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It’s Independence Day It’s Independence Day

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It’s Independence Day

Posted on Sun, Jul 5, 2009

It’s Independence Day
Rev. Jim Merritt
Trinity Gainesville MCC
July 5, 2009 
Mark 6: 1 - 13 


 Good morning, Trinity MCC in Gainesville. I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am to finally be here. Since I saw you last I completed the coursework for my Doctor of Ministry degree, I packed up my apartment in Cambridge, I leased an apartment here, I drove my 1979 Cadillac from Cambridge to Virginia where we boarded the Auto Train for Florida. I attended the MCC Region 7 Conference in Pensacola. I packed a whole lot more in Orlando, brought it over here, set it up. And then on Friday, Finally the moving van arrived with the contents of the Cambridge apartment and we are ALMOST settled in. Whew. I have to confess; I’m a little bit tired.

 And there’s already a lot going on around here. Meetings being scheduled, members read to be received into the church, lots of email going both ways. And so I want to remind you that I’ve started today the practice that you’ve probably already heard about. In the Narthex there is a list of available meeting times with me for this coming week. If those times don’t work for you or if you need me to meet you someplace other than here at church, please see me and I’ll be happy to work it out. We have a lot of getting to know each other ahead and for now we have some readings with which to deal, so let’s thing together for a few minutes about what God has in store for us together this morning.

    1. Independence Day
    1. Happy Independence Day! Happy Independence Day! This long weekend we celebrate an important day in the history of our country. Independence Day. It’s a celebration of freedom, of equal rights, of justice for all. And it’s a celebration of a work in progress. We know that Independence, freedom and equality for all is not a completed work. Many of us still struggle for the same basic rights that others have. The right to marry, the right to share property, the right to make basic healthcare decisions for our loved ones when they are unable to do so themselves, the right to visit our loved ones in hospitals and other institutions, basic inheritance rights, and even the right to make decisions for each other in the final moments of life. We do want to celebrate Independence Day with the rest of our American brothers and sisters, and yet we will not be able to completely celebrate this day until we share the same rights they do.
    1. It’s sometimes comforting to know that Jesus has experienced, lived through and survived every thing that occurs in our own lives. Do you see in the gospel this morning that Jesus is teaching in his own home town and the religious leaders are just not buying it.
      1. Have you even had an experience like that? One where perhaps you were called on to speak before a group of your friends or your peers or your family? And could you just hear the voices either quietly or loudly questioning, “Who does that little Jim Merritt or (your name) think he is?” He went off to college and now he thinks he knows it all.” He went to those fancy seminaries and he forgot everything we taught him. Who does he think he’s fooling with this inclusive stuff? You know people like that I’m sure.
      2. Jesus, even though it was very difficult for him there, kept on trying and did not give up.
        1. He taught what he had been sent to talk.
        2. He preached what he had been sent to preach
        3. He did the work that he had been sent to do
        4. He healed “a few” sick people
        5. And he went on his way, still committed to the calling he heard from God.
        6. Even with limited success, the child of God, the child of Humankind kept at it and refused to give up
        7. And he reminded us that even a prophet, even people like you and me, can have a very difficult time finding honor, finding equality and Justice, finding a welcoming and affirming place in her or his home town, county, state, or country.
        8. And I’m reminded once again of the words inscribed at the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free.”
        9. And sometimes we’ve said give them to us but don’t expect us to honor them, to treat them fairly, to love them, but send them anyway
        10. And many of them have been treated in similar and worse ways to the way we’ve been treated and we know how that feels and Jesus knows how that feels.
        11. And I want to remind all of us, my dear sisters and brothers that being invited to the White House for a little cookie and punch like some of our LGBT friends were this week does NOT mean progress unless true freedom and equality stretches from the big white house all the way to the little pink house right here in Gainesville and all through the land.
        12. I like the bumper sticker that says, “Discrimination against one of us is discrimination against all of us.”
        13. We must continue in the struggle, the way Jesus continued in his.
    1. Independent from the past
    1. Jesus took the disciples on out into the villages and towns and they began to work miracles and heal people and help people make real changes in their lives.
    1. They did not let past experiences stop them from following through on their callings either.
    2. Are we willing to do that too?
      1. You see I know many of us have suffered deep trauma, deep hurt, and difficult setbacks.
      2. I know that you’ve had some of that together here as a church.
      3. I know some of us have lived through horrific abuse at the hands of those we loved and at the hands of those who were supposed to love us back.
      4. I know we have felt the lack of honor in our own towns.
      5. And I want to share some really good news with you this morning.
        1. We can follow the instruction that Jesus gave the disciples and shake that old dust off of our feet and move forward.
        2. There is independence from trauma, in the name of Jesus.
        3. There is independence from old physical, sexual, emotional abuse, in the name of Jesus.
        4. There is independence from being used up and beat up in the name of Jesus.
        5. I love the song that Sandy Patty sang years ago, that says, “Are there burdens in your heart, is your past a memory that binds you? Then strengthen your hearts with this Good News; there is a Savior who’s forgiven you.” I the name of Jesus
        6. And yes in hurtful times there is a tendency to blame ourselves and I speak to all of us independence from that kind of thinking this morning, in the name of Jesus.
        7. And I call us out, in Jesus name
        8. Out to be ALL that God created us to be, in Jesus name.
        9. Out to fulfill our own personal potential, In Jesus name.
        10. Out to fulfill our potential together, in Jesus name
        11. Out lives filled with Joy unspeakable and Happiness Divine, in Jesus name.
        12. We can sing with the Psalmist, “Great is our God and greatly to be praised.
        13. Let us make this our Independence Day.
        14. Happy Independence Day, my sisters and brothers.
    1. Prayer
    1. God we give you honor and glory and praise for this Independence Day. Help us walk in freedom. Freedom from all those things that have held us back. Great is your faithfulness, Oh God. We give you thanks, in Jesus name.
        1. God bless you this morning.
        2. Amen.


Psalm 48

A Song. A Psalm of the Korahites. 
Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised 
 in the city of our God. 
God’s holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, 
 is the joy of all the earth, 
Mount Zion, in the far north, 
 the city of the great ruler. 
Within its citadels God 
 has shown a sure defence. 
Then the rulers assembled, 
 they came on together. 
As soon as they saw it, they were astounded; 
 they were in panic, they took to flight; 
trembling took hold of them there, 
 pains as of a woman in labour, 
as when an east wind shatters 
 the ships of Tarshish. 
As we have heard, so have we seen 
 in the city of the God of hosts, 
in the city of our God, 
 which God establishes for ever. 
We ponder your steadfast love, O God, 
 in the midst of your temple. 
Your name, O God, like your praise, 
 reaches to the ends of the earth. 
Your right hand is filled with victory. 
 Let Mount Zion be glad, 
let the towns
of Judah rejoice 
 because of your judgments. 
Walk about Zion, go all around it, 
 count its towers, 
consider well its ramparts; 
 go through its citadels, 
that you may tell the next generation 
 that this is God, 
our God for ever and ever. 
 Yahweh will be our guide for ever.

Mark 6: 1-13

Jesus left that place and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offence at him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honor, except in their home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’ And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.