Monday, January 07, 2013

Calumet Yellows Reunion Sermon: Rowdy Faith in A Rowdy God

What follow's is a rough manuscript of a sermon I preached this past Sunday at Camp Calumet Lutheran during a reunion retreat weekend for the previous summer's teenage campers.  There's a few inside jokes throughout the text, but hopefully they won't be too distracting.  For a full Twitterfeed from the event, click here.  For more info about our curriculum for the weekend, click here.  I'd love to here what you think!

So, you may have heard at some point that we’ve been live tweeting throughout the Yellows 2012 Reunion. There were some pretty good tweets out on the tweetosphere this weekend… on one end of the spectrum we had some about exploring our faith. On the other, we had some about the smellyness of our farts… all of these were good tweets. That said, my favorite tweet of the weekend was one of the first… it was written by Rachael. She was probably heading back to her cabin Friday night when she wrote something along the lines of “that was a rowdy devos.” A rowdy devos… a rowdy devotionals… who would have thought! Those two words don’t usually go together, but Rachael was definitely right… while we were learning about each other’s faith and playing people bingo and singing a bunch of camp songs, things got pretty rowdy.


Ya know, sitting by the fire last night, thinking about the weekend and going over the Bible texts for today, I eventually realized why I liked Rachael’s tweet so much… it was filled with really, really good news. And that good news is that we have a faith that can make things get a little rowdy… we have a rowdy faith. In fact, God Herself was getting a little rowdy in today’s gospel story. It’s a pretty well known one… three wise men, or sometimes we call them the three kings, came from the east, or from basically really far away, and told King Herod they came to worship the baby Jesus because they were led by a star in the sky. Herod wasn’t a big fan of baby Jesus, so he tried to use the wise men to find Jesus and kill him, but luckily, Herod’s plan didn’t work… Instead, the wise men followed the star all to Bethlehem; they knelt down and worshiped Jesus, and eventually, they went back home by a different road.

Now, I imagine you’re wondering, how was God getting so rowdy in the story? The answer begins with the fact that God didn’t put that star in the sky for some priests in Jerusalem or for King Herod… She put that star in the sky for three wise men from far away, which means three folks that were far outside God’s old covenant with Israel. By putting that star in the sky for the three wise men, God proclaimed the good news that all are welcomed, that all are saved and that all are loved through Christ. You see, for all the religious authorities and King Herod, this news would have been completely unexpected… they thought the Messiah was only coming for Israel… by shaking things up, God was getting pretty rowdy.


You see my friends, we have a rowdy God, and we have a rowdy faith, and that is amazingly good news. And you know what, we learned a bit this weekend that at least in some ways, we have a rowdy church too… As Lutherans we have the largest charitable organization in the United States, Lutheran Social Services, shaking things up and helping folks out… that’s pretty rowdy. Through it's Young Adults in Global Mission Program, the ELCA is sending about fifty young adults, some just a couple years older than you all, abroad ever year to shake things up and help folks out… that’s pretty rowdy too.  We also have offices at the international, national and state levels advocating for a more just society.  Of course, our church needs to do more… the world is changing really, really fast, and as faith communities we’ve got to change too. In our world, in this time and place, the church can’t look like it used to. We talked a lot this weekend about what Calumet means to us as well, and for me at least, by providing such a powerful model of serving others, of loving others and of worshiping God in fun and life giving ways, Camp Calumet is one place that represents the change we need to make as a church… it’s a place shaking things up with a rowdy faith in a rowdy God.

The good news of the rowdy things God is doing through Christ… that’s what today’s gospel message is all about and it’s the same good news that Christians all over the world are celebrating today. You see, today’s a very special church holiday called Epiphany… in many Spanish-speaking congregations it’s actually a bigger celebration than Christmas. On Epiphany, the reason we read the story of the wise men is that when God put that star up in the sky, guiding folks from far away to the newborn Jesus in Bethlehem, the good news that through Christ, God loves, accepts and cares for all us was proclaimed. So my friends, as you go home on this Epiphany Sunday, celebrate and share the good news of our rowdy faith in a rowdy God… a God that loves you and you and you… a rowdy God that loves all of us, whether we’re young or old, gay or straight, black or white, rich or poor, whether we’re outgoing or shy or even a weird kid that loves cats, fireworks and margarine. In short my friends, celebrate God’s good news, and get rowdy.


Dustin is currently a vicar at the Lutheran Office for World Community and Saint Peter's Church in Manhattan, having recently completed his second year of a Masters of Divinity program at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. While seeking ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, his focus is on the intersection between worship, service and justice building in de-centralized faith communities unencumbered by a traditional church building. In his free time, Dustin really likes playing frisbee, hiking and pretending to know how to sing.

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