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Deeper: Contracts (Stewardship Season 2021)

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  • We're beginning stewardship season
    • SS isn't just about the financial needs of the church, although that's important and we'll get there towards the end
    • Instead, it's about how our whole lives relate to God and to each other
    • remember back in the summer & open arms: Gen 1 - it's who we're created to be!
    • Session has as its vision that we are the most vital church around, and Mark invites to discuss discipleship
    • That's an interesting intersection, but I think it could be summarized as depth.
  • An interesting way to try to kick this off, for sure.
    • This passage in Mark has been used far too often to injure people about when they've gone through divorce, for that I'm sorry.
    • This has also been a passage that's been used to try to show that this is some comment on same sex marriages, too. If you've dealt with that, I'm sorry.
    • Because if that's as far as we take this passage, we find ourselves in the position of the Pharisee, which is almost always a losing proposition.
    • Instead, I think what Jesus is inviting to think deeper than the contract.
  • Contract
    • The Pharisees already knew the answer here: yes, it is divorce is lawful. One is able to decree a divorce. That's been the case for centruies
    • Instead, Jesus reminds folks that the connections that we have with each other go deeper than the contractual obligations that we place before one another
    • This is something I've gained from many of my friends and members of churches I've served that have been divorced that almost always rings true: even if it was the right thing to do, it's not as though that person that one was previously married to doesn't come with them.
    • Marriage and divorce are greater than the paper and the pomp and circumstance.
    • But this isn't the only way that our relationships are deeper than what's on paper.
  • Deeper
    • So many of our relationships are framed contractually, if you start to think about it more
      • How we are to our spouses, our families
      • Members of the church
      • Members of our community
    • And, it's not impossible to leave those there. But what are we losing?
    • Voluntourism
      • The idea that people would basically vacation to areas to do work in communities.
      • And of course, this can include mission trips
      • There is a contract here - poor, foreign people will joyfully accept our help and we'll write in on our steeds, take a few selfies and feel good about the days work
      • We can even be guilty of that locally - sometimes we bring people together for a big day's celebration of service, feel good and then go home. That's the contract!
      • But the question is where are we more fully connected to those we serve
        • Are they beloved children of God?
        • Do they have wants, needs, dreams, desires beyond our trip? Of course
        • Walking deeper then, beyond the contract, is to know them, to celebrate them, to not consider someone a lesser given the circumstances
        • It may mean that we carry them with us, of course.
    • But we have to consider that these contractual obligations work both ways
      • Sometimes, our contractual obligations are not to affirm someone, but to distrust or disapproval.
      • This is something that particularly plagues churches
        • It's why we joke about the church dinner plates - because there are wars in churches drawn because of kitchen supplies
        • Somebody did something ten years ago and now we don't talk to them.
        • While we can be some of the most loving folks, well, we can also sometimes be the most petty.
      • I think a question before us as a congregation is are we willing to go deeper both on the positive and the negative.
    • And while I don't think it's necessarily accurate to say that these two parts of this text go together, they do pose an interesting question: as we spend time trying to stick to our scripts in the contracts, are we not inviting the most vulnerable into our midst, who need to feel Christ's embrace the most?
  • On a World Communion Sunday
    • This is perfect. It's a time we gather with people all over the world and we reconsider our contract at the shared table of Jesus Christ, in which there is no contract except for deep belovedness.
    • Good stewardship will be rethinking those contracts amidst the font and the table for better things that are in store.


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