Narrating Grace

Sermon for Lauren

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I thank David Lose at Working Preacher, as is so often the case, for the inspiration for this sermon.

Text: Luke 8:26-39
Dear Lauren,
Today is God’s good day.
A good day to baptize you.
Unconditional love, declared for you
God crossed all boundaries to make this day happen
To call you Lauren, my child, beloved
You are Mine
God made you, Lauren Lyn
And says, “She is good”
Gave you a sweet smile
Calm demeanor
A big sister who likes to teach
Though some days you won’t want to learn
You’ll challenge, stretch and bless your family
Your parents will ask, “Why us?”
Some days this will be a pleading question
When you pace them to exhaustion with questions
Sticky furniture, whiney dissatisfaction and nap-neglect
Sister-shenanigans
At the same time they ask, “Why us?”
With awe and reverence for the girl you are
All of you—your quirks and blessings
Created and claimed by a loving and faithful God.
God in Jesus did the same, long ago
Crossing the sea to Gentile land
For one act
To meet and free a man
Called Legion
Named after the demons who possessed him
At least 6,000
No one knew his real name anymore
They spoke for him
Ran from him
He was trapped in the tombs
Wandering in a graveyard
No clothes to protect him from scorching sun or sandy wind
Breaking the shackles with great, heaving seizures
Running frantically into the wilderness to spare others his sight
Empty, devastated, no one
Dangerous, separate
Heartbreaking.
Bound.  Chained.
Legion.
 
Bound. Chained.
The world tells us:
We’re never good enough
Skinny enough
Smart enough
Organized enough
Joyful enough
Rich enough
Talented enough
Friendly enough
Strong enough
Nice enough
Happy enough.
Worth enough.
Worth anything.
We tell ourselves
I lack.
I’m deficient.
I fail.
I’ve failed a lot.
I disappoint.
I can’t.
I’m not.
Legions of issues.
Depressed.
Anxious.
On medication.
Screwed up.
Addicted.
Fired.
Let go.
Broken up.
Denied.
Aren’t I worth keeping?
Lauren,
The world may tell you
Convince you
Worse yet–
You’ll convince yourself
You’re nothing but a patchwork
Of what you lack
Mistakes you’ve made
Talents you don’t possess
A body that doesn’t fit the right type
You’ll say, I’m Legion
Identified by my 6,000 problems and wrongs
You’ll ask
Aren’t I someone?
Aren’t I worth keeping?
Oh yes.
Jesus crossed the waters for you.
JUST for you.
He takes your sin and perceived lack and throws it into a herd of swine, 
hurling themselves off a cliff, 
shattering your chains, 
removing bounds
We don’t lack. 
We ABOUND
Abound in God’s love
Child of God
Washed clean and cherished

So much more than our failures and disappointments
So much more than our addictions and health issues
So much more than our insecurities and egos
Not more, but through
Not lacking, but whole
God taking our weakness, our sin, and making something good out of it
For God knows how to work with weakness and make it powerful.
You are good.
All of you.

Clothed in a warm robe of righteousness
Grafted onto the tree of life so we grow from God like branches from a Redwood
Sturdy, ancient
Part of a long, long story
Rooted in our identity as children of God
When you’re lost
Forgotten who you are
Think of this warm, rainy, sticky summer morning
When the waters of baptism flowed over your head
When God drew you into God’s community
Sealed you with the Holy Spirit
Marked you with the cross of Christ
Forever.

Ground yourself in the ancient tree of God
Deep roots
Nothing can shake you
Nothing else has the last word
The bonds are shattered

Deficiencies,
Silenced.

Demons,
Silenced.

Evil, 
Silenced.

Only God’s voice left to tell you through the sheer silence:

You are beloved
Child of God
Blessed and claimed for all you are
Abundant and full

Let your light so shine!

Lauren. 
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