CALLED TO BE THE HEART OF GOD IN THE COMMUNITY

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What Time Zone Are You Living In?

Pastor Alisa Lasater Wailoo, August 20, 2017
Part of the Walking With Women in Scripture series, preached at a Sunday Morning service
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In this sermon, we will learn from yet 2 more radical women in Scripture. We’re actually spending this month studying women in the Bible, because listening to the minority voice gives us a deeper and different understanding of God and ourselves. But Lord knows I had no idea all that would happen this month when I chose this topic.

Honestly, I’ve struggled for the best words to share with you about Charlottesville and the weeks and years that have led up to such a display of hatred and violence. There is no doubt how our God feels about white supremacy and any heresy that claims one "type" of human is superior, above, or should dominate over another. God abhors it. But, I believe, there remains within us deep doubts about “if and how” we might excise this sin from within us and our communities.

Thankfully, we serve a God who tells the truth about sin and shows the way to transformation no matter how hard the truth is to swallow and how challenging the path may seem. And God does not ask us to do any of this alone. I love how Rev. Maria Swearingen sums it: as Christians we are “a people who have chosen to shape their lives around the liberating story of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And this gospel tells about an early community of people, some Greek, some Jew, some male, some female, some free, some slave, who began to break bread together, and in the mystical breaking of that bread, discovered their truest, deepest selves. And in discovering their truest, deepest selves, they also discovered how deep the lies that originally defined them were. That “slaveowner” and “slave,” that “Roman citizen” and “immigrant” had so warped their self-understanding that they’d lost their deepest humanity. And the gospel of Jesus meant to help them find it again, together.”

So, come to this sermon where together, we will explore two stories where women were defined, confined, and at risk because of their ethnicity: Esther the Jew in a Persian Palace and the Unnamed Canaanite Mother who approaches her ethnic enemy, the Jewish rabbi named Jesus. I encourage you to read over the Scriptures and, as you read the stories, ask yourself who / which characters have power and what kind of power do they have?

As prep, I also want to recommend a sermon by Dr. Brenda Slater McNeil on the Book of Esther. In it, she strips away every shiny gloss we put on the passage and dives deep into the denigration, injustice, and dangers the women (from Vashti to Esther) face but also unearths their power. Here’s a link – it’s totally worth the hour!

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Esther 4:10-17

10 Then Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to go to Mordecai and say, 11 “All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.”

12 And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. 13 Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” 15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” 17 Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him. (ESV)

Matthew 15:21-28

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (ESV)

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