We’re talking about Reservoir’s Core Values these days. And I’m so excited to talk about them because I really like these values. Like, this is who we are and what we care about, and how we think it best informs and shapes our faith journeys. Check it out. Here’s what our website says:
Jesus captures our hearts, transforms our lives, and makes all things possible. We want to move closer to Jesus in all aspects of our lives. As we do so, our community is animated by these five core values that guide our pursuit of vibrant, inclusive, healthy faith:
Connection: We value life-giving connections and are committed to pursuing God’s wholeness, love, and leading in every moment of our lives, transcending distinctions between sacred and secular.
Everyone: We seek to welcome people in all their diversity, without condition or exception, to embrace a life connected to Jesus and others.
Action: Love for Jesus compels us to act—to seek justice, show compassion, work for reconciliation, and hope for transformation in joyful engagement with the world.
Freedom: We encourage honest exploration of faith over conformity of belief or behavior, trusting that the Holy Spirit reveals truth to all who seek God.
Humility: We are wholeheartedly committed to pursuing the truth of Jesus through multiple sources, including the Bible, reason, culture, and experience, and we take the posture of learners, recognizing that our understanding of God’s truth continues to unfold.
Y’all, this is so good. For a church to have such words. “transcending distinctions between sacred and secular,” you mean even “worldly” things? Yes it’s all God’s. “Diversity, without condition or exception” For real? Even…? Yes, no matter what. “Trusting the Holy Spirit reveals truth to all who seek God.” Whaaaaat. To all? And “recognizing that our understanding of God’s truth continues to unfold?” WHAAAAAT you mean, we didn’t have it all figured out in 1791? Can you tell, I’m so excited to be unpacking these values together for 5 weeks.
At the center, the starting point is Jesus. Jesus captures our hearts. Jesus transforms our lives. JESUS, makes all things possible. Steve kicked us off in the series last week with Connection.Today, I’m talking about Action. I thought about how l’d talk about action. And I was like wait, This is about ACTION. Not, let’s sit here and listen and talk about action. So, I have a gift for you all today. I am going to preach a very short sermon! Praise God! And hopefully give us some time, a chance to take action in whatever way you might need and feel lead today at the end of service. So short sermon, we’ll end early, and I’ll point you to a few ways that you can use that time to open yourself up to even a small action today.
So let me share just 2 Bible stories and what moved them to Action.
The reality is that the love of Jesus does not compel us all the same. So here are two ways, two different women reacting to the love of Jesus. Listen
Luke 8:42-48 (NIV)
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Luke 13:10-17 (NIV)
10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
Two stories. Two women. The first woman,
in order for her to touch the edge of the Jesus’ cloak had to kneel, out of desperation, hurl over, in humility and get low to barely touch Jesus. She came trembling, and fell at his feet. The second woman,
was already bent over and could not straighten up at all. Jesus sets her free. He liberates her. And she stands up. And while many capture this story with her being bent over, I think as Vernee said a few weeks ago, why do we remember them by their ailments rather than their legacy of healing? I see her more like the strong defiant free woman, like this fearless girl statue.
(“Fearless Girl,” statue by Kristen Visbal on Wall Street)
For both of these women, Jesus says, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” and “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Jesus says go. You are set free. Not only does Jesus heal them but he releases them. Go. You are set free! In the midst of it, the disciples around are asking questions, they are confused, and the synagogue leaders are indignant and like, but what about sabbath!
I thought of ending the service early and moving us to action. And a part of me was a bit like, but what about worship? What is worship? Worship is a reaction to a God who loves us. Worship isn’t just sermon, prayer, and praise songs. The provocative message of Jesus was about liberation, heaven on earth enacted now, not observing the sabbath to do religion better, but seeing the people who are in the midst of us, around us, right now suffering.
Last few weeks we’ve mentioned the Health Equity Team and the things they are working on. And sometimes, as a leader of this church, as a pastor, I do ask myself, hm how do I make the connection. Is it too political to talk about healthcare? Am I focusing on this community organizing to empower them to make a change in their real lives rather than teaching people how to pray? And I realized, I’ve been taught to be that synagogue leader. Sunday worship! Sermon prep! That’s important! But this story has convicted my heart to what breaks Jesus’ heart. Jesus saw her. Do you see her? In fact he calls the bystanders out and say, you untie even your ox or donkey! We don’t even give the crippled people enough dignity of even a dog! We ignore them and go on about our worship in our comfortable beautiful space. Why is that? We don’t see the neighbor that can’t afford a doctor’s visit. We don’t see the kids crippled by the lack of access to good education right here in our neighborhoods. And we’re so concerned with our own lives and our church. What is the church for? It’s to receive the love of God and not keep it for ourselves but open up and release our healing and power to go! Set free! Jesus acts and the woman stands. We act that others may stand.
What brings you to church today? What desperation, what need, or posture brings you to the feet of Jesus today? Hear the words of Jesus, “your faith has saved you.” Receive it. Believe it. Accept it. And then, Go. Go out in peace. Don’t hear this message as, now go get busy. Some of you actually need to stop doing many things. If you need to sit at the feet of Jesus to drive in deep the love of Jesus, do that. Kneel. Hurl over. Take time to reach out to Jesus and say heal me. Because everything we do, it derives from the power of Jesus. So let’s sit with him first before we think of any action. And if you heard him, he says stand up. He says walk.
So I’ll wrap up now and we’ll move into the rest of the service with music, prayer, and communion. And after the service has “ended,” let your worship continue. Here are a few ways I invite you to this time, and I invite you to an action of some sort, but per our other values of freedom and humility, asking yourself what you need and as you feel lead and comfortable.
As I said, Jesus compels us in different ways, and we celebrate diversity, so there’ll be a few different things going on. I invite some of us to hurl over this booklet of spiritual practices. Sit, kneel, lay down if you’d like. These carpets are pretty new and clean. I hope you receive the love of Jesus, just as you are. The band will continue playing and create that space here in this sanctuary.
And then I invite some of you to move out. There’s the Dome, where the Health Equity Team will be huddling about the Nov 4th action coming up. Talk with them. I’ll also be in the Dome to talk about Neighboring and Justice work our church’s doing.
There’s the lobby and the Cafe. Find someone to connect with for just 10-15 minutes and share what brings you to church. Share what Jesus has said to you through these scriptures or through this worship service. Listen and share what compels you to act. Jesus wasn’t about religion or even social action, but about relationships. In the midst of chaos, Jesus called out saying, “who touched me”, he wanted to know her, and In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him. In the face of hurt and pain, Jesus saw her, he called her forward. Last week Steve invited us towards connection. Share your story. Let’s listen to the stories and call each other forward.
And move even further out. I invite you to walk around the church and our campus. Take a few moments to stare at a leaf. Look up and breath. Pray for this place. Walk around and pick up trash. Pray for our church, the people. Pray for Benjamin banneker school. There’s a guide in how to do that in the Spiritual booklet as well.