“Community: A Communion Of Unity” ~ May 17, 2015 Sermon

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Sermon For May 17, 2015 ~ “Celebrating Community”

Romans 12 ( http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=298857033 )

“Community: A Communion Of Unity”

Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Cleveland, Ohio ~ http://www.FranklinCircleChristianChurch.org

Rev. Allen V. Harris, Pastor & Preacher ~ E-Mail: PastorAllen@FranklinCircleChurch.org

Twitter: @FranklinCircle ~ Pastor’s Blog: https://nearwestclevepastor.wordpress.com

A video of this sermon can be found online at: https://youtu.be/gPtkc5ka-dY

IntrovertExtrovertHow many of you have ever heard of the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory? It is a pretty standard questionnaire that seeks to determine a person’s basic psychological and social type. The first of the four scales that it references is whether or not someone is more of an introvert or an extrovert, whether they are more comfortable alone or in groups. I have taken the assessment several times and every single time I fall right in the middle, only a notch or two one way or the other. This feels so true to my own experience, for I am both an introvert and an extrovert... and everything in-between! To look at this positively, it means that I am as comfortable in a crowded community, addressing large assemblies, as I am in speaking with someone one-on-one or even in being completely alone with myself. I attribute any success I may have had as a pastor to this ability to balance these two worlds.

Of course, those of you who are astute will have figured out already that the opposite can sometimes be true: there are moments I am painfully uncomfortable in crowds and times when my skin crawls when I am alone. At my most brazenly honest moments, I see myself as a painfully shy introvert trapped in a chronically exposed extrovert’s life. But, thankfully, these have been few and far between, or at least I have been able to adapt to the dilemma in a socially acceptable way. When I have failed to manage this well, I ask your forgiveness.

ChristInCommunityAnd while both skill sets are helpful, and needed, in being a fully functioning pastor, it is the ability to be comfortable in, to nurture and sustain, and to promote community that I think is the more important ability in the 21st century, and an especially-needed trait in the Church. I say this for all those reasons social commentators and church pundits have been exploring and explaining ad naseum these last few decades, but also because I believe the ability to create and celebrate community is at the core of the Judeo-Christian faith and the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Commentators and pundits have pointed out that due to a variety of reasons, modern American/western civilization’s social skills have become less and less actualized and we have become a far more individualized culture. Robert Putnam’s ground-breaking social commentary from 1997, Bowling Alone: The Collapse And Revival Of American Community, highlighted how our human capital has become more and more focused on private good rather than public good, and how our sense of membership has become more focused on online philanthropy and cyber-activism and less on joining civic-minded groups and long-term participation in them. Added to this is the social media phenomenon where groups of friends, colleagues, even family members are focused, sometimes exclusively, on the small screen in front of them, seemingly to the exclusion of the people physically gathered around them, all the while connecting to others near and far via posts and tweets.

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Small Group of Franklin Circle Christian Church serving together at the Cleveland Christian Home.

Small Group of Franklin Circle Christian Church serving together at the Cleveland Christian Home.

o one of the places where community is still in vogue, is still de riguer, is still common is church. Our faith communities are just that, communities, and while drive-in worship services and sermons posted on YouTube get some press, the idea of showing up to church remains the norm, and when we don’t do it there is still a sense of guilt, even if only passing. So my premise has been these last fourteen years of this congregation’s 173-year history, to focus on building community, nurturing community, sustaining community, and celebrating community. And these last five weeks I have tried to share with you how I have been doing that.

We first considered honoring diversity and focused on Isaiah 56:1-8. We then explored what it meant to liberate laughter, and used 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 as our guide. Next we focused on ensuring justice, and heard Jesus’ speech in the synagogue from Luke 4:14-30 as our own clarion call. Last week we discussed the need to nurture love, with Paul’s case for God’s love in Romans 8:31-39 central to the conversation. These four facets of healthy group life make it possible to truly celebrate community, and I have chosen my favorite scripture from when I began to be a part of the church community as a teenager, Romans 12, as my text today. Let me remind you a little of what I said in these past few weeks.

Watch Night Fun at Franklin Circle Christian Church

Watch Night Fun at Franklin Circle Christian Church

Creation is naturally diverse, and God was richly creative in the way in which humanity has been shaped. But given our human inclinations, we gravitate toward the familiar, the comfortable, and the easy – those just like us. This is not what God wants. Period. God created us diverse for a reason, because we learn and grow best when we are around those who are different from us. When we are reminded, cajoled, and invited to look out for those who are most different from us – even when we are accused of being “politically correct” by doing so – then we are better for it. Franklin Circle Christian Church was diverse when I arrived, but no one can deny that we are far more integrated and empowered as a diverse community today, in not only those who come to our programs and sit in our pews, but those who sit on our church boards and teams and those who envision our future.

HolyHumorSunday

Holy Humor Sunday at Franklin Circle Christian Church

Humor and laughter provide the lubrication and release valve (to create a weirdly mixed metaphor) for community life… but not just any humor and not just any laughter. Jesus made it quite clear that the foolishness in which God engages is never at the expense of someone else and always looks for the joy that can only come in building people up. Holy humor is humor that understands the true absurdity of life – where amoebas and giraffes, long division and black holes, Laverne and Shirley, Ponce de Leon, and Queen Latifa can all exist in the same universe. God-made-real-in-Jesus knew that if the divine being shouldn’t take her/him/itself too seriously, then we ought not to, either. Franklin Circle Christian Church is such an incredibly important and necessary community of faith, on the Near West Side of Cleveland, in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and in the warp and woof of humanity that we simply must laugh at ourselves and enjoy the ride!

GodBeforeGunsMarchAnd then there is justice, which just doesn’t happen, but must be ensured that it will happen. It takes hard work, sweat, and sometimes even tears to make sure that the compassion God had for humanity, the love Jesus had for the poor, the widow, the orphan, the immigrant, is made real. We will be confident and unapologetic engaging in acts of charity and benevolence that cares for the least amongst us today, as we seek to empower people to be their own change agents and their own best advocates, AND as we seek to address the systemic causes of racism, poverty, ableism, disease, ageism, illiteracy, sexism, homophobia, and heterosexism. Franklin Circle Christian Church has long been on that arc of the moral universe focused on justice, but we must be vigilant lest we be torn apart by those who use false dichotomies and pit justice against compassion or advocacy against evangelism. We know that to do the will of God, follow Jesus, and build the Beloved Community requires doing justice AND loving kindness AND walking humbly with our God.

Ted & Mary Brogan celebrate their wedding anniversary

Ted & Mary Brogan celebrate their wedding anniversary

Fourthly, whatever we do, whether it be honoring diversity, liberating laughter, or ensuring justice… we must do it with love. Love is the very essence of God and is the ultimate charge Jesus has given to us, his followers. And this has been both the easiest task and the hardest challenge in this congregation. When one gathers folks together, particularly those who have been hurt by loved ones, disregarded by society, and ridiculed by the whims of the world, it is hard not to take out those injuries and offences on those closest to you, those who have opened their arms and hearts to you. But we cannot shoot the wounded! So communities like Franklin Circle Christian Church must love one another and the world around us all the more fully, passionately, even sacrificially. We must love those who are most unlovable, at least by the world’s standards, for that is what Jesus did. We must love humbly, knowing both the majesty of our place in creation and the minuteness of our place in the universe. Our love must be wrapped up with abundant forgiveness, of ourselves and one another, and we must ask for forgiveness as if our lives depend upon it… because they do.

Franklin Circle Christian Church Elders

Franklin Circle Christian Church Elders

And a community that is able to do these things, honor diversity, liberate laughter, ensure justice, and nurture love, as Franklin Circle Christian Church does and will continue to do, is a community that must be celebrated! This church is Good News to a world hell-bent on bad news. This church is a sign of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and will, if you let it, bring new life to those who are all but dead to themselves and to the world around them. This church is a city on a hill that cannot be hid, it is salt that brings flavor to a painfully boring existence for many, it is a candle that cannot, should not, will not be hidden. No! Proclaim it from the mountaintops! Run or roll or hobble or dance down the streets and avenues and proclaim God is alive and well and living in this community called Franklin Circle Christian Church to friend and neighbor and stranger alike! Celebrate Community, for you are a damn fine community to be celebrated!

Amen.

“Nurturing Love” ~ May 10, 2015 Sermon

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Sermon For May 10, 2015 ~ “Nurturing Love”

Romans 8:31-39 ( http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=298220900 )

“A Love For all Occasions”

Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Cleveland, Ohio ~ http://www.FranklinCircleChristianChurch.org

Rev. Allen V. Harris, Pastor & Preacher ~ E-Mail: PastorAllen@FranklinCircleChurch.org

Twitter: @FranklinCircle ~ Pastor’s Blog: https://nearwestclevepastor.wordpress.com

A video of this sermon can be found at: https://youtu.be/OxNIqcgISvY

I love you. I say that not so much as an introduction to my sermon as a statement of fact. I love you. I am also well aware that even as I say those three simple words they will be heard in a multitude of ways, perhaps even in as many ways as there are people in this room. For some of you the phrase will take on a decidedly romantic quality, and for others perhaps a more spiritual quality. For a few, you will hear it with some suspicion, wondering how I could say that when I don’t know you well enough to do so. Others will be miffed for how could I say that when I haven’t done this for you or that for you.  I understand all of this.  I say it nonetheless because it is as true as is the fact that I am standing before you here and now. I love you.

baby-loveLove is a complex human emotion, and it is imbued with all of our memories from the first imprinting after birth to the most recent encounter or even thought we had this day. But even as multifaceted and complicated as it is, it is clearly one of the words and concepts scripture uses to define the fundamental relationship God has with us and we are to have with God and one another. 1 John 4:7-8 says it in unmistakable language: Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.

 

For the love of God, could it be any clearer? And if that wasn’t enough, Jesus, the very embodiment of God’s love as the next few verses makes plain, tells us in no uncertain terms the fulfillment of all the requirements of God is to love: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’

loveGod“There is no other commandment that is greater than these,” Jesus says, without a hint of irony or sarcasm and without wincing a bit in that all-knowing sort of way you’d think messiahs would do. How can Jesus say love and all of scripture point towards love knowing that as human nature would have it we would cause each other, even those of our own faith and family, irreparable harm through wars, lynching, beatings, ostracism, name calling, gossip, parking lot conversations, and hate texting?   Does it not make a mockery of faith to read these words in church knowing there will be little evidence of them lived out in the world around us or in our very own lives, or at least seemingly so?

And yet God, even more surely and profoundly than I can possibly muster, says it to us again, more firmly and more often: I love you. I love you. I love you.

This section of the book of Romans, Paul’s love letter to the church and his epic theological treatise, builds a case for faith, especially a faith that is not beholden to the whims and incertitude of the human condition. Paul proposes that since all of us, every last blessed one of us human beings, sins and falls short of the glory of God, we need God. The apostle also builds the argument that if we rely only on human means for dealing with this sin or covenant-breaking – first and foremost using the law to address sin – we will never, ever come out right. Law has its uses in order to address grievances. But there is one thing the law simply cannot speak to and it is the very essence of God: love. So how do we have a faith that honors the law but moves beyond it in order to live into love? Well, we put our faith in God’s wily, wonder-filled, unpredictable Holy Spirit and we follow the ways of the very incarnation of God, Jesus Christ.

And here is the very best way to put our faith in the Spirit more fully and follow Jesus more closely: believe with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength that God is for us, loves us, and will never let anything come between us! So then the essence of all faith is to trust that the very author of life, the very creator of the universe, the very savior of the world loves each and every one of us and will never, ever, ever stop loving us! Nothing can separate us from God’s love, and as I made it clear before, love is the most important thing we can do, feel, think, believe, imagine!

But this trust is hard. Trust remains one of the most difficult things we humans so, especially when it’s wrapped around love. We’ve been hurt so many times before. We’ve loved and lost. We’ve squandered our love on silly things and thoughtless people, and we’ve ached for love that never came, that never even knew our name.

My young friend, Jackson Cobb, shows his love for his grandmother by helping her with her computer skills.

My young friend, Jackson Cobb, shows his love for his grandmother by helping her with her computer skills.

I would offer three thoughts on both trust and love, which is to say faith and love, which is to say our relationship with God and one another. How do we move beyond the law and live into this love? We specialize in those who are either the hardest to love are those who are the least loved. We must love those who are most unlovable, at least by the world’s standards, For that is what Jesus did. That is why congregations such as Franklin Circle Christian Church are so incredibly important, because we proclaim and live out this kind of love. We understand that there are those who society has kicked to the curb who need our love the most. I spoke of this last week when I shared the biblical mandate to love the poor, the orphan, the widow, the immigrant, the quartet of the vulnerable. I have tried to focus on two: our children and those who are in abject poverty. They lead us to the deep core of the love of God. One would think that serving them would be depressing, but, in fact, serving them inspires us and empowers them.

YouAreHereThe second notion is that a profound understanding of humility allows us to trust more deeply and love more fully. Humility is knowing our rightful place in the scheme of things, thinking neither too highly nor too lowly of ourselves. In the Quaker tradition, it is the sense of being in the place just right: Here is where I am, let me live fully into my place in the world. To love humbly is to stand at the dark edge of the chasm and to throw your heart into the darkness, and never, ever expect it to come back. God is in that darkness. Somehow, how I do not understand and cannot expect, that love comes back to me.

A young couple at once close and far apart, together in a feeling of loss and sadness, but each trapped inside their own memory.

A young couple at once close and far apart, together in a feeling of loss and sadness, but each trapped inside their own memory.

And the third awareness I offer you in our attempts to trust and love more is that forgiveness transforms everything. We must know that no loving will be perfect. The ability to step back, take assessment of a situation or relationship, and either ask for or offer sincere forgiveness changes the chemistry of both trust and love. Now, the forgiveness I’m talking about is not one that lets injustice off the hook. Nor am I talking about an easy nor cheap forgiveness where someone always gives in just because it is easier, of less complicated, or quicker. I am talking about a prayerful, discerning, honest forgiveness that truly transforms the heart, thus transforming the persons involved. It is not mechanical, you cannot “put the coin in” and “get the forgiveness out.” It is organic, and must come from within. But when forgiveness flows, it releases you and frees us all.

Love, the kind that is able to overcome all things that might separate us from God and one another, is offered first and foremost to those the world finds hardest to love, it is shaped by authentic humility and genuine forgiveness. May every “I Love You” be shaped by inclusiveness, humility and forgiveness. Then we will truly know God and be like God. Amen.

“While Shepherds Watched: The Bethlehem Shepherds” ~ December 21, 2014 Sermon

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Sermon For December 21, 2014 ~ Advent 4 ~ Love

Micah 5:2-5a & Luke 2:8-12

“While Shepherds Watched: The Bethlehem Shepherds”

Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Cleveland, Ohio ~ www.FranklinCircleChristianChurch.org

Rev. Allen V. Harris, Pastor & Preacher ~ E-Mail: PastorAllen@FranklinCircleChurch.org

Twitter: @FranklinCircle ~ Pastor’s Blog: https://nearwestclevepastor.wordpress.com

To see a video of this sermon, go online to: http://youtu.be/Or7tZrbMthM

 

Where do you find love? Well, this week this one is easy… especially when you ask dear friends and devoted colleagues for help. After bumbling through hope, scouring for peace, and begging for joy… love, the theme of the fourth Sunday of Advent, comes pouring forth.

 

Love is found when a dozen church faithful weather the blistering cold and slick sidewalks to photo 3-1take packages of hot chocolate, dog treats, bubbles, and holiday invitations out into the neighborhood door by door, both learning about the world in our backyard and showing a real presence in the midst of the people we serve.

 

photo 5Love is found when someone from the congregation, who isn’t currently serving as an Elder this year, still chooses to cook food and take it to a grieving member and spend hours sharing stories and tears and laughter and love.

 

Love is found when a teacher rushes to a hospital emergency room to be with a student from her school who has been shot and waits well into the wee hours of the morning anxiously and hopefully with a family in shock, even when that student was not in her class, and then grieves with the family and community when the news is shared that the young man has died.

 

photo 4Love is found when members of the congregation gather to make beautiful a sanctuary and a church building of which they have grown so fond, so that others can celebrate with us the beauty of the season, and when new and creative ideas about how to draw attention to this dynamic urban community of faith are offered and carried out, to bring light to the night and hope to the seeker.

 

Love is found when a delightful and diverse group of folks gather weekly for hours at a time to pour over musical scores, follow the lead of the section leader, and hone their vocal skills, and who laugh with and love each other like their lives depended upon it, in order to give glory to God and share the gift of music that has transformed their own lives and spiritual journeys.

 

Love is found when a devoted daughter and a committed partner visit their loved one day in and day out, no matter what health care institution she is staying in, and who oversees dozens and dozens of details for her care and medical needs even when there seems to be no hope in site.

 

Love is found when cards are written to dozens and dozens of folks related to this congregation, from longtime members who we haven’t seen in years, to folks we’ve just been missing for a while, to others who are ill or injured, to people who’ve just visited us recently… stacks of cards from youth group members and from individual deacons and from so many other caring individuals.

 

Love is found when a senior member of the congregation goes into hospice and visits come from young and old alike, cards are sent and calls are made, and his beloved family, his church buddies, and of course his girlfriend remain dedicated to caring for him, hearing his latest plans and schemes for the future, and praying for him madly, regardless of what the future may hold.

 

photo 1 Love is found when we gather to mourn the death of someone we loved so dearly while at the very same time celebrating the existence of one who’s life was well lived, whether it be through stories told and memories shared, or the magical mixture of mariachi music and organ playing!

 

Love is found when one of our hardest working members has to pull back in order to focus on her photo 3own health and healing, and so many people step forward to ensure the vital ministries of this congregation continue, from adding days to their regular work schedule to adding hours to their volunteer duties, to calling her to ensure her it will be done exactly – exactly as she planned!

photo 2

Love is found when my musician friends choose to again spend enormous time, energy, and passion to bring almost a hundred young people across the boundaries of city, county, and society to sing with our own choir and play music that unites us and shows the very best of what our world can be.

 

Love is found when people respond to the call to cook food or bake cookies, and hearts are poured into the task, love made real in stuffed cabbage, savory meatballs, pounds of shortbread, brownies, and chocolate chip cookies.

 

Love is everywhere my beloved congregation. And this list – culled only from the last month of this congregation’s life – doesn’t even begin to do justice to all the love that pours from this church, and from you as individuals serving God and caring for God’s people out in the world where you live and sleep and work and serve.

 

Here is the truth I’ve learned this Christmas: Christ came into our lives not so that hope would be easy, not so that peace would be plain and simple, not so that joy would be made obvious, and certainly not so that love would be cheap or common. Jesus Christ came into our world so that hope, peace, joy, and love would be made real: real in all their gritty, honest, day-in-and-day-out truth.

 

All too often I get waylaid by the glitz and glamour of the holiday traditions and begin to think that the faith that I follow should be as easy to find as the sentiment on a greeting card on the store shelf or the muzak playing in the mall. Faith is never that easy. However, faith is always simple… it just requires our all. Everything we are and all that we have. That’s why we celebrate the season with a savior who became one of us, lived and laughed, taught, listened, and healed, walked, prayed, and fell to his knees, loved and died just like one of us. If the shepherds of the faith taught us anything, it is that when God comes to us, life gets much more complicated, much more real, much more amazing, much more transforming. But we will have to watch for it!

 

Love is found when we stop looking for Christmas in a package, and simply begin to live it. Love made real in the acts of service, devotion, dedication, compassion, solidarity, and love you offer to one another, to the world around us, and to God. And for that love, I am eternally grateful.

 

Amen

“Preferential Treatment Or Loving Discernment?” ~ September 15, 2013 Sermon

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Sermon For Sunday, September 15, 2013

Luke 15:1-10

“Preferential Treatment Or Loving Discernment?”

Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples Of Christ)

Cleveland, Ohio ~ www.FranklinCircleChurch.org

Rev. Allen V. Harris, Pastor & Preacher

Blog: https://nearwestclevepastor.wordpress.com; Twitter: @FranklinCircle

To watch a video of this Sunday’s sermon, go online to: http://youtu.be/VkRQJfty47E

Woman Watching Television with DogIsn’t it just like us to want our pets – our cats, dogs, birds, hamsters, even goldfish – to think and act just like us humans?  Isn’t it easier that way?  I mean, we know intuitively they don’t, but sometimes we really need them to have the same kind of emotions and human intelligence that we do… or, to be honest, better than we do!  How many times have you come home from school or work and, having had a bad day, immediately scoop up your dog or your cat and hug them?  It really feels like they know or understand instinctively the terrible, awful, no good mood you are in.  Or when you come home to a… shall we say “gift” in the middle of the living room and you shout out “bad dog!” we expect them to know what they did and repent and be baptized and never do it again!  We aren’t ever truly sure what they know or think or why they act they way they do, but it just seems to feel better if we presume, on some level, that they reason like we humans do.

That takes me back to the famous Far Side cartoon by Gary Larson in which the first panel of the cartoon has a man talking to his dog saying, “Well, Skippy, if you are a good dog you’ll get your favorite food today.  And if you’re really good, I’ll give you a treat!”  In the second panel it’s the exact same scene, only from the dog’s perspective, and the dialogue balloon has simply, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah FOOD. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, TREAT!”  If we were honest, we would realize our pets are animals and have very little of the character, moral reasoning, and agency we ascribe to them.  That doesn’t mean they can’t love and be loved, by any means!  But probably in a much less complex and reactive way than we think.

In the same way I think we attribute moral agency to the animals in Jesus’ story of the lost sheep in Luke 15.  When I think of this story I spend a lot of time in my mind pondering why that doggone one sheep wondered off, putting the shepherd and thus the rest of the sheepfold at risk.  Was it hungry and out looking for more food?  Was it feeling a bit amorous and out looking for a mate?  Was it curious and out looking for adventure?  Or, my most frequent evaluation, was it simply stupid and out making stupid decisions?  In any case, I ascribe motives to the sheep as if I were talking about my brother.

Patrick & Wesley Harris

Patrick & Wesley Harris

Which leads me to talk about my brother.  The poor guy… The longer I live and the more I preach the larger he becomes in the minds of my dear congregation.  May God bless Patrick Wesley Harris and his memory!  In any case, I have spent quite a bit of my adult life ascribing to my brother, who was quite often a case in contrast to me as a teen and young adult, particular motives.  Much like the one sheep in Jesus’ story, Pat “wondered off” time and time again, which necessitated my mother having to go and find him.  Central to the story – of course – is that I felt like the ninety nine who’d been left behind “at risk,” or so I felt.

Now, please don’t infer that I simplify my brother’s actions to those of a sheep or any other animal.  I am quite aware that my brother, like all of us, had perfectly intact moral reasoning and was actually a very smart man who knew the consequences of his actions.  But the older I get and the more decisions I have to make, the more and more I understand that morality isn’t the simple equation of 1+1=2.  Actually, understanding the rich complexities of human beings as mammals and part of the diverse fabric of life on this planet may help us understand human behaviors more fully.  This is one of the reasons why I shall never pit the sciences against theology or biblical interpretation.  They can inform each other!

What I have come to conclude is that I don’t know a damn thing about why my brother did what he did, and that it is simply a waste of my time and his memory to try to figure out why he might have wrecked this car or that motorcycle, why he got into this fight or yelled at that girlfriend, what put him into jail or caused him to go on such a terrible binge of drinking and drugging.  Like the sheep in Jesus’ story, I will never know why he did what he did.  But…

But… we are given a hint as to why the shepherd did what he did.  Jesus says, “When he has found it (the lost one), he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”  In the same way the shepherd rejoices… in the same way the woman who finds the lost coin rejoices… in the same way the father whose son has returned home rejoices… my mother rejoiced every time my brother, who was lost, was found.  Her emotions and moral compass are clear – the one who was in the most need required the most attention.  Pure and simple.

icon-of-the-good-shepherdNow the reason I spend so much time on the motives of the lost sheep and my lost brother is to point out how much time we spend on evaluating their motives AND the motives of those who go about seeking, finding, receiving, and rejoicing when they are lost.  Scripture does not, however, worry about why they were lost, why someone felt the need to seek them out, but only that they were found and great rejoicing ensued!!!  We cry out “preferential treatment,” “entitlement,” “welfare,” “waste,” and that most horrible of accusations known to those of us who wag our fingers so well, “coddling!!!”  We seem to have perfected in our human interactions the ability to not only assume, but know why people do the things they do, most especially if they are the recipient of help, aid, support, assistance, and – dare I say it – grace.

But in all three stories there is no time given nor ink spilled with Jesus’ worrying about the motives of the lost sheep, the lost coin (well, that’s an easy one!), or the lost son.  Only through the eyes of the stable, hard working, reliable, older brother do we get the sense of judgment and morality.  If we took scripture seriously, we would spend far more time expecting, celebrating, and “rejoicing,” when the lost are found than on worrying why they were lost in the first place!

Scripture is born in the understanding of human beings being created “imago dei,” “in the image of God.”  Therefore we must take Jesus’ descriptions of God – even if nestled deeply into parable and allegory – quite seriously as guides for our lives as God’s good creation.  Are there other places in scripture where God is portrayed as judgmental, morally demanding, and righteously expectant?  Yes, in both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures we find a very insistent divinity.  But here, here in the passionate words and images of Jesus, we have a generous and extravagantly loving God who clearly wants us to “go, and do the same.”

So what does this mean for our life together as a society and as a church?  Well, I would like to think it means we should have more parties!  Lots and lots more parties!  It may also mean that we should continue and even expand our judgment-free ministries of service that we do so well, with meals and clothing and groceries and programming for our community – no questions asked.  We would do well also to watch our language when people who have been away a while from church come back.  I’ve stopped the practice of joking about seeing someone again after a long time (“look, the ceiling didn’t fall in like you feared!”) which tends to draw out more shame and guilt, and simply celebrate they are here.

But I also think that this means we need to be leaven in the society around us.  We need to bring the attitude of gratitude, as they say, to our everyday lives.  When the person in front of us in the check-out counter uses food stamps to buy non-essential groceries, not only do we need to spend less time evaluating why they bought the steak or the twinkies and worry more about why our society has such huge gaps between people of poverty and people of wealth, we must also risk speaking up when the person behind us in line pipes up with a terrible disparaging remark afterwards.

hugIf we truly do believe God acts more out of a sense of discerning love and rarely, if ever, from a sense of preferential treatment, we need to be agents of grace in a world that is ever more populated with persons focused on critical attack.  Those of us who have enough should hear the words offered the older brother when his parent says, “all that I have is yours… but we had to celebrate and rejoice!”  This is a constitutionally different way of being and living in the world.  The joy of it is that when we are lost… and all of us will be lost at some point in our lives… we will benefit from just such an attitude of rejoicing when we are found, when we’ve come home.  This is the good news of the gospel:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.

Amen.

“Forgiveness Opens Up Resurrection“ ~ March 31, 2013 ~ Easter Sermon

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Sermon For Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013

Luke 24:1-12

+ Forgiveness: A Season Of Release +

“Forgiveness Opens Up Resurrection“

Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Cleveland, Ohio ~ www.FranklinCircleChurch.org

Rev. Allen V. Harris, Pastor & Preacher

To watch the video of this sermon, click HERE:  http://youtu.be/KEfh8Oqvyso

I believe that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest act of forgiveness ever known to humanity, or creation itself, for that matter.

But, I’ll be honest, I don’t believe that statement in the way most people think I might, and certainly not in the way the vast majority of preachers are addressing it this morning.  I am not saying they are wrong, I just don’t think they are sharing the entire Easter story.  Today, I want to bring balance to the conversation, and find a new way to rejoice in the Good News that first was proclaimed by the women at the tomb: “He is alive!”

Many, if not most, people might assume that when I say “the resurrection is the greatest act of forgiveness ever known to humanity” that I mean in raising Jesus from the dead God forgave us for all the sins we ever did because, the reasoning goes, these sins were the reason Jesus died in the first place.  There is a great deal of conversation, not to mention popular paraphernalia for purchase, that put forth the perspective that “our sins” are what “nailed Jesus to the cross,” and it was God’s act of intervention that brought Jesus back from death to life.  I will not preach that sermon, because it is proclaimed prolifically and is readily available on the internet, radio, television, in books, and in most church sanctuaries.

There is another understanding of these events, and it is one that I think is not only faithful to scripture, but has had its evangelists, scholars, and believers throughout Christian history.  I believe it was love that led Jesus to the cross and it is love that burst forth from the tomb that first Easter morn.  And this love held no judgment whatsoever; only forgiveness.

Holy Women at the Tomb of Christ, Annibale Carracci, 1585. Web Gallery of Art

Holy Women at the Tomb of Christ, Annibale Carracci, 1585. Web Gallery of Art

Along with most theologians, I do believe that the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was God’s indwelling in creation.  But I think we need to take that incarnation to it’s ultimate conclusion: in the crucifixion and death of Jesus, I understand that God for the very first time became completely and utterly aware of the gravity of the human condition.  Thus the resurrection of Jesus was an act of forgiveness, but it was creation’s act of forgiveness offered to God, who since the time of Adam and Eve had been working under the distant and all-too-often disembodied notion that faith is easy and sin was simple for us, God’s lowly creatures.

Until God-In-Jesus hung on that cross, the Master of all Divinity, the Creator of all Creation, the Unmoved Mover and the Being Beyond All Beings never fully and completely “got it” that this life outside the garden of Eden is so very, terribly hard!!!!  When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that if it be divine will then “take this cup from me,” it was nothing less than God’s very own self staring into the face of the abyss of evil, suffering, and heartache!  In that painful utterance on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” it was God crying out to humanity that for perhaps the first time ever God truly, deeply, fully, and profoundly felt our pain in the way we feel it, and understood why we all too often do very bad things to ourselves and one another!

As many of you know my father died of cancer a few months before I was born.  What you may not know is that as a child I was convinced that my father had not died, but had been taken hostage and was being held captive in a secret room in the center of our house.  I spent most of my childhood and, if I were honest, my young adult years believing my father saw and heard everything I did, especially when I was inside that house.

Wesley Dalton "Spike" Harris, my father

Wesley Dalton “Spike” Harris, my father

When I went into therapy years later and dealt with what this fantasy meant to me, I began to understand how I was essentially regulating my own behavior.  I wanted to always be good for my father, and my mother of course.  But my father knew and saw things that were my secrets, unknown by my mother.  When I was good, I knew my father was proud of me.  When I wasn’t so good, my father was very, very disappointed in me.  To some extent, I believed his future captivity was dependent upon my behavior, and my being a “good boy.”  You can imagine my humiliation when he was never released.

It wasn’t until many years later that I was able to release the incredible well of fear, shame, guilt, and anguish I had built up.  That release came when I realized that yes, in fact, my father did know and see everything I did, but not from a hostage cell in the center of my childhood home, but deep from within the heart of God where he, and my grandmother, and all those who have gone on before us sink into upon their death.  But more importantly, the true release came when I realized the eyes and heart of my father which looked upon me growing up were not eyes of judgment and disappointment, but eyes of love which teared up not because I was bad, but only because life was so very, very hard and because he loved me very, very much.

Writer and theologian bell hooks, in her beautiful essay “Love’s Alchemy” reflecting on love and

bell hooks

bell hooks

perfection, as set forth in John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has no torment.  The one that fears is not made perfect in love.”   She pinpoints what I think is the common default position during Holy Week for most Christians when she writes, “To a grave extent, the transformative power of love is not fully embraced in our society because we have come to believe that torment and anguish are our ‘natural’ condition.’” (1) I think this is why so many of us find an odd fascination with the brutal torture and grisly death of Jesus, and why we feel so comfortable with theologies that rely upon our shame and guilt to justify Jesus’ death and God’s knight-in-shining-armor benevolence to justify the resurrection.

But what if we only looked at these events through the eyes of love?  Trying to fathom why we default to shame and guilt, hooks ponders, “We cannot know love if we remain unable to surrender our attachment to power, if any feeling of vulnerability strikes terror in our hearts.”  (2) I think she is right.  As long as we have to have a God that is fully, completely, unquestionably in power over us, who cannot be moved by the exasperation of the human condition, we cannot entirely know love.  By acknowledging that even God can grow in perfecting love and that the divine can, in fact, be transformed by the incarnation of Jesus Christ, I have let go of the classic understanding of God’s power.  I acknowledge that.  But then bell hooks finds glimpses of hope: “As our cultural awareness of the ways love has been taken from us gains recognition, our anguish intensifies, but so does our yearning.  The space of our lack is also the space of possibility.  As we yearn, we make ourselves ready for the love that is coming to us, as gift, as promise, as earthly paradise.” (3)  It is in this space of yearning that I believe the truth of the resurrection bursts forth, like light from an empty tomb.

heart-of-godWhat if we found a different way of looking at Easter, one that gives life rather than reinforces death?  What if we followed a way that is far more in the great biblical tradition of a God who is not locked in the center of the house judging us but who is out on the journey with us and who ultimately chooses to be on the side of hope, possibility, and love?  If we saw the resurrection of Jesus as the natural culmination of the Adam and Eve story, then we might comprehend that the God who was saddened as the kids matured and went out into the difficult world actually left that lofty, holier-than-thou post on high and became an embodied participant in that world, living and breathing with us, laughing, drinking, loving us… and then who came to know how hard this world really is in the most horrific way – through the betrayal of friends, the unbridled power of an empire, and ultimately through the bloody way we treat one another when fear rules.  But this God would also experience the gentle loving way we work together when grief and love lead us back to the tomb of our dead loved ones prepared for whatever we might find just so we can bathe God’s body in love.

Easter Morning, James B. Janknegt. Contemporary.

Easter Morning, James B. Janknegt. Contemporary.

My beloved, this year let us turn our ears, eyes, and hearts from the gory fascination with theologies of humiliation and punishment and hear the part of the story of Easter which is quiet, but just as real, perhaps even more real.  Let us see in the empty tomb a great release from guilt and a great forgiveness so that once again God and all of us who are God’s creatures can sing the Alleluia of love!

Alleluia!  Jesus Is Alive!  We Are Forgiven!  God Is Forgiven!  Alleluia!

Amen.

(1) bell hooks, “Love’s Alchemy,” in Joyful Noise: The New Testament Revisited, edited by Rick Moody and Darcey Steinke (1997: Little, Brown, and Company), p. 112.

(2) Ibid, p. 113

(3) Ibid.

“Why We Need Each Other: Love Overflowing” ~ September 23, 2012 Sermon

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Sermon For September 23, 2012

“Why We Need Each Other: Love Overflowing”

Philippians 1:3-18

Today is the second of seven sermons as part of our congregation’s journey through 40 Days Of Community

Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Cleveland, Ohio ~ http://www.FranklinCircleChurch.org

Rev. Allen V. Harris, Pastor & Preacher

We apologize there is no podcast again this week because of technical difficulties.

To see a video of this sermon, go to:  http://youtu.be/580G3RSmnnk

To download the digital presentation in PowerPoint format, click HERE:  12092340Days2  (available in Keynote – the original file)

*Why do we need each other?  Why do I need you and why do you need me?  Aren’t we so often like the toddler when a parent tries to help them up the stairs or to use a fork?  We knock the helping hand away and say, “I can do it all by myself!”  Well, as any parent knows, striving for independence may be a goal on one level, but a toddler doesn’t have the skill sets yet, nor the larger wisdom, to do it “all by herself!”

*And then we come to our older years, and as our bodies and minds begin to fail us, we come back in an odd sort of way to our younger years, only now it isn’t our children who are pushing us away, but, rather, we push our children away saying, “Don’t treat me like a child, I can still do it all by myself!”  But we know in our hearts that as time goes by, we won’t be able to do it “all by ourselves” for very long.  Ah, the cycles of life!

*So, the question is, in those intervening years… Is that the time when we really can “do it all by ourselves?”  Can we ever really “do it all by ourselves?”  Or, the question we will be asking these 40 days will be, “Were we ever meant to do it all by ourselves?”  Did God ever intend for us to be so self-sufficient that we would never truly need one another?

*The Apostle Paul writes his letter to the church at Philippi, an early center of Christianity in Greece, while in prison in Rome and awaiting sentencing for his seemingly counter-revolutionary acts of preaching the Gospel of Christ.  In this letter, while Paul is clearly making a specific case regarding how his imprisonment affects the churches which he helped to found and which he feels a great deal of responsibility for, it serves nonetheless as a charter for all of us as to the mutual care and support of one another we should offer in the name of Christ and out of our desire to imitate Christ.

*Paul begins his letter with a generous greeting: “I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you…”  Unlike so many of our conversations where we take the casual greeting “How are you?” as a challenge to tell the person asking every single ache and pain and frustration of life, to the nth degree, Paul, rather, greets his beloved church friends with a word of thanksgiving and joy.  And how powerful it is to have someone say that they thank God every time they remember you?

Don’t you have folks like that who, upon every remembrance of them a smile comes to your face, a lilt comes to your spirit, a gentle warmth flows through your body?  Perhaps it is a beloved teacher from school?  Maybe it’s your first crush or being with your current boyfriend or girlfriend?  Maybe it’s even someone you’ve never met, but who you’ve respected from a distance because of some great cause they championed or inspiring words they spoke or wrote.  In any case, Paul thanks God upon every remembrance of the Philippians and he prays constantly with joy every time for them.

Wow!  What different people we would be if every time we thought of someone we actually said a prayer for them!  “And when I brought the package over to Joanne’s house (Thank you God for Joanne!) I discovered that her neighbor, Carl was there having coffee with her (Thank you God for Carl!)  Joanne (Thank you God for Joanne!) told me about her brother, Grover’s cancer treatments (Thank you God for Grover!).  After I left Joanne and Carl (Thank you God for Joanne and Carl!) I got a text message from my sister, Lynda (Thank you God, for Lynda!)”  You can see that would get mighty tiring, but oh what an amazing impact on your conversation… and your heart that would make!

*The first step to understanding why we need each other is to remember each other and pray for each other!

*And then Paul recognizes the good work the people in Philippi have been doing: “…because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.  I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”  And how often do you meet someone who recognizes the good work you are doing?  We live in a day and an age where there is so much fear of being judged or anxiety about scarcity that we seem to want to put out in front of us the good things that we do, almost so that we can “one up” our friends and those who we meet.  I love people being proud of their accomplishments, don’t get me wrong, but what does it say about a culture when we put our achievements on our sleeves before we acknowledge the other persons good works?

Or, put more positively, what would it mean if we followed Paul’s example and celebrated the good work they are doing in their lives and in the world?  “Greetings, Bailey!  I heard that you are working so hard to find employment.  I wanted to support you in that!”  “Good morning, Juanita!  A little bird told me you’ve been volunteering down at the Adopt-A-Pet shelter, and I wanted to thank you for doing that!”

And notice, Paul gives thanks for the good work that the Philippians are doing… even though it is not yet complete!  If we waited to congratulate people only upon completion of their endeavors, we’ve missed the chance to be part of the support system they – and we – need to do good deeds!

* The second step to understanding why we need each other is to notice what people are doing and support them in their attempts to do good!

*Next, Paul acknowledges this “right way of thinking” by celebrating its mutuality: “It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.”  Need we say much more?  It’s really hard to know which came first, the chicken or the egg.  The same thing is true for shared encouragement.  Do you celebrate me and my accomplishments more because I first celebrated you and your accomplishments?  Or do I celebrate you and your accomplishments more because you first celebrated mine?  I ask: “Does it matter?” It may sound a bit like a mutual admiration society, but so be it!  When we are in community, we celebrate one another!

*The spiritual truth Paul is revealing is that encouragement builds on itself.  Just as negativity, cynicism, and spite can spiral a conversation or community downward into the pit, so can mutual admiration, support, and prayer spiral us upward into the grace of God.

*Moving on, we see Paul move to the point of all of this thanksgiving, prayer, admiration, and mutuality: “For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.  And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, *so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.”

The point of all of this?  Love.  Love born of compassion.  Compassion literally means to “suffer with” or to ache, to grieve, to hurt alongside someone.  In one of the greatest paradoxes of all of life, the giving up of oneself to the suffering of another is the point at which love bursts forth like water from a crumbling dam.  In the emptying of oneself to the agony of another, one becomes filled to overflowing with love.

But I want to take just a moment to point out one very personal reflection that comes from this passage.  *Paul states, “that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight…”  This has perplexed me, because, in my struggles to have compassion for my sisters and my brothers on this earth, in hopes that I might overflow with love, I get stuck on this “knowledge and full insight” thing.  Quite frankly, I don’t understand why people suffer!  I know sometimes people suffer because of their own actions, but even that doesn’t always make sense.  And it never makes sense when people suffer because of circumstances far beyond their control, like natural disasters.  I don’t have anything even close to “knowledge and full insight.”  If compassion, and therefore overflowing love is dependent upon me getting it up here, then it ain’t gonna happen.  No way.  No how. Un uh!

That’s what I thought until the summer that brought the death of both my mother and my brother, Patrick.  My mother died of a heart attack the summer of 1995 after a year long battle with something seemingly insignificant, a terrible outbreak all over her body of psoriasis.  It dogged her for most of twelve months.  So she and her family were frustrated by what seemed, quite literally, a superficial ailment that wrecked so much havoc with her system.  But if that wasn’t enough, when my mother died, we learned quite quickly that she died not just penniless, but in debt, in large part because of her constant attempts at trying to care for my brother who was possessed by the demons of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and hard living.  I couldn’t understand how my mother would literally risk her own health and welfare for a son who simply would not change his deadly behaviors.  And finally, as if to make my confusion utterly horrifyingly complete, my brother died.  We have never known if the drugs in his system were taken to the degree they were accidentally or intentionally, but there he was, this man with whom I had wrestled for love, respect, hope, dignity all of my life to that point was laying in a coffin gone forever to me.

“Knowledge and full insight” as a prerequisite to love overflowing.  Incomprehensible.  And then, as I prepared to officiate at my brother’s graveside service, I remembered a scene in the movie “A River Runs Through It” that has touched me deeply.  Reading from the book of the same title, by Norman McClean, I found the passage that had spoken to me.  It is the words of the preacher father of a similarly wayward son, shared at the son’s funeral.  The father said,

*“Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question, ‘We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed?’  It is true that we can seldom help those who are closest to us.  Either, we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted.  And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us, but we can still love them.  We can love completely without complete understanding.”

Did you hear that?  *“And so it is with those we live with and should know who elude us, but we can still love them.  We can love completely without complete understanding.”

What if Paul, who was certainly speaking from the depths of his relationship with Jesus Christ, compassion and love incarnate, was trying to tell us that we have it all wrong when we try to understand someone first, and then love them?  What if it is the loving that comes first, and then, and only then, will the knowledge and full insight come?  This rings true with everything we read about, hear about, know, and experience in our relationship with Jesus Christ, who most certainly could not have truly comprehended why we do the things we do, why we are the way we are, but loved us just the same.  Actually, not in spite of what we do and who we are, but perhaps even because of what we do and who we are!!!

*The third step to understanding why we need each other is to realize we don’t have to understand each other to love each other!

And it is here that we come to a pivotal point in our understanding of community.  Whether we are talking about the community that is found in partnerships with a beloved, or community that comes in family, or community that is found in our school, our place of employment, or social group; or the community that is found in our neighborhood or our apartment building.  We have the tendency to flip the equation and *typically believe we have to *understand others to *love them, and then *compassion flows from that.  Jesus, through the ministry of Paul to the church at Philippi, reminds us that the *gospel calls us to something much different:  *We must be willing to “suffer alongside” those in our community, have compassion.  Then, and only then, will truly be able to love.  Then *understanding will follow.  And if we love completely, that love will overflow to more and more in our community, and even to other communities.  And, with faith and time, understanding will come.  But by that point, *we usually don’t even see the need to understand them, because we love them so very much.  We love them if they are homeless or in poverty, if they are addicted to drugs or sex or food, if they are apathetic, if they have tattoos or are unmarried, if they are LGBT or identify as Queer, if they are unchurched, wealthy, a Democrat, Republican, or Independent!

*And Paul concludes this by returning to his specific situation: his imprisonment for the sake of the gospel: “I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.”

And while we hope that what happens to us as we love our community more and more is not that we will be thrown into prison, we need to acknowledge that if we truly love out of compassion, it will change the way we live.  Who we associate with, where we hang out, what our money is used for, and the priorities of our time, talent, energy, and resources will be very different.

*The fourth step to understanding why we need each other is that our lives will be reordered around one thing, and one thing only: Love

Finally, to bring his case to a close, Paul addresses the critique and the motives of some of those who argue about his approach to his missionary work and his ministry:  *“Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill.  These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering and my imprisonment.  What does it matter?  Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.  Yes, and I will continue to rejoice…”

*And the spiritual truth Paul is proclaiming here: When we love, motives become inconsequential.  When we love – truly love – and we are intent on spreading that love to more and more people, we worry less and less about the motives of others who are also trying to love more and more people.  Second guessing motives is always a tricky thing!  If love is pouring out abundantly in our community, who am I to say why others need to be doing it out of the same place that I am.  Just love!

*So, if we are going to take these 40 Days Of Community seriously, we need to remember these steps:

*1. We will remember each other and pray for each other.

*2. We will notice what other people are doing and support them in their attempts to do good.

*3. We don’t have to understand each other to love each other.

*4. Our lives will be reordered around love alone.

You know, we really cannot do it all by ourselves, because, quite frankly, we were not created to live life all by ourselves.  Why do we need each other?  Because God designed us that way!  So if we can believe that, then our task is to figure out the best way to live with each other.   *We can do it… TOGETHER!

*And you are invited to participate!  There are still individual books available if you did not get one previously.  This week we begin our daily devotional tomorrow which is Day 1.  If you already started, don’t panic, just begin again so that we will all be on the same page!  (God must have wanted you to learn the first few lessons more fully!)  This week the theme of our devotions will be:  “We’re Compelled To Love God’s Family”

And please join a Small Group.  The listing of groups is in your bulletin and the sign up board is in the chapel.  This week we will look in our small groups at the topic: “What Matters Most” – 1 Corinthians 13 (love chapter), and our Memory Verse John 13:35 “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

There is so much more to say about community, but we will continue the conversation in our personal prayer and devotional life, in our small groups, and each week as we gather together as the community known as Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in worship each Sunday.

Amen.

“The Music Of Wise Living” – Sermon Hymn Sing for August 19, 2012

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Sermon Hymn Sing, August 19, 2012

Ephesians 5:15-20

“The Music Of Wise Living”

This summer’s sermons will explore evangelism through the lens of basic Christian theology.  Today: Joy

Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Cleveland, Ohio ~ http://www.FranklinCircleChurch.org

To hear a Podcast of today’s hymn sing, click HERE:  120819SermonPodcast

To see a Videocast of today’s hymn sing, click HERE:  http://youtu.be/58tJ18NLiag

       (In this order)

#245 – Like The Murmur Of The Dove’s Song

#452 – Here I Am, Lord

#526 – The Gift Of Love

#614 – I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me

#433 – Blest Be The Tie That Binds

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