love to others because they
are too children of God wonderfully made and that together we
must keep telling people the kingdom of God is nearby.
It is actually a quite simple message…. And yet it is so charged.
Of course, other decisions are made. You see we have to make
decisions every day. But how many of our decisions are made
completely out of love? Now I do not want to get fear disguised
as concern and love mixed up sometimes the two can get
confused. You see there is a message we are asked to share
with one another. Some people will receive it openly and

others might be ready to look at you like the zombie apocalypse
has happened and they will not be having any of that. You
know the people who throw their hands in the air, and they
immediately objectify the answer because perhaps they have
their own baggage to deal with. We all know those sort of
people. We simply shake the dust off our sandals and go on our
way to those willing to listen.

It is probably harder than ever to get those messages
across. We have all this technology and yet people have ways
of tuning out that which they do not want to hear. They choose
to not engage. We think we are engaging but all too often we
live in our own echo chambers. Think about it. If you are a
social media person you choose to join the like-minded groups,
we surround us with our friends, but some of when we do not
like what we hear we cancel friends and family and avoid them.
The real issue is people simply have unlearned how to have a
conversation around disagreement more than ever. We do not
have constructive debate or exchanges in dialogue and that to
me is the real tragedy of our country, not even our nation but
the world.

Many of us want to achieve the same results, but we get
stuck on the way to achieve it. For example, if I say who wants
world peace. I do not think there would be anyone here who
would not raise their hand. However, it gets complex… in order
to have world peace, do we have to be total pacifists, can we
believe in just war theory or is it something else?

We can debate theology and have for centuries.
Remember people like Isaac Newton who was considered a
heretic. He said the earth was round and he rejected the notion
of the Trinity. And yet after all this he was buried among Kings
and Queens at Westminster Abbey. Or Charles Darwin, the
person people attribute the theory of evolution and yet some
cannot handle it. Charles Darwin struggled with the notion of
becoming a priest. He was less concerned with the Bible as
history, but questions of morality and was worried about the
concept of evil. He too was buried in Westminster of Abbey.
There are many people who if given the opportunity would
jump at the opportunity to change the world. But it can seem
all so daunting. So many barriers to change. We think about
gridlock in our government when we want policies to shift to
help our society. We wonder is anyone even listening. But there
are those who will listen. Those who want to reinvigorate their
communities and be a part of something greater. But you know
where it starts. It starts with genuine concern. It starts with
nurturing of every individual, and it starts with an expression of
love. When people do not feel their own needs and concerns
are being addressed it is harder for them to act
compassionately toward the other. Barriers are thrown up and
meanwhile those with self-interest swoop in among the
divisiveness.I do not sway from my message that God loves everyone. I
have two questions for you to ponder today.

The first is in two parts
1) How do you cultivate love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-
control? How does this help you in bearing another’s
Again, we are called to support each other. When people
are not supported, they become apprehensive, hopeless,
feel trapped. But when people are supported, they feel
they can get through anything. We are called to help carry
the cross as people did for Jesus on a long and
burdensome road. I can tell you in my experience here at
St Alban’s this is something the community is actively
involved in. We as a community work hard to ensure that
all our members are connected and cared for. It is a sign
we are never alone.

“As a mother comforts her child, so God will comfort you; you
shall be comforted in Jerusalem. 14 You shall see, and your heart
shall rejoice; your bodies shall flourish like the grass; and it shall
be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants, and his
indignation is against his enemies.”
But this leads to the second question. Going beyond our church

2) What does it mean for you to be sent out into the
world in peace to love and serve the Lord?

A world who skeptical, scared, hurting and even self-
absorbed. A world in which we are seeing things unravel before
our feet. War has not become better. Inflation begins putting
pressure on family finances and policies that will cause some to
act in desperation. There is a lot of work out there to do my
friends and it requires you to be vulnerable. It requires to
accept the hospitality of others. Something sometimes we are
too proud to accept, but it is a gift. Being vulnerable is a
strength not a weakness in it we find peace and comfort and
able to express to others the “kingdom of God is near.”
And because this I will say to God, “How awesome are your
deeds! Because of your great power, your enemies cringe
before you.” You are righteousness and source of all goodness,
justice and love. AMEN!