Most of y’all know that I grew up just a few hours away from here in Archer City, Texas. I went to college at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. You may even know that Wichita Falls has a big bike race every year – the Hotter than Hell 100. They ride 100 miles in August in Texas. That bicycle race was this weekend. I think they caught a break with the temperatures this week, some years it really is hotter then hell.
When I was working as a waitress to put myself through undergrad, I worked at a little “Italian” place. On Hotter than Hell weekends, I learned about carbo-loading. We would serve all you could eat spaghetti- and boy would they go at it – plate after plate of spaghetti. The theory is that by eating a LOT of carbs right before a big race, your body has a lot of easily stored and easily accessible energy – fuel for the journey.
I thought about that a lot as I was doing my sermon prep this week. All this bread talk – all these carbs – we’re stuffed full to the brim and tired of bread!! This is our last week of bread and it has me wondering what Jesus is up to here? Are we carbo-loading? Is Jesus preparing us for something? Is there a reason we’ve been carbo-loading for five weeks now? What will we need energy and endurance to get through?
Individually, what’s up in your lives? Schools starts next week – maybe strength and patience for the teachers, knowledge and understanding for the students, wisdom for the administrators, grace for all involved? You all have something you are trying to get through right now – I don’t know what it is for you but you do. Jesus has given you the Bread of life to get you through.
How about as a church? What is Jesus up to at St Martin? We have several new ministry opps coming with our Fall programming – we don’t know all the details yet – we don’t know where we will be led or what will be asked of us, but we’ve been fed and we’re ready. We have a lot of leadership here that has been filling up on carbs and is ready for whatever we may face.
How about as a diocese? We have Convention coming up – we will have a new provisional bishop soon. Bp Ohl’s time with us will be finished at convention – this is causing a LOT of anxiety in the diocese right now. We will have new leadership, a new chief pastor – and we don’t know yet who it will be – we probably won’t know until October-ish. We are challenged to begin planning toward reconciliation and what this diocese will look like in 5 years. It is scary and exciting – some people want to NOT MAKE A MISTAKE – keep the status quo. Others are ready to try something new and risk a mis-step on the possibility that it could be better. There are some like the people in the Gospel this morning who want to turn around and go back to where we came from – and others who want to forge ahead – which group is following Jesus?
How about as a Society? We have a national election coming up in case you haven’t noticed. And Lord Help Us Please – November 6 can NOT get here fast enough for me – I am already sick of the whole process. I am really mad about the level of misinformation being publicized. This is where I am going to go into RN Public Health Teaching mode on you. I hope you all know that certain remarks made by a politician last week are WRONG – completely and utterly wrong. There is no biological fact behind what was said and the implications of it are more than just dangerous. I have a friend, Martha Spong, who has written about this danger. She has done the deep reflective work of how all of this affects the church by affecting it’s members. She has labeled this mis-information as Old Husband’s Tales and I think she is exactly right. The article is on Huffington Post, and I really want you to look it up and read it. I'll put the link on our Facebook page so you can find it. What the politician said is completely untrue – a myth that seems to have persisted in spite of 5th grade Biology classes to the contrary. I’ll bet there are 5th grade Biology teachers out there shaking their heads and wondering why they bothered to pick up all those permission slips for that film over the years. These myths are dangerous because they perpetuate the mindset that women need to be taken care of – they need guidance on how to handle their own bodies, their decisions and their basic health care. In the South, we are especially susceptible to this notion. What seems like a nice caring-for is actually treating women as less than – not smart enough to know what’s happening, not smart enough to make her own decisions, not smart enough to look at the facts at hand and figure out how to go forward. Now don’t get me wrong – we don’t want to be put on a pedestal either. Our bodies are not mysterious or magical – we are biological human beings that deserve equal treatment.
This teaching is difficult - Does this offend you? If you disagree with proven and biological facts, I hope it offends you. I hope you will be inspired to do your own research or talk with me – or other scientific people about it. I do not want you to no longer go about with me –I hope we can discuss it – but even Jesus was OK with allowing people to walk away from hard teaching. This is non-negotiable in 2012 – our sons and daughters are relying on us to work this out.
Episcopalians are typically better educated than the general population - Our Christian duty is to speak out against ignorance and oppression – we have vowed to respect the dignity of every human being – male or female. As Episcopalians, we are in a UNIQUE position to speak the hard facts into the public discourse. We have a Presiding Bishop who is a Biologist and a Female. You all are here listening to a sermon preached by a priest who is a female. We can hold onto the tensions of society and engage the conversations without having to apologize for our Christianity!
Jesus hasn’t carbo-loaded us to send us off without support. In a few minutes – and every time we gather for Communion - we eat the flesh and drink the blood. Let us keep our eyes open for what Jesus is up to among us in our lives, at St Martin, in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and out in the world. Let us use our spiritual strength gathered here to see Christ at work in the world about us and join in that work. Amen.