October 16, 2016 / BULLHORN / Sara Wolbrecht / John 10:6-10
There’s an old Christian camp song that goes: And they’ll know we are Christians by our ____________. What is it? By our love. And yes, that is really what we’re tapping into this fall at Salt House – that there is something prime and central in the radical act of loving our neighbor that pours out of the life of Jesus. And that love is this defining characteristic of what marks someone who follows Jesus. It is loooooove.
And yet I wonder, what y’all have to say about this question: What else are Christians known for? What perceptions are out there about Christians? What do folks you know, or what’s coming across in the headlines in the midst of this political season – tell me about Christians? What words or phrases describe Christians? Shout it out…
And yet. The words we read earlier – words that Jesus says about giving us access to a full, abundant life. And as we read about the life of Jesus – where is the disconnect between these words of Jesus, and the perception so many hold of what Jesus’ people are really like? Do you see and experience this disconnect?
So for us to talk this fall about Becoming We, we need to be honest and direct about how there is a public landscape that we as Christians move around in as we consider loving our neighbor as Jesus loves us.
To explore, this morning, this cultural landscape we live in – where certain perceptions are held about Christians, we’ll turn to a video. It is called Bullhorn, another video from a series we have seen where Rob Bell takes about ten minutes to explore a few ideas – ideas, that we’ve begun already to explore today – about how Christians are known, about the abundant life of Jesus – I invite us to settle in, and pay attention for what stirs us as we engage.
VIDEO: Nooma, Bullhorn, Rob Bell
Have you ever – in real life, on the street – experienced a bullhorn guy? I have. In San Francisco, in Union Square where it’s packed with people.
What I love about this video is that I find myself totally with Rob – “yeah, you bullhorn guy!” Feeling like Bullhorn Guy misses the point of the biggest most beautiful message of all time. And then I am totally nailed when Rob flips it on us, right? That moment when Rob says, well, what are you doing to change the perception? Ugh! Yes. Good question. Because as we’ve already said, the perception most people have of Christianity is that it’s lame – or even exclusive, (all the other things we named earlier).
And yes, we are also compelled to ask – how did this message of Jesus, of a beautiful life of hope, peace, justice, radical inclusion – where does this message get lost, and how did so few end up speaking for so many?
Four weeks ago we began this series in Becoming We by asking: What does our love look like? And when we ask that question, I find myself thinking about a very close circle, I begin thinking about the ways I love my family and friends, those close to me. But there is a wider circle for us to consider as we think about what it means to love others, love our neighbor in our cultural context.
There is absolutely a public, loud, noisy, lived-out nature to the kind of love Jesus calls us to live. And this is the thing we’re naming today. Here is what we ask ourselves: How does our life speak of the abundant life of Jesus? What noise is our life making?
Because here’s the thing. We’ve all got a bullhorn. Not literally, or course. But we are all making noise with our lives, with the words we choose, with where we spend our money, with how we volunteer our time, with what we post on social media, with how we relate to others in every way. We’re all saying something – and we have the potential to say things that not only affect our family and friends, but that also are loud and far-reaching. And in so doing: to say and embody things that speak of the beautiful life of Jesus. Things that can change the perception of what it means to follow Jesus. Things that speak of the ways in which we have known the abundant, full kind of life that is possible. Real, full, life that is eternal in the sense that there is depth and purpose and impact and joy that will live beyond us. But very much a life that is lived and embodied here and now.
In your bulletin, on the back of the insert you have a picture of a bullhorn. Now, I am not suggesting that we should be people who actually use bullhorns – though I think my 6yo would loooove that. This bullhorn is here for us to write on and dream and engage with. I invite you to consider two things: what noise is your life making – to celebrate the ways in which we in big and small ways make bold noise about the abundant life of Jesus. Celebrate and name those things.
And then second, to also take time to dream and wonder and be curious about what ways we might make noise with our life in such a way that can embody the love of Jesus. Something new, fresh. What could love look like in a fresh way?
Some examples.. I think of someone from our community who shared with me last week that she recently had a performance review at work, and she said she was surprised. She said the feedback from her coworkers is that she is such a kind and considerate and warm presence in the office. And she said, “That is how I try to be I try to be. To embody the love of Jesus.” What I think is so beautiful is to hear was how she was actually surprised that it’s working. That that is exactly what people see. That is some good noise she is making with her life, yes?
I think of Dani in our community. Do you remember back in June we did a sermon series on Generous Lives, about being generous with the resources we’ve been given. One of those Sundays, we talked about how what we have is not actually ours – and if we see our money, our gifts, our time that way, as belonging to God, we are far more willing to give it away for the sake of others. That day I gave away $50 bills to be used to blessing others. Two folks then actually held money in their hands that isn’t theirs – to try that kind generosity. Dani was one of those folks – do you know what Dani did? Dani, went on a mission to share light and positivity. And in true form to who she is, got crafty and creative with it, and made these (Pics of salt and light). Beautiful containers of salt, and she mailed and hand delivered them with a note saying – hey! You are thought of and loved and we are in this with you and keep this salt on your desk or close by to remember the salt and light and love that is with you. She has a few more if you know someone who needs that kind of love – let her know today. Now that’s some good noise, yes?
I think of our parent congregation, Holy Spirit Lutheran, is housing and sponsoring a refugee family – and mother and her 11yo son. They are living in the home of someone from Holy Spirit, so many others are supporting them to make life happen for them. Now that’s some good noise.
These are just a few examples. What noise is your life making to embody the love of God? In a choice that you make in how you parent. In the way you are with your team at work. In how you gather with a group of friends. In the way in which you volunteer your time. In how you use social media. In the way you are in with your next door neighbor. In the way you are helping someone out who is going through a hard time.
Friends, God gives us the capacity and opportunity to be people who spread the word and embody the love of the greatest message of all time – a message of peace, joy, love, hope, relationship, sacrifice. How are you and how will you live that message, that story this week? Let me pray for us as we take some time to listen, to pray, to write, to sing. After this song, we’ll move into a time of sung and spoken prayer…
God, thank you that we are a part of your story. A story that Jesus reveals for us – showing us in how he lived what it means to love our neighbor, what it means to live a full, abundant life. With such gratitude, we sit in that reality now. And we listen and pay attention to our lives, asking how we might step more fully into this life, to live in embodied, beautiful, noisy ways that speak of the love we know in you…