Mark 14:43-52 Rev. Tyler Amundson February 17, 2012
Before we begin this sermon I would like to invite us into a moment of prayer, please join me.
Thank you for the gift of fun, for sleepless nights, and new life. As we embark on this journey through lent and walk toward the light of Easter. May we be reminded that we celebrate a God that walks with us. A God that experiences our pains and joys with us. As we walk with you may we feel your presence and be reminded of the love you have shared with us. May we share this love with the world.
Today is the first Sunday of Lent. Lent is the 40 day season between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Now in the early Christian church this was the season the new Christians would prepare for their baptism. They would spend these 40 days learning the ways of Christianity, participating in its ritual and then on the Easter they would be baptized Christians, usually wearing a linen white robe. Throughout Christian history it has also become a time when we prepare to renew those vows and our commitments to the church.
Marianne used 3 words to describe the season and as we did the sharing of ashes on Ash Wednesday, last week: Repent, Resolve and Renew. These words are great ways to describe this season for us as modern day Christians. Many times this season is described in modern terms as a time to give something up, and so like New Years resolutions, many of us feverishly try and let some bad habit go.
In seminary, I remember people feverishly trying to give up Facebook for Lent or at least a break from it. I remember it honestly being another burden in their lives as they missed communication from their friends, and most gave it up for 3 or 4 days at most. The point is all this work to just suddenly drop something from our lives doesn’t get to the point of lent. For myself it feels like one of those feverish attempts that our consumer driven culture shares with us in commercials. In fact Lent may be the next season to be use by advertisers. I can see it now. “Giving up cookies for lent? We have a non-cookie substitute. It tastes and looks like a cookie, but we have changed the name so you don’t have to feel guilty” “Is your Lenten resolution to give up shopping? Don’t worry we have a way to support you. Buy our book on how to give up shopping for lent.”
You know simply giving up something for Lent doesn’t really seem to mean much to spiritual Christian people. However, I think these 3 words can.
Repent, Resolve and Renew.
They fit the old meaning of Lent, the preparing for our Baptism so well. It was a time of experiencing Christ, of learning to be vulnerable with God, and renewing our connection our awareness of the gifts of God.
This weekend I have been sharing with the youth the idea of being vulnerable. About a year ago now Crystal called me in to check out this YouTube video. She says Tyler you have to see this; it will seriously change how you think. Now my wife Crystal is intelligent and she has most definitely helped me think about things differently, but I am thinking 3 years of seminary just did that. There is no way this one video will change how I think. I have a confession: I was wrong. It still is changing how I think and work.
The video was by Brenee Brown, a speaker at a TED conference. If you haven’t heard about these conferences you need to check some of their videos out. These conferences are where some of the most innovative ideas about how to better our world are coming from. They happen all over the world and they are phenomenal to watch. Just go to Ted.com, there tag line is ideas worth spreading.
Brenee Brown the speaker, was sharing about vulnerability from a social work research perspective. Her ultimate point is that her research has pointed to the reality that being vulnerable with one another is how we literally gain our sense of connection with each other. Connection she recognizes as a fundamental need for human wellbeing. This is an idea that has spanned religion and human understanding for ages, and Christianity is no exception. Christianity has called for community throughout its existence a need to share connection with one another.
Brenee Brown’s research into vulnerability finds that our ability to be vulnerable is a direct correlation between our ability to feel whole, to live wholehearted lives. People that are not allowed to be vulnerable feel less satisfied life and ultimately do not feel connection with others. To feel that we belong and are a part of life, we literally have to share vulnerability with other people.
Now Brenee Brown is sure to point out one thing. Vulnerability is not weekness. It is courage. Vulnerability takes incredible courage to overcome the risks involved with sharing our stories, our pain and joy, with others. It takes courage to create connection with one another, but by doing so we create the possibility for great connection.
Brenee Brown’s final and remarkable point on this, is that the biggest obstacle to vulnerability is shame. Instead of me explaining this I am going to share a video of Brenee Brown talking about shame. She is speaking to one of the TED conferences I was talking about.
Did you know there was a streaker in the Bible?
(Look at notes again)
That’s what my sermon says.
This is where our theme of Convo is coming true Bare Faith. See this scripture I picked today is full of shame and the author of Mark illustrates it.
Here is the scripture and some context from the story of Mark.
Jesus has just spent time praying to God desperately trying to escape the world coming down on him violently. He has been vulnerable with God, saying I don’t want to die. Then Judas arrives with these guards.
The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
43 Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. 44Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.’ 45So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed him. 46Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. 47But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 48Then Jesus said to them, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? 49Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.’ 50All of them deserted him and fled.
51 A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, 52but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.
What is up with the streaker and what does this have to do with shame?
On Friday I share with the youth of Convo that nakedness, being bare, is vulnerable. The author of the gospel of Mark I think understood this very clearly. The individual running away is ashamed of the acts that just occurred and does not feel worthy to be a disciple of Christ.
That is what the rest of the gospel is for. The resurrection of Christ is proving Brenee Brown’s point. If we can wade into our shame, into that “swamp of shame” we will find the truth of the resurrected Christ, the living Christ. The truth that we are beautifully formed beings of God and we are fully worth being here and sharing whom we are.
This streaker demonstrates the fear we have that we are not worthy, but we are. The image of the person running away naked is rooted in Lent. The linen cloth that falls of the person to make them naked is linen, which was the garment worn by those being baptized. Lent is part of baptismal walk, our walk of repenting, resolving, and renewing. As Christian people we are taking this walk right now in the season of Lent.
Repenting is recognizing our own shame.
Resolving is finding ways to affirm our self worth.
Renewing is trusting and know that, in the words of one our own young adults, Kristen Cates, “God don’t make no junk.” We are renewed when we know we are created in the image of God.
Bare Faith is about finding our shame, being vulnerable to each other and God, and reconnecting. Connection is something we are all called to create and find in our lives. We deserve belonging and I am here to say you belong.
Here is a moment I am going to share with this congregation a moment of shame I have had. Preaching has been hard for me, though it may not seem like it, I have been struggling with it. The overwhelming question that goes through my head is, “What right do I have to speak in front of you?” This congregation at St. Paul’s has been so supportive of helping me grow in my preaching. I am sharing this shame with you all because you have helped me to repent, renew and resolve this shame. By doing this I have been baptized in your love and allowed to speak the love of God in powerful ways in our community and the larger world. It is a joy to serve here.
I invite us to be vulnerable and
Repent, Resolve and Renew this lenten season and all the days of our lives. Bare Faith is about being vulnerable, so we can be connected and connect the world to God’s love.