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Sermon "Hands, Feet, Head, Heart" - Marissa Rohrbach

Sermon "Hands, Feet, Head, Heart" - Marissa Rohrbach

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Published by Alan Neale
Sermon preached at The Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia Sunday June 23rd 2013
Sermon preached at The Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia Sunday June 23rd 2013

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: Alan Neale on Jun 25, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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How many of you watch those make-over shows from time to time? You know…the extreme make over ones – or the shows like “What Notto Wear” – where they take someone’s life and totally revamp it fromthe outside? To give someone a new look – a new way of being in the world?Like most other shows of this sort – when something good like thathappens on the outside, in order for the change to really work…for thegoodness to really settle in, something has to happen on the inside.Otherwise, we get those previews at the end of the show that show usa few months from now – and we see that whoever it is has gone backto their old ways.If the change on the inside doesn’t accompany the outside – themakeover doesn’t work.It doesn’t last.At our baptism, we believe we are clothed in Christ.By water and oil, word and sacrament – we put on the clothing of Christ.Our outsides are transformed – so that we can be the hands and feet of  Jesus.It may not look obvious to us – but it’s there. We believe that animportant transformation has begun.So that we can live a different way in the world.But the problem is…if we don’t make the change on the inside, too –the real transformation doesn’t happen.Baptism is a rite of passage – a gateway. It is a moment when we comeface to face with the divine. When Jesus opens the door to us. You still have to walk through.In order to have more than the external appearance of a Christian – inorder to make a real transformation – you have to do the work to makethe internal changes.1
And that work is a process…it continues through our whole life. These texts today are about this transformation. These texts are aboutwhat happens when we give our lives over to Christ. They point to some of the vital work that we have to do – in our heads– and in our hearts – to break the chains – and to really take on theperson of Christ. To not only be the hands and feet—but to learn to be the head andheart.See…in the early church, this transformation that begins at baptismwas a literal, overwhelming thing.Early Christians believed that when they were baptized into the body that their body – their head – their mind – changed dramatically. They believed that they could actually have the mind of Christ livingwithin their own head.Can you imagine seeing the way Jesus sees?Or feeling the way Jesus feels?In our Gospel today – we find Jesus – doing what he does best.He’s breaking the rules.A man, an outcast, falls at Jesus’ feet.He is unclean in every way. He’s a gentile. He’s naked. He lives outsideof town among the dead. And he probably also – just wasn’t clean –from a hygiene perspective.All of those things make him completely untouchable for apracticing Jew.And here he comes, running up. Obviously in need of something.Perhaps startling everyone – maybe even Jesus.And he throws himself at Jesus’ feet.2
We can imagine that this man was utterly alone. That he was ashamedof who he was. And that he felt he had no control over his life.Now in our Gospel text, Jesus’ contemporaries have labeled this“demons.”We don’t talk about demons much in the Episcopal Church – nor do wetalk about demons and the like – much in our own post-modern, overlyscientific, completely un-miraculous, logical world.In this text – these “demons” – have a name and a voice. They alsohave agency – and Jesus grants their request. So, there is a lot tounpack, here – about what was going on for this man – and if you wantto talk about that – I would encourage you to come see me or Alan.But for today – one thing we can see clearly about this text is thatthese “demons” – have a couple of clear consequences.And we already named them. This man lives alone outside of town – he is isolated.And we might imagine that he was ashamed – ashamed because he of where he lived and who he was – because he was unable to follow therules…because he was unable to follow the law.For sure, because other people chained him up outside the city, weknow that they were afraid of him – ashamed of him.And – we might also easily imagine, I think, that he felt overwhelmed. That he felt as if these demons had all the control…as if his life was nothis own.So three simple consequences – isolation, shame, and powerlessness.We all experience these things from time to time, don’t we?And I want to suggest to you this morning that they are theconsequences of our own demons. These are the concrete effects of “demons” – of boundaries.In this case, demons are those things which keep us from community.3

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