Date: November 13, 2016
SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 65: 17
GRACE COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, ASHEVILLE, NC
November 13, 2017
, 10:30am Service
The Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, Pastor
When I was a little girl, I had big plans.
I wanted to be President of the United States.
I wanted to make an impact on the questions that mattered
disarmament, economic justice. I wanted to make the world a better place.
At some point, I decided I didn’t want to spend my life
arguing with people and
positioning myself against people. And I really didn’t want to spend my life making
promises that I couldn’t or wouldn’t keep.
If I am going to ask people to trust me, then I want it to be in a context in which I can
keep my prom
When I was installed
a few months ago as your pastor, I promised
to serve this
church with energy
, intelligence, imagination, and love and to be in prayer about
how to do that.
I have been on my knees this week praying for the energy to be prese
nt to each of
you in all your different feelings and perspectives. And God has given me that
energy. It has been an honor to walk alongside those of you who have trusted me to
do so this week.
I have been on my knees praying for the intelligence to parse
how to engage
scripture and experience and context responsibly, truthfully, and yes, prophetically.
This is not the time for me to sugar coat what the Gospel is calling us to be and to do.
I have been on my knees asking God to open up my imagination
so that I can glimpse
a better world, a way for human beings to be together with dignity, with respect,
with tenderness, with room for each and every person to truly be well.
And I have been on my knees asking God to help me share my love for you in wa
that you can feel, in ways that touch you and bring you relief, insight, and courage to
face what is happening around us.
Everything I am about to say to you comes from those prayers
I love you, I love God, and yes, I love this
y, and I love this world.
I am asking you to trust my love for you. And I am asking you to extend love to me. I
will not say everything you want or even need to hear. I can’t promise that some
things I say won’t be difficult for you to hear. Thes
e are difficult times in our
and there is no way to speak the Gospel into these realities and not
trouble our souls
I invite you to take a deep breath
notice what that feels like.
take a minute to
surface where you are feeling
raw and reactive. The things you are bracing yourself
for when you got to church today
the words you really don’t want to he
words you will be mad if
you don’t hear.
Promise me that you will let yourself bring those things into
that if your
you will take a deep breath and
connected. You are loved, fiercely, every single one of you. And we need each other
right now. We need to support each other in all of our variety, in all of our
The lectionary sure did tee us preachers up with so
me challenging words
a providential twist to this post
election Sunday to be sure.
’s vision of the
new heaven and a new earth
that calls us to imagine a world with no more
ng, no more cries of distress, no more tragedies. “The
will neither harm
destroy on my Holy Mountain
ounds so far away from where we are today.
People are crying out
people of all different perspectives and experiences,
people of faith are
called to be present to these lamentations. Whether you see
things differently than those lamenting, or you are lamenting and feel
misunderstood or dismissed, we are called to be present in this painful moment.
not our place to say whether protests o
r pain is valid
it is our place to listen, to be
present, and to be honest about where each of us is in the midst of it all.
People of faith should feel a magnetic pull to
the world’s pain, not to the
And we do that with Isaiah’s
ion in mind, with this mysterious and potent
aspiration that God will make a way for even natural enemies to co
The peaceable kingdom is not within our reach
The peaceable kingdom is not
ours to achieve. God is making the way where we see
no way. God is at work
creating the conditions for something new to come into its own.
No politician makes that happen, no government program makes that happen, no
election makes that happen. The church’s moral compass is not
influence. God is our true north
Jesus is the magnetic pull that shapes
our aspirations, our perseverance,
courage to believe in a better world.