Message 06 21 20 Priorities (Matthew 10:24-39)

Children’s message: 


Jesus came to bring not peace he said, but a sword… 

Now I have a couple of swords right here 


There was certainly a lot of fighting with swords in those days 

Not as much anymore, unless, you are like me 

A samurai warrior 


Was this the type of sword Jesus spoke about? 



But in the book of Revelation, Jesus is described as having a Sword as well, 

Interestingly, the sword is coming out of his mouth, not in his hand 


When he comes to judge the earth 

The Sword is his Tongue 

Which, proclaims the Word of God 

Indeed, Christ in every way is the Word of God 


What is the Word of God? 

How can it divide us? As it says today 

Even in our own family 


Well, there are some values, some things in life 

That are just so important 

Nothing else can get in the way of it - Even family 


The Word of God tells us mainly two things 

That we are in need of God’s grace and forgiveness and mercy 

We can freely accept it, and so God can transform us to love others 


It sounds crazy 

But if we actually hold true to those values of Christ 

It will make us better family members to begin with 


The family is like the smallest unit of our communities 

It starts right here in this group 

We start by caring for, and respecting here 


And then we go out 

And share it with others 

Especially our universal family of the Church 


And we always have that Sword of God, God’s Word 

That tells us, though we make mistakes and fail 

we are loved by God more than we can imagine 

And so is everyone else.  


May that Love guide your feet wherever they take you! :)  


Adult Message:


So, I recently decided, I’m not going to be white anymore… 

Now hear me out… 


I told my wife I actually have a lot of freckles   

So, a lot of me is not white anyways…

But culturally?   I am sure culturally I am very “white” 


I’m not happy with it 

This idea of “whiteness” 

No ethnic identity, not where you are from in the US 


Just white, bland, plain 

I am not really on board with that 

Because it is just not true 


Look at the Irish – not considered “white” at first 

Later power always needs to consolidate 


When I have to fill out any forms asking for demographics 

I will put Irish, Italian, Mexican, probably some English with a last name like Allen, adopted into the Lutheran family 


How can we deconstruct “whiteness”? 

It is a cultural concept, created by us 

It is neither historically accurate, 

Nor is it biblically viable, certainly not from a NT perspective 

Yet we see even in the OT the push toward diversity of language and culture 


When Lutherans arrived in this land 

German, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, etc. 

They still spoke their native languages 

Wanting to be American (and nothing wrong with patriotism) 

But they encouraged their offspring 

not to speak native languages 

Only to speak English so as to fit in better 


Now how many people wish 

they had kept up that other language? 


There is a natural human tendency to unite together 

One, monolithic culture, language, etc. 



We then often put that culture or idea 

or the economy, the country 

Above God somehow 

We put ourselves in God’s place 

Arbiters of the universe, or at least Fullerton CA 


What comes first for us?  What has highest priority? 


Rereading a book from 1970 called “Bury me at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown

History of what happened to the native peoples 

of what we call America 


There is a striking story of a General Carleton aka Star Chief 

in New Mexico, Late 1800’s 

Removes Navaho 

And other tribes of people living on the land for years 

Destroys their crops, steals their animals, 

burns their orchards 


People that were living in relative peace, 

Besides the feuding between themselves 

and Mexican raiders occasionally 


Yet they were taken from their land 

Put on a terrible reservation 

Where many suffered, and died 

So that the Europeans could invade and begin 

Mining the land and stripping its natural resources 


Writing about all of this the general said 

It was inevitable 

That his race of people should overtake this land 

It was Divine Providence that was leading them to do so

The Indigenous, though valiant, were just the weaker race 


It was not Divine Providence, it was simply human greed 

Greed that has existed forever 

And it comes from our fear 

Our need to conquer others 


Even those who came after the General was removed 

Who saw the conditions of the people… 

Did not fully restore them 

Gave them back some land, 

but not the best land they had before 


He acted like a paternalistic savior to them 

Instead of humbly returning what was theirs 


But we have here this idea the general was putting forward 

Our “race” is greater than other “races” 


Take the European settlers back to Europe 

And they had been fighting each other for centuries 


But this idea of the “white race” was formed 

And applied to Manifest Destiny 

A way to continue that human greed 


The Spaniards did it 

The Church was even coopted into this 

The land was there for the taking 

Because the people were not Christian 


Going against everything Jesus stood for in the process 


The Romans did it in the time of Jesus 

Taking over whole nations, 

though they mostly just made them pay homage 

Subjugated them with wars, force to pay taxes, 

usually they didn’t fully occupy a territory in the same way 


It has been happening over and over again 

throughout history 

Our own history is an example of that greed 

Jeremiah 28:

9 If I say, "I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name," then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. 

       The people were saying peace when there was no peace 

       They were all in agreement 

       Jeremiah was the lone voice of disagreement 

       He said there would be no peace with Babylon, 

              The people would be taken off into slavery 

                     Jerusalem destroyed 

              Not something they wanted to hear 

                     But they needed to! 


We need to hear different perspectives!  

People that disagree with us! 

It is actually a good thing 

Not when we are just fighting 

and talking over one another though 

As so often happens when things become heated 


Even with people very close to us 

it can be hard to have these difficult conversations 

Especially when we disagree 


One thing I remember when I was a kid 

My parents would go to my aunt and uncle’s house with other family and friends 

Every year like a big party 

But they would be arguing and having debates and conversations the whole night 

They called it Yankee Pub 

No talk about specific politicians, 

But they would talk about the issues 

that were going to be voted on 

Things got a little heated in there, 


I don’t remember any fistfights breaking out 

I was mostly playing with my cousins having fun 


But it still instilled in me this desire 

To debate, to argue 

I took a personality test before my first trip to the Holy Land 

To prepare - Said I was a debater 

My wife wholeheartedly agreed 


I like to debate - Express my perspective 

I am grateful to the work of chaplaincy 

Which teaches us to listen first 

To hear from all sides of an argument 

Even though sometimes it is painful 


I think it is important for our country, 

for our church, and for our city, For our family unit 


I think it is important to be able to know our own story 

Maybe where one is from here in the USA 

Or where the family came from to get here 

To think about how we are unique 


How your church is different from others 

There is not just one monolithic culture 

That is what God wants actually 

God wants us to be unique - Different, special, set apart 

God wants diversity (Tower of Babel) 


And - We can have differences 

And still be united as people of God 

With what is of primary importance 


What are our priorities as people of God? 

What have we put above God? 


We must die to ourselves once again 

Jesus says you must lose your life 

Your soul, your self 

To find it.  


We must listen to others - Grow to love others 

Let go of greed and control for power 

Die to our fear 

That holds us back from fully opening up to one another 

Our fear of losing, Our fear of the other 


We must claim our identity in Christ 

God’s love that unites us 

beyond our culture and language etc. 

We need a healing, a revival! 

a rebirth!! Salvation 

We need justice 

Because we have justice and mercy with God 

We can do so with one another 


Don’t know where to begin? 

Quoting Joanne Larson who is a Coach for the ELCA: 

“Start local!”  

Support the education and development of youth 

Support opportunities for meaningful employment 

Promote moral values of care and compassion for others 

Paul says that we have died to sin, 

and been reborn with Christ 

The evil is washed away 


And we can finally live into who God created us to be 

With all our quirkiness, our differences, our arguments 

Our visions of what life could be 


And hopefully, 

With all of our love and kindness, 

Compassion and mercy we can muster.