Come Out! And Be Free to be You – Mother’s Day Sermon

Come Out! And Be Free to be You

I John 5:1-5

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child.  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.  For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,  for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.  Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Have you ever owned a dog? If you have then you may understand the importance of Obedience training. Many breeds of dogs are eager to please their human companions – eager for the reward for their obedience – rub on the head or belly, scratch behind the ears, a treat, sometime at the dog park to play with other dogs, or simply just the words “good girl” or “good boy.” Cats on the other hand I am told will do their best to train you to obey them.

Obedience is often one of the first life lessons we learn from our parents – it begins in small ways at first when we are tiny – a gentle nudge away of a hand grabbing for our eyeglasses or our hair with the word “No” often “No No No” No touch.

The training promotes safety as our children test limits and abilities with toddling and childhood. “Take that out of your mouth” “put that down before you break it” “that’s mommy’s not yours” “wash your hands before you eat”

And then there are the ground rules and limits set for increasingly independent youngsters
“be home before dark”
“don’t ride your bike farther than you are able to see the house and absolutely no riding on the highway,” “do your homework first then if there’s time you may play a game,” “one cookie is enough, put the others back!”

rules

Of course the rules get more serious as the teen years approach: “no dating until your sixteen without one of your parents present,” “loud music after 9PM will Not be tolerated,” “laziness will result in forfeiture of your allowance,” “Clean your room or lose your privileges” “Clothes go in the hamper not next to it on the floor” – some of us never learn that one, “just say no to everything except your mother!”

Obedience of our parental folks is sometimes for our own good – health & safety for instance.
Other times obedience is truly about imposing our will on our children, sometimes with positive intention and sometimes with negative results.

One of the major changes in our cultural landscape recently has been the diminishing privacy people have. It seems we can’t or don’t hide much from anybody these days. You may bemoan that as a loss of freedom and perhaps that’s correct.

Privacy, however should never be used as a smoke screen for abusive behaviors against children. So to the extent that decreasing privacy helps uncover injustice against vulnerable people, then we must ask which value is most important to us our privacy or the freedom of another from abuse or exploitation?

Obedience should never be Coercive or about Manipulation of another human being. And this is even true of obedience to God.

MotherTObey
Obedience is often associated with Rewards and Punishments.
• Break the law, or the rule, or the Limit and get caught, you are subject to punishment.
• Obey the law and nobody will notice – but your reward may be a lower insurance premium or you may get a treat like DQ or Permission to go to the concert.
• Religion has said obey God and you’ll get in to heaven – ticket stamped – destination confirmed.
• Disobey God and you’ll find yourself in the throws of hell.

Obeying God is Less about Rewards & Punishments and Mostly about following God’s commandments = Love God & Love Every Neighbor
Obeying God is:
• to submit yourself to the Awesome Abundant Amazing Love God has for you and for everyone else
• to subject yourself to the Healing Mercy and Powerful Grace of God
• to Accept yourself as a Fully Adopted & Affirmed Child of God and to Treat Others as Sisters and Brothers in that same Grace

Obedience to God Frees us to be Who we are Created to Be – Children of an Awesome God!

For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.

Obeying God – Not Burdensome? All those laws, 600something in OT alone? In this world with all the opportunities to take advantage of invisible privileges and the exploitation of others?

GodChoseYou

What John wants to tell you is that when you fully understand that YOU are CHOSEN by God and So IS EVERY ONE ELSE – Completely Loved, Encouraged by Grace, Accepted & Free From the Need for Any Other Affirmation in the World – When YOU Understand that – When YOU Breathe and Live that in Your Life – YOU are Free to Be You!

When we think about parenting – eternal or earthly – we should ask ourselves whether our Obedience training is Teaching us a Blind Compliance in Another’s Will for our Lives or Are We Being Encouraged or Encouraging our Children to Be Who we or They Are Created to Be?
Are we Growing faith to Conquer the Exploitive Ways of the World – Trust in the Truth that we Don’t have to Try to Be Somebody else. Friends, we are Created Beautiful – for beauty beholds imperfection and celebrates it without constraint.

Beauty

Our Consumer Oriented Culture is Based on Marketing Products for Profit that Make us Feel or Think We are Beautiful – Beauty that is Defined by Fashion, Body Mass Index, Health, Abilities, Wealth, Attention, & Power.

This is especially true for the very women & girls in our society we celebrate today. The Mass Marketed Messages of the Ingredients for Beauty and Acceptance often are Received as a Brew of Shame if She doesn’t Meet up to the Impossible and Fake Standards Used to Coerce Young women to Reject themselves as they Try to be Beautiful.

Teen girls are pressured to have the perfect body, which of course doesn’t exist except in the imagination of Media. Suicide rates for teen girls trying to conform to air-brushed and computer generated images are too high – one is too many.
I found this beautiful video with a strong message for all of the women in our lives that was posted on our Facebook page earlier in the week – Song entitled Try by Colbie Callait.

God Chose YOU just as YOU are! God’s only Desire is for Your worship & Your Love. If anyone else tells You anything less or more they may be Manipulating you. God has no interest in Manipulating you. God wants you to be Free to Be You!
So Come Out! Stop hiding in the dark. Step into the Light of Christ’s love. You are beautiful just as You are and You are God’s child! Amen.

May 10, 2015 Easter VI – Year B COME OUT! Series Part 5 of 6 – Rev. Robert Bushey, Jr. Central Christian Church Bourbonnais, IL

Is the Church Irrelevant?

Recently I had a week of laryngitis which developed late on a Saturday evening. Arriving at church on a Sunday morning with almost no audible voice was interesting to say the least. I have rarely lost my voice completely. Sure, I’ve had my share of colds and sinus infections with sore throats, but this time my voice was gone. And, for me, that is a challenge! My voice is significant in my vocation, family life, and for my conversational personality. By some miracle I was able to squeak through my sermon, one of the best I’ve prepared on the Baptism of Jesus, IMHO expressing a clear understanding of baptism and yet I have to wonder if anyone really heard the word or were folks just distracted by my attempt to speak? I struggled the rest of the day on Sunday as I tried to participate in dialogue only to give up time and time again. I was frustrated by my inability to say what I wanted to say.

Baptism an Act of Stewardship

On Sunday, I tried to proclaim baptism as an act of stewardship, indeed the purest form of Christian stewardship. In baptism we GIVE our whole selves BODY, MIND & SPIRIT in COVENANT or RELATIONSHIP with GOD. When we enter the waters of baptism, we allow all that holds us back from complete commitment to follow Jesus to be washed away as we symbolically die with Christ and are buried with him. In other words, we give up the distractions that claim our attention, such as our addiction to “our stuff.” When we RISE from the waters of baptism, we enter into newness of LIFE in Christ Jesus, indeed abundant and eternal life. We are not made perfect, although baptism is a once-and-done, symbolic act. We are granted the opportunity to give of ourselves freely for the mission and ministry of Christ in the world namely the church and her witness to the good news of Jesus. So, baptism is an act of stewardship, of giving of ourselves for the service and mission of Jesus. Stewardship has been a common theme during worship at Central for the month of January as we invite everyone to make an estimate of your giving for 2013. I was moved by the testimony of one of our most recently baptized youth during the Call to Stewardship on Sunday. Hearing how Central Christian Church has already made a difference in his life, points us to the real purpose of our Christian Stewardship, to transform lives by sharing our gifts of time, abilities and money. Your generosity has made an impact on his life and provided hope for the witness of Central in future generations.

Where Are the Younger People?

Nearly every week recently, I have found an article or news program focusing on the rising number of people who have either left the church or have never been a part of church in their lives. NPR ran a series last week called Losing My Religion. Known as the “nones” or the non-religiously affiliated group, they are mostly younger adults without any upbringing in religion. Some say they represent an entire generation. And, while several factors are always listed for the growth in this particular group and the decline of organized religion as a whole, especially Christianity in the US, a couple factors always get my attention. Researchers say the “nones” often believe the church as an institution has become irrelevant, but many still believe in God. Irrelevancy is the result of the failure of the church to communicate the message of faith in a meaningful way to new generations and cultures of people.  Several service clubs and associations are also seeing declines among younger members. Another factor for many who have left the church has been the unwelcome spirit they encountered in the church, indeed many have been hurt by the church in some way, by some meaningless or negative comment or worse the abusiveness of a member or staff person. Nothing will drive a person away from a church like mean criticism or judgment from another member. The gift of humility allows us to accept and respect another person with their “imperfections” because we understand ourselves as imperfect as well. Healthy relationships in the church and all walks of life begin with humility. And, healthy relationships draw people to the church to belong to something powerful and worthy of their investment of themselves. Just to be clear, humility is not the same as being a victim of another’s abusive behavior.

If the recent surge in articles about the growth of the spiritual-but-not-religious crowd often members of the “nones” tell us anything, it may be that the church has struggled to give a relevant voice to the life affirming, welcoming spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The church has too often been silent where voices of solidarity and justice for the oppressed were needed all the while Christianity was represented publicly and politically by those shouting fear and condemnation for all who are cast out socially, the very people Jesus sought to serve. In other words, the church has talked about loving one another but not actually done it very often. Let’s turn that around, shall we?

{From my minister’s column in the Christian Challenger, January 15, 2013. Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Bourbonnais, IL}

Pastoral Comments for Daniel W. Liddell (1927-2012)

One of Dan Liddell’s favorite hymns was The King of Love my Shepherd Is:

Henry Baker 1868

The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never,
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread’st a table in my sight;
Thy unction grace bestoweth;
And O what transport of delight
From Thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever.

Daniel Liddell (February 8, 1927 – June 14, 2012) 

In this short span of years we define as this life, very few people, should we even be fortunate, will have the kind of impact Daniel Liddell has on numerous persons throughout his earthly sojourn.  Born Daniel Wesley, February 8, 1927 in Chicago, the son of an evangelist preacher, the late Rev. Thomas Liddell and a mother full of hospitality and nurture, Adele Liddell, his early ambitions in life included practicing medicine. Before Dan would pursue his desire to be a physician, he developed his skills as a musician accompanying his father’s singing for evangelistic worship.

Brother to the Rev. PL Liddell, and Jeanne Hansen, Dan answered the call of his nation and served in the US Navy during WWII as a Head Surgical Nurse assisting the Navy’s top neurosurgeon. Dan was one of our heroes, having served from 1941-1945, no doubt helping to save countless wounded service personnel. We owe a debt of gratitude to Dan and all who served and continue to serve our nation.

Although medicine would play a large role in his life, the medical career he dreamed of was not in Dan’s future. Suffering a heart attack during his Medical School training at Michigan State University, Dan’s life soon found a new direction which would guide him for the rest of his life. Being adaptable to his circumstances, Dan could look back at that turn of events with humor, remembering how the commotion of his medical trauma had cancelled the chemistry exam to the great pleasure of the rest of his class.

Building on the musical skills he acquired as a youth, Dan began a lifelong journey of learning, teaching, directing and life changing. Beginning his studies at the first Olivet Nazarene College near Georgetown, IL, Dan moved to the Kankakee-Bourbonnais Area with one of the first truckloads of students after the great Olivet fire and the college’s relocation to ONU’s current location.

After completing his degree in 1950, he pursued his masters degree at the University of IL in Champaign. While he was a student he served the University Place Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the FourSquare Gospel Church. Returning to this area, Dan began work with Olivet and eventually became head of the voice department.

Dan expanded his reach with his talents in radio and on early Television in Chicago. He was proud of his TV Show Favorites with Danny – a live call-in request your favorite hymn and Dan would play and sing your song for you.

The long hours of teaching and performing and commuting took there toll on Dan and he suffered his second heart attack and found himself in the care of Sister Bernadine of St. Mary’s Hospital whom he credited for saving his life.

While he certainly touched the lives of many during his tenure at Olivet, Dan will perhaps be best remembered for his career as the choral director for Kankakee High School. From developing an award winning choir from just 10 students to begin with, to directing musicals, leading two European trips with the People to People program, Dan left a legacy with his high school students and colleagues that stretches across continents and generations.

His former students have remembered him as one of the major influences in their lives (from the Schreffler Funeral Home Guestbook):

  • Dan was her “first voice teacher and made an incredible impact on her life”
  • Mr. Liddell was one of my absolute favorite teachers at Eastridge.
  • we learned not only how to sing in ensemble but to appreciate life and music and to express respect for each other – valuable lessons at a difficult time for most of us in high school in the ’60’s!!!!
  • he helped to form the lives of an entire generation through his love of music
  • What a guiding light Dan Liddell was during those uncertain High School years. Mr Liddell was one of those guiding lights who kept so many, including me, grounded and taught focus and caring for others.
  • There are only a few people outside my immediate family that I can say truly touched, shaped and influenced my life. And Daniel Liddell was one of those few.
  • Your teaching skills were inherent, and your enthusiasm so infectious. You were adored by all (including me), and brought us so much joy. You made us the music makers, the dreamers of dreams…
  • Instilled confidence in you no matter what road you were on.
  • He was a beautiful man and a constant encourager

His passion for music and touching lives reached beyond the high school and graced our community. One of his colleagues said of Dan, this

  • “energizer bunny” served as the vocal music director for many of Kankakee Valley Theatre’s early musicals. Together we moved the audiences of KVT from Civic Auditorium to the stage of Lincoln Cultural Center as we produced MAME to sell-out crowds in 1973. The following years we did, George M, The Music Man, Something’s Afoot, and South Pacific. Dan taught music from his heart and soul! His talent was indeed a gift from God, and the way he used that talent was his gift back to God and all others around him.

Daniel Liddell was a life changer,an  encourager and a champion of the arts for his former students and our community.

While music blessed his life and was in return a blessing for so many more, building relationships to span many years, companionship in life is often the source of strength and support we rely on as we face the challenges of each and every day. Dan’s life was filled with friends, colleagues, caring nieces and nephews, choir members, and parishioners. And for all of these relationships we offer our gratitude this day.

The word Companion is rooted in two ancient words meaning with and bread. So our companions are those with whom we share our bread, a basic and necessary element of our existence.  For more than 50 years, Dan was blessed by the companionship of Ken Bade. Sharing their families, their love for and talents in music, their faith, and their bread, Dan and Ken have been a caring source of strength and support for one another through every turn, struggle, joy, challenge and accomplishment.  And Dan could have not been more blessed to have you, Ken as companion, friend, colleague and partner in music and his life.

Choir Rehearsal at Central 2012

Speaking of sharing Bread. Dan loved to eat, by the way. Hardly a day went by without Dan & Ken breaking bread in the dining room of Blues Café, where they knew everyone, costumer and server alike and you all knew them too. And you their friends and community became an enormous extended family.

Of their partnership in music, one newspaper article compared them to Rogers and Hammerstein.  Our wider community has lost one of member of our dynamic duo of Liddell and Bade.

Dan was a man of deep faith as well and when his teaching career came to a close, he shared his time and his talents with several local congregations, directing church choirs at First Presbyterian Church of Manteno, St. Mark United Methodist Church, helping with the music at Asbury United Methodist Church, and Directing the Choir of Central Christian Church in Bourbonnais where he directed his 180th Chancel Choir rehearsal on Thursday, June 7th.

Dan graced our congregation at Central with his spirited piano playing, his positive attitude, his love of God and Jesus Christ and his ever encouraging and sometimes even demanding style. He was keenly aware of the gifts and graces of any choir he directed and with great enthusiasm was able to motivate his singers to a new level of melody and harmony.

A former pastor of Central said,  What a delight was my friend Dan and what a list of wonderful memories: singing together, sharing in worship at Central Christian, laughing, eating at Blue’s, and being part of his choir, and most of all just enjoying being his friend… his being close as I grieved in personal loss – I first met Dan (and Ken) as an ONU student, oh so many years ago when I was a fledgling singer in Orpheus Choir. There I first admired Dan’s tender spirit, humor, and his beautiful tenor voice that could cling to the tingling high notes… The years have fled quickly, but the love and friendship for my two friends has only grown deeper and more precious. Rev. Dr. Franlkin Garton

And another said, When I think of Dan I remember his unfailing smile, his good humor, his enthusiasm, his love of music, and his desire to enhance that love of music in other people. Rev. Richard Sagarsee

I have been blessed and privileged to be in ministry with Dan and with Ken. Together their unceasing encouragement and care for me has given strength unimaginable. Their patience and adaptability to whatever I brought their way has been amazing. And I was privileged to be with Dan last week as he faced yet another medical challenge. Dan was confident in the Lord and shared his peacefulness with me during our conversations and prayers prior to his surgery last Thursday. It was the graceful way he faced all of life.

Directing the Chancel Choir

“I’ve had the greatest life,” Liddell said contentedly. “Teaching music, if you teach it correctly, you can teach history, languages, mathematics,” he said of his profession.

“So much of success has to do with the work that you are willing to put into it.”
“You can do this, people!”

Paul wrote these words in his second letter to the Corinthians.  Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Amen.