September 3, 2017 / OUR PEOPLE, OUR STORY / Sara Wolbrecht / Philippians 1
So, what’s your story? Friends, I am so excited, because today is the day that we get to actually ask the question that our sermon series video on Love Story has been asking us all summer. Today, I ask you, “What’s your story?” In a few minutes we are opening up the mic to you to share stories, but to get there, first let’s name a few things, then set us up for how to do this.
Friends, as we said earlier, it has been a week. A week for our country, our world. I spent the week in Missoula (visiting Jason’s family and hoping to sneak in one last visit to the family cabin on Seeley Lake before it is sold), but Seeley Lake was evacuated because of fires, and even the air in Missoula – nearby fires made it unhealthy to be outside, and the smoke was so thick you couldn’t see the surrounding mountains most of the time.
All while watching floodwaters rise in Houston, and lives being displaced, homes destroyed, people dying. I hope we are all looking for ways to give of our prayers our money and resources towards the devastation in Houston. Because relief is needed. As our 7yo pointed out as we were in Missoula: “I wish the floods would be here in the fires!” – yes, June, that would be quite the solution.
And did you hear about the Nashville Statement, this week? Tuesday the “Nashville Statement” was released by a coalition of over 150 evangelical Christian leaders. The document not only doubles down on the belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman but also asserts that God created two distinct sexes, that sex outside of heterosexual marriage is sinful and that LGBTQ-affirming people can’t call themselves Christians. Yeah, it’s been a week.
If you’ve been following this, and just so we’re clear: I passionately disagree with the Nashville Statement, and Salt House is a community that passionately disagrees with the Nashville Statement, as we believe in the inherent blessedness and divine-image-bearing of all our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, we believe there is a deeper picture in scripture to sexual identity and behavior than is being pushed in the statement.
Then even in our own church community – one family faced surgery for their child, a couple took the first step in IVF treatments, a few of us are headed into new jobs and new school programs – and the summer is winding down for us all. So much transition.
I want to name that this was a week. And so if you, like me, are feeling sad, angry, weary – hold all of it today. As we enter into the sacred yet ordinary work of storytelling, we are not leaving behind what we’re feeling, how we’re doing, but intentionally bringing all the things into the time we share, knowing that God wants to meet us, be with us in the fullness of US – not the shiny happy version of us. Ok?
And so – here’s what’s awesome about the fact that THIS is what we planned to do even before this week became A WEEK. It is in response to a week like this that we as Jesus-following people, what do we do? We rally. We tell stories of love, of what God is doing in us and our world – this is one small but powerful way to rally against the darkness of a week like this.
So let’s get to it. Let me offer some context and logistics. We’ve been talking about how our stories, we are formed by the people who are our people. As we wind down our summer series on Love Story – today’s stories are our chance to celebrate that.
So here is how we’re framing our stories today:
Who has/had a significant role in your life?
What are the signs of God's presence in your story?
Last week, Jenny and Sean Boyer, kicked this off by sharing their beautiful, broken journey of fostering and adopting two of their sons. We named how stories of deep love and sacrifice are the kinds of stories we love to witness, and try to live.
Here are a few guidelines:
· Aim for 2-3 minutes – this may become flexible depending on how many folks share, etc. You can share about a moment, a conversation, a challenge…
· It doesn't have to be a 'finished' story or reflection. We're all in progress.
· You don't have to be articulate. Or funny.
· It doesn't have to seem extraordinary.
· If we run out of time, and folks really want to keep sharing, we can keep going next week if needed.
· Our Facebook Live Stream is on. – we stream our sermons live on Facebook every week, including today, in order to help folks remain connected to our community, even when they can’t be here. Which means folks can watch now, and it stays on Facebook FOREVER, too. For folks watching live or later: feel free to name your stories in the comments section. And for folks here, this could be a chance to speak about or even to someone, and then you can share the video later. Or even address someone here.
Let’s get at it, please breathe and pray with me….
God thank you that Jesus teaches us to love story, and for this chance to open ourselves up, vulnerably, to first even just begin reflecting on our own stories looking for signs of what you are doing. And then: to speak of it. We name this as both ordinary and sacred work. And we do open ourselves to hear you in the stirrings of our hearts, in the words that we share, in the stories we hear, as we listen for how the extraordinary story of God is unfolding in our ordinary stories of love. In this week, we rally. Amen.
Let’s close our time offering a passage of Philippians 1 as a way to close our time. Paul pens these words to his friends in the city of Philippi. And as we read these words together, let’s hear them as words we pray for the folks we have been thinking of in our stories – word so thanks and hope. And also as words of prayer we speak to ourselves, the kind of words God speaks over us. That all speaks of the kind of story – the Jesus story – we are living, together.
Dani will lead us through it – let’s read and pray, together.
Philippians 1:3-5, 9-11 (The Message)
Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart.
So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well.
Learn to love appropriately.
You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush.
Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.