June 7, 2015, “Out of Our Mind” – Rev. Stacy Swain

“Out of our Mind”

June 7, 2015

1 Samuel 8:4-11 (12-15) 16-20, 11:14-15 and Mark 3:20-35

“Are you out of your mind? How can you think about switching careers at your age? Don’t you know you may never be able to find another job?”

“Are you out of your mind? You can’t even take the stairs at the T without nearly having a stroke. How in the world are you going to be able to do something that physically challenging?”

“Are you out of your mind? It hard enough to make ends meet now, how can you possibly think about going back to school?

“Are you out of your mind?”

I bet that most of us have heard those words before. Maybe we have heard those words from someone close to us when we told them about some big, new thing we were thinking of doing, or a change we were thinking of making

Or maybe we have spoken those words to ourselves while staring at our reflection in the bathroom mirror after a sleepless night of worry.

Doing something new, making a change, is hard. I think that Sir. Isaac Newton’s first law of motion – you know the one that states that a body at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force – I think that applies not just to the objects around us, but to ourselves as well. We get used to a mindset, a way of thinking, seeing and being that over time is like a well-worn groove that is just our default without really thinking about it. We get used to being a body at rest. We get used to sameness, inertia and the resistance inertia brings.

It is resistance that we see facing Jesus in the Gospel passage for today. Jesus is stirring the imaginations and hearts of the people and that is making many uncomfortable. He is asking the people to step into a new reality. He is asking them to break out of what has become an old mindset. He is asking that they see themselves and those around them with the blessing of God’s goodness upon them. To see in each other and in themselves the finger prints of God and to live in a way that extends God’s grace and blessing. When Jesus says “who are my mother and my brothers?” and then goes on to say to those gathered around him “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my Brother, and Sister and Mother,” he is inviting people into a radical new way of seeing themselves in relations to each other and casting new purpose and meaning to their life together.

No wonder they think he is out of his mind.

And resistance is also what Samuel is getting from the people in our passage from Hebrew Scripture this morning. Samuel is doing his best to try to convince the people to be in a new way with each other to live under the guidance and care of God, to organize themselves as God’s people. But the people want nothing of it. They are stuck in a mindset that they need a king. They need to be like others, conforming to the structure of the nations around them. And while our scripture does not say it, I bet there was more than one in the crowd muttering under her breath as Samuel spoke to them the warning of God, “He has gone out of his mind.

So what are we to do given this pernicious tendency towards inertia?

We are to do what the crowd did that day in the Gospel account. We are to seek out Jesus. We are to invite God into the mix. We are to seek God as that “outside force” to collide with our inertia and set us off in new trajectories of spirit filled living and grace. And that, I believe has everything to do with why we are here today, why we are church. ~

Today after church we have our annual meeting and we will hear about the ministry of this church. We will plan for next year and vote on a budget that will carry us there. And all the while, I would like us to think about why it is that we do all this? What is the purpose of being together in this way, this way we call church? What role does church play in our lives and in our wider society? What ought to be our mindset?

There are many ways to answer that question, but one that has come home to me recently is that, at its best, church is an incubator of possibility, a laboratory of change.

Church is a place where we are called out of conformity with prevailing mindsets of fear, scarcity, and isolationism. Church is where we get to be “out of our minds” and dream dreams and live hope. Church is a place of love, abundance, radical welcome and compassionate community – a place of encounter where the power of God’s love made manifest in the love we have for each other and the world stirs us and sets us off to love God and love God’s people and to serve God and serve God’s people with greater and greater conviction and grace.

This week all across Boston, people, who a short while ago, many thought must be out of their minds, will gather to celebrate the full dignity and rights of our brothers and sisters who are Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian, and transgendered. It is remarkable to see the sweeping change in the mind set of so many in this country and around the world who are coming to realize that all are in fact beautiful and beloved children of God, brothers and sisters to us.

It gives me hope, and it give me pride to see that that written into the words of our covenant that bind us one to another and to God is the inclusive love of Jesus that we make manifest in our welcome to all in this place. It gives me hope and it give me joy, that every Sunday we gather together in each other’s presence and in the presence of God seeking an expansiveness of living that lifts us out of the inertia of the well-worn groove of what is and delivers us into the possibility of what more, new arising are emerging and calling us to new healings and new transformations not just for ourselves but for our world.

There is much that is not right in this world. There is much hatred, fear and pain. There are so many people that are suffering. There is much that needs to change. So let us continue to step up and step out. Let us continue to be ‘Out of our minds” dreaming big dreams and working hand and hand with God to bring them into being. Let our life together be a place of possibility, healing and hope that spills out, a force that helps to set in motion God’s grace and love in this beautiful but wounded world. Thanks be to God. AMEN