[I'm creating a character for a new game, John North, a Methodist Minister - someone quite removed from my own personality and experience. I thought it might be interesting to write his weekly sermon before each game. A little dramatic irony, a little character exploration, a little I really need to post stuff here more often. This isn't going to be as long as a 'real' sermon, think more of one that you would see on television to establish the episode's themes.]
I am very happy to see you all here today. I know that’s something I say up here every Sunday, but it’s true. There are a million other places you could be in this world and in your own heads, and yet…here you are. Sitting in this church, together – choosing to hear the Word of God. I know I greet you every Sunday almost by rote – but it’s easy to get in the habit of being polite and not remember what you are really saying. It is a good morning. And I am very happy to see you all here today.
I’ve been thinking about habits a lot lately. Good habits, bad habits – things we do all the time and never even stop to think ‘Why?’. Why am I doing this thing? Every time I drink a cup of coffee, I put in too much sugar and cream, then I stir it up and …then I tap the spoon on the rim exactly three times. I’m sure many of you have seen me do it. It even has the same rhythm each time! A little caffeine jingle that Pastor John does, every time. I don’t know why I do it. I don’t know how long I’ve done it. I don’t know what strange occurrence in my life or in my head made me start doing those three little taps with the spoon.
And now you’re all thinking – ‘why is Mr. North going on and on about his coffee?’. That’s fair. I bring it up, partly because I like coffee a lot, but mostly because it’s a habit. Something that I do and never think about.
Something that I do and never think about.
Now there’s something that I think we all do and never think about. Hate.
Not the grand sin of Hate or Rage that Jesus warned us against – that fills our head and our hearts and we know we are doing it. It’s a hard battle sometime to remember to Love and Forgive as He taught us, but at least we know we’re in the fight. All of us have that struggle. We win some, we lose some, but as long as we strive with Christ at our side, as long as we choose the better path, then we are truly blessed.
But sometimes we don’t know we’re in the fight. Sometimes we miss the struggle. Sometimes its just a habit. And now I’m talking about the sin of Judgement.
It’s a very easy habit, a very easy darkness to let in your heart – especially now when we all have our screens and our quiet. You look at your phone or your computer and you see someone and you think ‘They are foolish.’ ‘They are ignorant.’ ‘I can’t believe they did that.’ ‘I can’t believe they said that.’ ‘I live my life so much better than they do.’
An easy sin. The sin of Pride – for only when we prize ourselves so highly would we dare to judge another soul. Let us read the Word, Galatians 6:3 – 6:5
For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.
This is from one of Paul’s letters. He was quite the busybody, old Paul. The first Blogger if you like – always writing letters to the different communities of early Christians. The fifth verse is especially fine – ‘every man prove his own work’ – which is a perfect way of saying ‘mind your own business’.But the third and sixth are what stick with me this morning.
We are nothing compared to God. Compared to the endless love of Jesus, how could we ever hold ourselves up above our fellows? We are all nothing and it is important to remember that.
And then the sixth verse: For every man shall bear his own burden.
It hits me in the chest every time. When we judge our brothers and sisters, not only do we commit the sin of Pride – but we also forget this simple truth. Everyone must bear their own burden. And none of us can truly know what the others carry. How heavy, how sharp the edges of their life. God so loved the world that he sent his only Son to teach us and die for us, only He truly knows our burdens and is fit to judge us. Only He can lift them from us when our time comes.
The rest of us should remember – and seek to ease the burdens of all we meet. Just as we can say ‘Good morning’ a thousand times, but never truly hear ourselves say it – just as I tap the spoon on my coffee cup – so must we become aware of our habits, our darker habits. Really think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Get in the fight and don’t just blindly repeat the same tepid little evils over and over and over.
It’s going to be hard, but you can do it. I believe in you and all of us that chose to be here today believe in you — and most important God and his son, Jesus Christ are at your side.
Let us pray. I know it’s not as popular, but I’d like to use the Wesley Covenant today.
Thank you all – and now Mrs. Vonda will lead us in our next hymn.
[Any feedback on this post is much appreciated. I'm not trying to mock or parody anyone's faith - please let me know if I used the wrong term or otherwise said something a Methodist minister would never say.]