Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Peace or Sword? A Sermon from Bishop Mary Ann Swenson

As I struggle again this time around the lectionary with Jesus' words, "I come not to bring peace, but a sword," I point you to my favorite-ever sermon on this text, from General Conference 2000, preached by Bishop Mary Ann Swenson. I just re-read it, and I can still exactly visualize her miming swinging a sword. Still powerful. Still inspiring! (The picture of Bishop Swenson is from this General Conference.)

Short excerpt:
"Jesus comes with a sword. The sword cuts to purpose, to results. And I believe that Jesus is extremely impatient for the results. He is impatient for the results because he is passionate about people. It is a divine, consuming love that cuts to the results. It’s that impatience that shows when he says, “Those who put their hand to the plow and look back aren’t fit for the kingdom.” It’s that awareness he has that when we look away from our purpose, we are lost. And he says, “Let the dead bury the dead.” It is a radical leadership that God calls us to within the church and in the world."
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