Sermon preached July 28, 2019

2019 July 28 Order of Worship

Audio Content:

:00 – 1:14 Seek Ye First Congregational Hymn
1:14- 1:37 Psalm 85:10-13
1:37- 2:25 Qur’an Surah 93
2:26- 7:36 Adagio and Vivace from Sonata for Flute C.P.E. Bach
7:37- 9:31 Luke 11:1-13
9:31-25:50 Sermon, “One Egg Please, Hold the Scorpion”
25:51-27:35 Ubi Caritas Congregation
27:36-34:59 Guided Meditation and Prayer
34:59-37:16 Selection from Tango Etudes for Flute by Astor Piazzolla

Music:

Adagio and Vivace from Sonata for Flute C.P.E. Bach
Ross Miller and Matt Thompson-Aue

Selection from Tango Etudes for Flute by Astor Piazzolla Ross Miller and Matt Thompson-Aue

It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.
–Wendell Berry

For Courage, John O’Donohue
When the light around you lessens
And your thoughts darken until
Your body feels fear turn
Cold as a stone inside

When you find yourself bereft
Of any belief in yourself
And all you unknowingly
Leaned on has fallen

When one voice commands
Your whole heart,
And it is raven dark,

Steady yourself and see
That it is your own thinking
That darkens your world

Search and you will find
A diamond-thought of light,

Know that you are not alone
And that this darkness has purpose
Gradually it will school your eyes
To find the one gift your life requires
Hidden within this night-corner.

Invoke the learning
Of every suffering
You have suffered.

Close your eyes
Gather all the kindling
About your heart
To create one spark.
That is all you need
To nourish the flame
That will cleanse the dark
Of its weight of festered fear.

A new confidence will come alive
To urge you towards higher ground
Where your imagination
Will learn to engage difficulty
As its most rewarding threshold!

Psalm 85:10-13
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
Justice and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
And justice will look down from the sky.

The Lord will give what is good,
And our land will yield its increase.
Justice will go before them,
And will make a path for their steps.

Daylight (ad-Duha) Surah 93 Qur’an
In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful

By the bright morning light,
By the light when it darkens:
Your Lord (O Muhammad) has not forsaken you,
nor has the Lord been displeased with you!
Verily the end is better for you than the beginning,
And soon your Lord will grant you till you are well-pleased.
Did God not find you an orphan and sheltered you?
And God found you in loss and guided you?
And God found you in need and made you independent?
So do not oppress the orphan,
And as to the beggar, do not chide him:
And as to the bounties of your Lord, announce them to others.

Guidance, Joyce Rupp
Trusted Guide,
you are my Mentor, my Inspiration,
my Home of good choices and decisions.
You help me to search with confidence
as I find my way to inner peace.

Please gather your wisdom around me.
Guide me carefully as I make choices
about how to use my energy positively.
Place your discerning touch on my mind
so that I will think clearly.
Place your loving fingers on my heart
so I will be more fully attentive
to what is really of value.

Teach me how to hear your voice,
to be aware of what is in my mind and heart,
to attend to your wisdom in those around me,
to acknowledge my intuitions and ponder my dreams,
to listen to the earth and all of life,
for in each piece of my existence you are guiding me.

Guide of my life,
thank you for all you have given to me.
Reveal my spiritual path
and direct me in the living of it.
Lead me to inner peace and oneness with you.

Luke 11:1-13
He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ 2He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.’

5 And he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.” 7And he answers from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” 8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

9 ‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’

One Egg Please, Hold the Scorpion

The premise of the movie, The Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves as Neo, is that the world as we see it is a computer program. None of what we see is real. It is all virtual reality. The reality is that each of us is plugged into a matrix and our bodies are fuel. Alien beings have imprisoned us and have created this artificial world that we think we are living in. The reality is that we are living in these pods with wires stuck into our bodies, generating electricity for the matrix.

However, there are forces at work that seek to liberate humanity. There are some who have been able to see through this matrix to the real situation. They wish to awaken those who are ready and ultimately, with this army of awakened people, free humanity. The film begins with Neo on his computer in this artificial world. He gets a message to follow the white rabbit.

Neo sees a little bit of what is happening. He sees that life, what we touch, what we see is a fake artificial intelligence computer program. In reality we are naked bodies plugged into this honeycomb producing electricity and whatever else for the alien forces who have imprisoned us.

When Neo learns this, he is given an option. Does he have what it takes to see more of the truth and to give his life to saving humanity? He is given the option of taking a red pill or a blue pill. If he takes the red pill he will learn what the world is really like, the truth. It is not pleasant. But it is true. By taking the red pill he can participate in saving humanity even as it looks like a long shot. Or he can take the blue pill. If he takes the blue pill, he will forget everything he has seen and go back to living in virtual reality. If he takes the blue pill, everything goes back to the way it was for him and is for almost all the billions of people on Earth, an artificial existence, a computer program that deceives us into thinking what we experience is real.

Of course, Neo is a hero and he takes the red pill.

The Matrix. I recommend it. It has become a film that is a parable for those who are searching for what is real and what is true about how the world works, who runs it, and the institutions and deceptions behind it.

Take sausage for example. You have sausage and eggs for breakfast. Sausage tastes good. It triggers our taste receptors, provides instant energy, and so forth. But do you want to know how sausage is made? Watch it being made? Not quite so appetizing.

Or how about all of our meat? Growing up on the farm in Whitehall, Montana, we raised a few cows for our own food. It isn’t like that anymore. “Farm fresh” isn’t a bucolic scene in Montana. “Farm Fresh” on meat packages is a fake reality. Meat comes from factories in which animals are stuffed in pens with no room to move, not unlike humans plugged into the matrix in the film. It is difficult to “unsee” that. And seeing that does not help sales of meat. So we don’t see that. Advertising does not show us where food comes from. Take a blue pill. Enjoy your sausage. Don’t think about it.

Where does electricity come from? In Appalachia, it comes from blowing off the tops of mountains down to the coal seams. It is called mountain top removal strip mining. From down below, you cannot see it. You have to fly over it to see the devastation this mining process has on the forests, the water supply and on the people who live there. Take a blue pill. Turn on the switch. Enjoy your electric toothbrush.

We could go through many examples. You will have them of ways we are comforted and not told the truth about what is going on behind the scenes in order to keep our programmed reality functioning.

It happens in religion. When I went to seminary, thankfully, we were offered red pills or blue pills. We could take the red pill and really learn and teach the history of our biblical texts and beliefs. Or we could take the blue pill and not question the doctrines, creeds, and beliefs.

The question arises. Why? Why would anyone ever take the red pill? The blue pill is so much easier. Those who take the red pill and offer it to others catch a lot of grief. Jesus, for example. He definitely took the red pill and showed others the reality behind the illusion. So they killed him. Worse than that, they made a religion out of him to serve the interests of an illusion.

Most of the time, in fact, nearly all the time, those who have taken the red pill and who have in turn offered it to others, are not popular. They usually just make people angry. You know this, right, when you discover something that is real as opposed to the artificial program that covers it. For every one person who awakens and takes the red pill, another fifty are ticked off that you are messing with their world.

Southminster is filled with red pill takers. You know what I am talking about.

In fact, this whole seeking the truth, knocking on the door, asking the hard questions, seek, knock, ask, can be lonely work. One can begin to wonder if it is worth it. How can we trust that we will discover what is true anyway?

Perhaps this is what is behind this collection of anecdotes in today’s reading from the gospel of Luke.

Jesus is asked how to pray. He offers a very simple yet profound prayer that acknowledges the real Reality, the source of all that is, hallowed be the name. The prayer recognizes that there is something wrong in the world, that the kingdom of the Source is not realized. Another kingdom has taken over our minds and hearts. The prayer for God’s kingdom to come is a prayer to set the moral compass. This is the goal, the direction, for what is true and good to manifest itself among all of existence.

OK, so what do I need to do to make that happen? What is my role in this? What needs to happen to me? What changes do I need to make within so that I can participate in this coming kingdom?

Well you need to eat your bread each day. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, one of the temptations was about bread. Turn this stone into bread, said the Tempter. Jesus said that the human being doesn’t live by bread alone but by every word that comes from God.

Bread may be bread, but it also may be the divine Word. Give us each day our daily bread is a prayer to keep us connected to the Divine Source who communicates with us. Keep our connection open to God. It is a prayer for a mind that is open, for a heart ready to receive. Every day, teach us what is real. It is not as if God is going to withhold bread, but we have to ask for it. Give us the guidance we need for today. Give us the inspiration we need for today. Give us whatever it is. But you see, we have to ask for it, otherwise we forget it. We forget to seek connection to the Source.

Taking the red pill is not easy. You can’t do it alone. You need a spiritual connection. So the prayer so far….

Acknowledge the Source.
Acknowledge the task, the kingdom to come.
Acknowledge our need to be connected daily to the Source and to our task.

Then, forgive us as we forgive.

Did I mention that the taking the red pill is hard work?

Sin is defined as “missing the mark.” You shoot an arrow at a target and miss. It is not about all kinds of shame and guilt, it is simply missing. You have a moral compass. But you don’t always follow it. So, you are human. Humans make mistakes. Do you want people to lighten up on you when you miss the mark, or do you want them to shame you and guilt you and make you feel like crap forever. No? Then don’t do it to others. Lighten up on them, too. As we do it, we receive it.

Evil, and Jesus is never afraid of using that word, is deception. Evil is the fake reality that is slowly suffocating us and destroying our planet. It is powerful. It is cunning. It is ever present. Take it seriously. We are fighting evil not one another. So don’t take our frustrations out on each other. Practice forgiveness because we are all on the same side.

Acknowledge the Source.
Acknowledge the task, the kingdom to come.
Acknowledge our need to be connected to the Source daily and our task daily.
Acknowledge that we will fail and so will others, so we must forgive to keep going.

Then Jesus says, “Do not bring us to the time of trial.”

Let not evil own us. May we not for the sake of comfort, lose our direction. Of course, Jesus was led to his own time of trial, in the wilderness, on the cross. May you not have to have that happen to you. Pray that it doesn’t. But not said in the prayer, but elsewhere by Jesus, it might.

Acknowledge the Source.
Acknowledge the task, the kingdom to come.
Acknowledge our need to be connected to the Source daily and our task daily.
Acknowledge that we will fail and so will others, so we must forgive to keep going.
Acknowledge that we might avoid difficult tests, but we might not.

Then Jesus tells them about persistence. When it looks like the Source, God, is not answering, when it looks lonely, when the path looks rocky, don’t lose hope. Persistence pays off. Even a sleepy friend at midnight will awaken. So much more so will the true source that is reality. Be persistent. Don’t lose hope.

Then Jesus offers the appeal to seek, knock, and ask and trust that we will find what we seek, receive what we ask, and that the door will be opened when we knock. Again, keep searching for what is true and good. If you take on this quest, you will be rewarded.

Even people who are evil, even those so helplessly trapped in the matrix that they can’t see anything but illusion, know how to give good gifts to their children, eggs instead of scorpions, fish instead of snakes. Trust the Source, the Real, God, to give you what you need in order to keep on the quest for what is true, for what is real and for what will liberate yourself and the world.

What will the world be like when my granddaughter is my age?
What am I doing about it now?

Humanity is slowly awakening.
I know this because the forces of illusion and deception are so desperate they are resorting to censorship.
They won’t win.

Truth will win.

Believe it.

Amen.