3/10/19 – “Goodness Is Stronger than Evil”

Posted on : Mar 7th, 2019 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

My, oh, my, it’s hard to believe we are beginning our last Lent together.  However, it is so appropriate that we begin this time of ending our pastoral relationship with the season of Lent.  You see, Lent is the time when we think about endings and new beginnings.  After 35 years of serving as your pastor and almost 42 years in ordained ministry, the time is coming closer for me to retire.  And with that comes not only loss for you and me, but a tremendous new opportunity for you as you select your next spiritual leader. 

When I was called as your Pastor 35 years ago, we were in uncharted water.  We were the first “main line” Protestant congregation in the world that had a gay and lesbian congregation and a gay pastor.  It was exciting and challenging – and at times – overwhelming.  We were trying to find our place in a denomination that was hostile to gay and lesbian folks and at times, just plain mean spirited. 

My heart has been aching for our friends in the United Methodist Church as they travel down the same road we did when we were a Presbyterian Church.  The very thought of what they are going through rekindles the pain from the spiritual abuse we experienced in our journey from slavery to freedom, from oppression to liberation, from death to new life.  We heard things said in denominational meetings that we never dreamed we would hear spoken, let alone in a Christian gathering.  Often what was said was vile and violent.  My advice to progressive Methodists is to split the Church and enjoy your new spiritual life.  The opposition is not going to change.  This isn’t about education, it’s about learned hatred.  Sometimes you just gotta cut your losses and move on.  An abusive relationship is an abusive relationship.  Period.  We moved on, and look at the joy we found!

In all of our struggles for justice, whether it be for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender justice and equality, or women’s rights and equality, or human rights and dignity for immigrants or the poor, or criminal justice reform, or any other human liberation movement, in each of these struggles we have confronted evil “head on.”  The lure of evil is real and the power of evil is undeniable.  So, we shouldn’t be surprised that the first thing Jesus encountered in his 40 days in the wilderness was to confront evil head on.  The forces of evil wanted Jesus to bend to them, but he doesn’t.  The Evil One thought Jesus would be an easy target.  He was hungry, weak and vulnerable.  Jesus proved them wrong.  He was not about to bow down to evil or to sacrifice his spiritual dignity to buy into their evil ways. 

Centuries later, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, would put into words what Jesus knew and what we now know and believe: 

Goodness is stronger than evil,

Love is stronger than hate. 

Light is stronger than darkness;

Life is stronger than death.

Vict’ry is ours, vict’ry is ours through Christ who loves us.

Vict’ry is ours, vict’ry is ours through Christ who loves us

As so, as we begin our last Lent together, we’re going to look at the times and places where God changes our lives, for the better.

Blessings to each of you!

Dan

Matthew 4

Jesus is tempted by the Devil

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  Having fasted forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry.  And the tempter came and said to Jesus, “If you are the Child of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But Jesus answered, “It is written,

     ‘One shall not live by bread alone,
But by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took Jesus to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said, “If you are the Child of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

     ‘God will give the angels charge of you,’

And

     ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
      Lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to the devil, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Sovereign your God.’”

Again, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain, and showed him all the nations of the world and the glory of them; and the devil said to Jesus, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to the devil, “Be gone, Satan!  For it is written,

    ‘You shall worship the Sovereign your God,
     And God only shall you serve.’”

Then the devil left Jesus, and angels came and ministered to him.

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