Dec 9, 2012: Do you want everyone to change, except you?

Posted on : Dec 6th, 2012 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

“Nothing happens until something moves.”

Something moves

Those are brilliant words.  But if we were to put them in the context of human behavior we would say, “Nothing happens until someone moves.”

A number of years ago I discovered a strange phenomenon about progressive Christians.   Progressive Christians want everybody else to change, but not themselves – or shall I say, “ourselves.”  I encountered this first among many GLBT progressive Christian organizations.   For example, in the Presbyterian Church, there were three progressive LGBT organizations.  None of them was getting anywhere.  They kept doing the same thing, over and over again.  I finally spoke up and said, “You know, we’re using a 1960’s civil rights model in the 21st century.  What worked then isn’t working now.   We need to change.”  No one moved and nothing changed.  Well, not quite true.  We did!  We left the homophobic Presbyterian Church and moved into the extravagant welcome of the United Church of Christ.   But other than that, nothing much has changed.

The same thing happened around marriage equality.  In 2008 when we lost the vote on Prop 8 the anger and response was overwhelming.  Within hours a rally and protest march was planned from West Hollywood Park to Hollywood and Highland.  But a strange thing happened.  There were actually two protest groups that formed.  One was led by our tried and true “senior LGBT activists.”  They had “a rally” in WeHo Park that had just about every LGBT supportive politician in LA County speaking.  They talked and talked for about an hour.

Another group of young activists formed their own protest via social media.  They met, not in the park, but at the intersection of Santa Monica and San Vicente.  They were angry as hell and ready to march.  They didn’t much care about the old school politicians that were pontificating in the Park.  The group from our Church was in the middle of the young crowd.  We were ready to march.

That was a moment of awakening for the “senior” leaders of the LGBT community.  A new generation arrived and with them came a new way of organizing, a new way of messaging and a new message.

For those in their 20’s they didn’t give a darn about the one thousand plus “rights” heterosexuals got through marriage.  They came from a different place.  They just wanted to marry the person they loved.  It was a completely different message and a very different way of messaging.  Look at what worked!  The new message and the new messaging!

When religion reached the point where it was strangling the life and faith out of people, God delivered on an ancient promise:  “a new message – from a new messenger – with new messaging.”  John the Baptist was one of the new messengers.  John had a simple message for us:  “Repent, for the realm of God – the way of God – is at hand!  Then he did a remix using an old message that still had meaning, one the Prophet Isaiah uttered years earlier (like 600 years earlier!)

“Clear a path through the wilderness for our God,

make a straight road through the desert for our God!

Every valley shall be lifted up,

and every mountain and hill shall be brought down and made low;

The uneven ground shall become level,

and the rough places as level as a plain.

And the glory of God shall be revealed,

and all flesh shall see it together.

What’s the message in this messaging?  The original meaning of repentance was not an admission and confession of sin.  It was the call to change one’s life and move in a new direction, claiming a new “way.”

Over the years, I discovered that one of the greatest spiritual mistakes we can make is expecting everyone else to change – except ourselves.  “Do you want everyone to change, except you?”  If so, I have good news for you this Sunday!

Blessings,

Dan

~ This Sunday’s Scriptures ~

Isaiah 40: 1-11

The prophet announces the coming of God.

“Console my people, give them comfort,” says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem’s heart, and tell God’s people

that their misery has ended,

that their injustice is atoned for,

that they have received from God’s hand double for all their sins.

A voice cries out:

“Clear a path through the wilderness for our God,

make a straight road through the desert for our God!

Every valley shall be lifted up,

and every mountain and hill shall be brought down and made low;

The uneven ground shall become level,

and the rough places as level as a plain.

And the glory of God shall be revealed,

and all flesh shall see it together,

for the mouth of God has spoken.”

 

Matthew 3: 1-12

John the Baptist announces a big change that is happening:

“Repent, for the realm of heaven is at hand!”

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Change your hearts and minds, for the reign of heaven is about to break in upon you!”

It was John that the prophet Isaiah described when Isaiah prophesied,

“A voice cries in the wilderness:

Prepare the way of our God,

make straight the path of God.”

Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.  At that time, Jerusalem, all Judea and all the region about the Jordan went out to John, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

When John saw that many of the Pharisees and Sadducees were coming to be baptized John said to them, “You pack of snakes!  Who told you to flee from the coming wrath?”   Give some evidence that you mean to reform!  And don’t pride yourselves on the claim, ‘Sarah and Abraham are our parents.’  I tell you, God can raise children for Sarah and Abraham from these very stones!

Even now the ax is laid to the root of the tree.  Every tree that is not fruitful will be cut down and thrown into the fire.  I will baptize you in water if you have a change of heart, but the One who will follow me is more powerful than I.  I’m not fit even to untie the sandals of the Coming One!  That One will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire.”

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