A Lutheran Says What?

Sermons and random thoughts on God, the world and the intersection of the two

Our Bodies Remember Sermon on Luke 22 October 30, 2020

This sermon was preached on Nov. 1, 2020 at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Holladay, UT. It can be viewed on our YouTube channel Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church SLC.

We are in our generosity focus and celebration of our 60th anniversary. “Rooted in our past, embracing our future.” This week’s theme is “Remember.” We also celebrate All Saints Sunday.

Exodus: 16:1-18
Luke 22: 1-23

There have been significant insights gained in the past couple of decades on the link between our brains and our bodies. Most of this information is simply an affirmation of our lived experiences, with the science of hormonal and immune system responses, as well as the activity of our sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. We all know that stress, good and bad, plays a role in our physical well-being and learning how to teach our brains to listen to our bodies is necessary for overall health. Our bodies know a lot, it turns out, perhaps more than our brains but we rarely listen to our bodies until it’s too late. So often in my life, I worked tirelessly on a big paper, project or event only to fall ill immediately following the culmination of that stressor. Our bodies know, and our bodies also remember. Our bodies remember stresses, remember feelings, remember betrayal, remember love. You know that pit in your stomach when you remember an action from several years ago of which you are ashamed? Or those butterflies you get when you think about a beloved?  Sometimes our bodies are the only parts of us that do remember significant events and use bodily responses to get our attention. How many times have we not felt well or “off” only to later remember that it was the anniversary of a beloved’s death, or relationship ending, job loss, or health diagnosis? Conversely, how often have we felt great and then realized it was because we were remembering a time when we were safe, loved and cared for? Our bodies know, and they remember.

We celebrate our 60th anniversary this year at OSLC,  and we gratefully remember the people who had the vision of a community of followers of Jesus in Salt Lake City. Nearly all these people have gone before us, I believe Janice Orme is the only charter member still with us. And while we may not remember all the names, all the faces, we remember the love and faith that they poured into this congregation and this community. We remember, not just with our brains, and hearts, but our bodies. Some of us with the pit of grief in our stomach and some of us breathing easier that these saints had such an astute sense of God’s mission and vision 60 years ago. We know that where we are today, is not by our own doing but due to the love and vision of others and their bodies. This is true in every aspect of our lives. I’m wearing a stole today that celebrates the 50th anniversary of ordination in the Lutheran church of white women, 40th of Black women and 10th of people who are LBGTQIA+. I’m here as a pastor today not because of my own vision, but because of others. The names on this stole are some the faithful women in the Bible who held fast to God’s call and vision and not what the world’s vision for them was because their bodies were female. I remember that they sacrificed much, some their very bodies, for God’s vision and call. Our bodies know and our bodies remember; our bodies know that we are part of a larger whole and remember that we cannot be whole without being together. Our vision, our faith, our calls, bring us into wholeness, and interconnection like puzzle pieces, to God, and perhaps more importantly, with each other.

Jesus exemplifies this truth in his earthly life and death. Jesus points to the power of what our bodies know and remember throughout his ministry. Jesus desires for his disciples, and us, to trust that power of what our bodies know and remember. Our bodies are part the very kingdom of God, they matter and are declared very good. Jesus wants us to watch and listen to his body so that we learn to listen to our own and others. Jesus knew that the time after his death and resurrection for the disciples would be challenging. Their bodies would also be on the line. This faith in following Jesus is not intellectual, it’s incarnational, it’s fleshy, it real and it’s risky. Jesus offered his own body for the work of God to bring eternal life and wholeness for all bodies. Jesus knows that our bodies will need sustenance for this work. So, Jesus, at that last meal with his disciples, gives bread, saying this is my body. It’s broken, it’s divided, it’s sustaining and it’s for you. Eat it, be filled, be reconnected to the body that matters, the body of Christ, to remember. And then drink, for you don’t live by bread alone, drink and know that this is my blood coursing through your veins, through your body. It’s love that runs through you, remember, be reconnected with hope, mercy and forgiveness and then fill others. Your body knows, and your body will remember.

This is why we celebrate the meal, to listen to Jesus’ body and to hear our own. Our bodies know what it is to be loved, to be valued, to be cherished. Our bodies remember every time they are violated. Jesus wants our bodies to only know love, to only remember wholeness, to only remember what it feels like to be in this body of Christ that has no end, that sustains, visions, frees, and hopes. This remembering that Jesus offers in this supper, this reconnection, gives us strength as we go out into the world.

We remember and give thanks on this All Saints Sunday, that we are never alone, we are connected and cared for by the people who have come before us, surround us and are yet to come. We are heard and filled by Jesus’ body, not for our own sake but for people who will come after us, in the next 60 years. People who will be very different, worship differently, live differently, dress differently but who’s bodies are loved all the same by Jesus. Their bodies will know and remember that they were thought of and loved by us today.

Our bodies know and our bodies remember. We remember that we are loved by God, and we are God’s love in the world. Amen.


All Saints and Airports November 3, 2013

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All Saints Sunday was always something of an enigma to me growing up. As a kid, it seemed just as gruesome as Halloween. I mean a day in church where we talk about DEAD people? Yikes! That changed as I became an adult and understood that it was more about recognizing those from our past who are important to us and have revealed something of God in our lives. But the importance of All Saints Day radically changed for me November of 2005. You see, nine months earlier we had buried our beautiful boy, Benjamin. In those nine months we had taken down his crib, removed his clothes from the closet and taken his name off of our insurance. Worse yet, many people stopped saying his name. His name almost felt taboo. But then in late October, one of our pastors talked to me at work (I was the preschool director at our church) about the fact that on the first Sunday in November, Benjamin’s name would be read out loud in worship and a candle lit for him. I hadn’t realized until that moment how much I longed to hear his name said out loud and to see his name in print. It validated for me that he hadn’t been a 16 month figment of my imagination and that my love was still real, my grief was still real and the impact he had on me was and is still real. Ben still mattered.

Ben mattered not just because of his life that was now in the past but because of how he was shaping my present and would impact my future and so the future of people around me. Ben shaped me into the mother, wife, pastor, friend and child of God that I am and will be. Who I am hopefully matters for people around me and will ripple into their lives and the lives of others. The hallmark of Ben’s short life, even if no one ever remembers his name, is that the love of God shown through him, to me, to others and will continue to do so into the future.

As I write this blog post today, I am sitting in a restaurant with a bunch of strangers at Denver International Airport munching on shrimp ceviche, sipping a glass of Malbec (I highly recommend both) and preparing to fly to Dallas for the funeral of my grandmother on Tuesday. My grandma was someone of deep faith, love and forgiveness. She was not perfect: but being a saint of God is not about our actions but God’s action of deep love through the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ actions reveal that God is present in all the real crap of human existence and promises to stand in that gap of hopelessness to offer us abiding hope. God calls us all saints in the in love of Jesus-people set apart to belong to God. But what is radical and amazing about being a saint of God is what God can do through us. For instance the love of God in one woman born 1926, lives on in me, my sister, my cousins, her great grandchildren and the numerous people she touched in her life. As I wrote yesterday, we were created for community, this includes the community that came before us and the community that comes after us. I know that kind on non-linear thinking can make your head hurt (it does mine) but there is also something quieting about knowing that even time cannot limit community. Death cannot limit community. Our own human boundaries cannot limit God’s community of saints, past, present and future.

I think our one greatest reflection of God’s love is our willingness to admit who matters to us, to speak their names, to let them know if we still can and to realize that who should matter is everyone around us whether we actually know them personally or not. All people are God’s saints-God’s people-and so I ask you, who will you let know today or this week that they matter-to you and to God?