Sermons

"The Egg and I": Sermon for the Feast of St. Andrew, Year A

"The Egg and I": Sermon for the Feast of St. Andrew, Year A

Nov 26, 2017

Passage:Romans 10:8-18

Preacher: The Rev. Dr. Robert Pace

Series: Feast Day

Category: Grace, Salvation, Belief

Keywords: belief, healing, hope, salvation, shame

Summary:

Paul says that if we confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in our Hearts that God raised him from the dead, we will be saved. But what does that mean? How does our own shame and brokenness enter the picture? This sermon addresses these issues on this Feast Day of St. Andrew.

Detail:

In the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

When I was in Junior High, I loved going to church camp in the summer. Like for many kids, my Junior High years were a little awkward as I was trying to find my way. Particularly, I had very little confidence in myself in social situations.

Every summer, the last night of church camp ended with a big talent show from the campers. I worked up the courage to try a pantomime my dad taught me called "The Egg and I." I was convinced this would finally make my mark and kids would really appreciate me and give me great praise and glory. Basically, the action of the pantomime is this: you mime breaking a few eggs (as if in a kitchen), then get to one that simply won't break. Getting frustrated, you mime throwing  the unbreakable egg, then watch it miraculously bounce up and down and back and forth like a Superball! You excitedly mime calling someone on the phone to come see your amazing discovery. When they arrive, throw the egg down, and, of course, it splats! Scene over..

My fellow campers were mildly amused by my antics. They clapped politely.

Then, with the Bee Gees "Night Fever" booming on the record player, the next kid after me danced a perfect move-for-move imitation of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. The crowd roared their approval with a huge standing ovation that lasted hours and hours and hours (so it seemed to me!)

 I felt ashamed. I felt jealous. I wanted to hide. I felt not good enough.

And the truth is. These types of feelings are genuine and real for ALL of us at different times throughout our lives in different ways.

What's difficult is that it's in this state of vulnerability that we often come to God.

Hear me correctly. We SHOULD come to God when we are vulnerable.

But the problem is, that when we are in a state of vulnerability, we often get pulled into distorted views of God.

For example, when we are hurting most, that's when we're most likely to question ourselves.

Televangelists will ask: "Do you know in your heart if you are really, really saved? If you cannot answer that question, then all you have to do is say this simple prayer with me, "Jesus, I believe that you are Lord. That you died for my sins. And that God raised you from the dead."

Then they say: "We believe that if you prayed that prayer, then you are saved."

How did saying a few words materially change anything about you?

You are still essentially in the same hurting boat you were before!

What they are doing here is taking Paul's letter to the Romans that we heard today out of context.

Paul states: "if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

One of the reasons that so many in the modern Christian landscape try this quick-fix approach to salvation is that we tend to be walking around with a lot of shame in our lives.[1] On some level, we all worry that some aspect of our being just doesn't measure up in society. Shame is destructive. Shame is very real. Shame is this sneaking suspicion that we're just not good enough. Shame is the worry that an egg mime will never measure up to disco dancing!

But I don't think that Paul intended his words to be used as a magic formula. He never meant for us to use his words like a form of "abracadabra...now you're saved!"

So when Paul says: "if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved," what could he mean?

Perhaps, instead, Paul is saying when we confess that JESUS is Lord, we are taking time to admit that WE are NOT the Lord. In other words, when we take the time to admit to ourselves that we NEED a savior--that we cannot save ourselves--THAT is when healing begins!

Of course, what often gets in the way of this is our own baggage.

We still have that struggle. We have an inner voice that's always calling and speaking to us.

Sometimes that voice urges us forward. It encourages us and gives us strength.

"You can do it."

"Ignore the obstacles."

"You are prepared...go ahead and try."  

But part of the struggle is we all have a "little voice" that sometimes holds us back as well:

"What will people think?"

"I'm not (rich, or skinny, or successful, or pretty, or tall, or smart, or happy, or feminine, or masculine, or productive, or funny, or caring, or popular, or old, or young, or admired, or talented, or creative) enough."

"Taking care of them is more important than taking care of myself."[2]

You see, the thing about this particular inner voice--this sense of shame--is that we all have it. Shame is different than feeling guilty for something you have done wrong. Guilt is a sense that you have DONE something bad. Shame is the feeling that you ARE bad, or less than...

With guilt, we can make amends. We can have contrition. We can ask for forgiveness. We can correct the course.

Shame is about WHO we are and who we perceive ourselves to be.[3]

But our inner voice can also help to bring healing when we listen closely to what God says about us, and not what the world is saying about us.

Paul is telling us here in Romans that salvation--healing--is not just something that is to come at some point in the future when we die!

Salvation is something for us now. We need to recognize we are imprisoned by our shame and self-doubt.

God created us to be who we are. If the society around us tells us to be someone else, who do we listen to? Do we have the audacity to obsessively wonder if society is more right than God?

We need to take the steps toward God. And how do we do that?

Paul tells us that freedom starts with acknowledging that Jesus is Lord--not us.

And Jesus loves us without conditions, without strings attached--throughout time, forever and ever. Period.

To Jesus we are all of infinite worth. We have the highest value.

Paul says: "NO ONE who believes in him will be put to shame."

Our creator made us to be who we are. God made us male and female, gay and straight, tall and short, extravert and introvert, outgoing and shy, and everything in-between. Whatever your inner voice is saying about what these things mean in the world, put your faith and trust in God. 

You can be who God created you to be.

Jesus walks by the Sea of Galilee, he sees two brothers, Simon and Andrew, casting a net into the sea--they are fishermen. They aren't professional prophets, holy men, saints, priests, or royalty. They have their own baggage--their insecurities, jealousies, secret desires, hopes, and dreams. Jesus says, "Follow me." They listen to the inner voice that speaks God's truth, and they follow.

Now, Jesus says to us all: "Follow me."

That's a voice we should listen to.     Amen.

 

                [1] I am grateful for much of this argument coming from Alan Brehm, "No More Shame, Rom. 10:8-13; Lk. 4:1-13," The Waking Dreamer Blog, February 27, 2010, available at http://thewakingdreamer.blogspot.com/2010/02/no-more-shame-rom.html.

                [2] Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be And Embrace Who You Are (Center City, MN: Hazeldon, 2010), 38.

                [3] Ibid., 40-41.