Sermon Summary for Sunday, February 17, 2019 | Respectfully submitted by Brenda Worley
Mother Mary’s sermon this Sunday was based on the teachings of Jeremiah, an Old Testament prophet. Jeremiah tells us that the Lord says that those who do not trust in him will be “like a shrub in the desert and shall not see when relief comes.” Those who do believe will be “like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream.” Mother Mary followed this with questions addressed to us about whom or what do we trust and how does that trust shape our life in the world and in the church.
At this point, she shared information about several stages of her faith story. As a child, God was like Santa Claus to her. Being good meant that he would be good to her. In her teen years she felt that her faith journey led her to understand that everyone who did not believe as she did would burn in hell, especially Catholics. She felt that men were closer to God and that to be close to God women had to submit to men. As she grew older she learned to question her faith. She grew to question the teaching that all Catholics were going to hell. To her parents’ objection she dated some Catholic boys and found that they seemed to be as good or better as the Lutheran boys of which her parents approved.
Upon leaving for college she was resolved to never go to church again, but somehow her faith in God persisted and her resolve lasted about three months. When Advent rolled around she realized that she was missing out on something more important than Big 10 football. So she returned to the Lutheran church, met her first husband, and they questioned the church’s teachings together. They divorced and she later remarried. Through her new husband Steve she developed a relationship with his mom, Toddy, who was a joyful Episcopalian and she realized that she wanted to be one, too.
Mother Mary is joyful in that she has found a faith home where she can continue to question, seek and grow. A community of seekers where it is okay to ask hard questions like “if God is so good, why does he allow such bad things to happen and how should faith shape our actions toward the poor, hungry, mournful, and those with whom we disagree.
At some point in our lives we all need to believe in something beyond ourselves. Faith come to us as a gift from the Spirit. We can not move closer to God by acts of piety and goodness. We must pray that God will send his Spirit to change our hearts. We must invite him to come near to us. This nearness will shape our actions, not vice versa. Faith is not so much what we think in our heads, but what we do in love.