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At St. Paul’s: “Our primary mission is to relate to, and minister to people who are living on the edge, who seek God’s will for their lives, struggling to find direction and purpose in a society that can be violent, insensitive and money-grabbing.”  

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July 24 Bulletin

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God Consciousness

Some folks say that things come in groups of three. That holds true

today: in our passage today there are 3 important lessons or themes 

that Jesus gives. The first theme refers to John the Baptist and his 

disciples, because apparently, some of John’s disciples were hanging 

with Jesus’ disciples. And there was some discussion about prophets 

and ministry. This first theme ends with the saying: “wisdom is 

vindicated by her deeds.” The 2nd

prayer where Jesus basically prays thanking God for giving ordinary 

people a step up ahead of sophisticates and know-it-alls. Directly 

after that Jesus launches into a 3rd

find that carrying his yoke will be easy, and the burden is light. 

So we start with wisdom. Jesus, looking at His own people, 

asked: "To what shall I compare these hard-headed people who 

surround me?" And he saw at the moment the children playing 

games in the marketplace. And he said: You are like Children 

playing in the market place. Mimicking adult life; a few of you begin 

to play wedding music on your pipes and cry out to others, "Let's 

play 'wedding' and dance and make merry." The others shout 

back, "No. We don't want to dance today." So the first group of 

kids, still wanting to play, begins to play funeral music and shout 

back, "Well, let's play 'funeral'." "No. We don't feel like acting sad."

Now for explanation, I want you to recall the reading from last week. 

If I may refresh your memory, Jesus, in Matthew 10 says: 40 “Whoever 

welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 

41 Whoever welcomes a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes 

a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a 

 theme comes to us in the form of a 

 teaching about how disciples will 

cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, 

none of these will lose their reward.”

Jesus is directing his remarks towards his critics. Some of the critics 

are in a group of John’s disciples. It seems that these disciples 

from were less than obedient, mindlessly imitating others, playfully 

romping about. They bounce from selfish activity to selfish activity 

without a thought of what others might think or feel. Like kids 

playing in the marketplace, they are aimless, self serving and have 

no thought of the future. Jesus laid out the idea that the Gospel 

message is a two pronged approach. Think on John. . . . he removed 

himself from society. And think on Jesus. . . . Jesus did not condemn 

John's approach, and John did not condemn Jesus' approach. They 

supported each other. 

Look at both John the Prophet, the one wants personal commitment, 

and Jesus the social reformer, who wants to build up society by 

creating disciples. We see a two-fold method: Remove yourself, look 

at yourself, take time to really come to terms with your own strengths 

and weaknesses; recharge those batteries. Fast, pray, reflect on 

Scriptures, take long walks, commune with creation. And when you 

come back, engage with people. Listen to them; meet them where 

they live, eat, drink, socialize. Jesus taught this lesson in such a way 

as to remove any judgmental spirit. 

And the genius of this two pronged approach, the wisdom of whwat 

Jesus presents would be proved by the results, and, that is why 

we have the saying: “the proof is in the pudding;” or “actions speak 

louder than words.” A saying attributed to St. Francis, I think, goes 

like this: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use 

words.” So Jesus and John are effective trainers of disciples and 

evangelists, and Jesus slams the critics by calling them immature.

The second theme I want to hold up today is Jesus when he further 

needles the naysayers, saying: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. 

You’ve concealed your ways from these sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled out 

your lessons clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.”

And so today we pray in the same way: We thank you God, we trust 

you and we pray that you continue to guide us. We ask you to help us 

stay focused; that you help us be good caretakers of our own spirits, 

and that, in turn we have the strength, courage and energy to offer 

our spirits to you to use for the building up of your kingdom. And we 

know that your people need healing, wholeness, direction and we ask 

for your grace to help us. Amen. That’s the 2nd

Now for the third part, but first, I want to tell you a story: Two 

homeless men are walking along and both look down and find a $10 

bill. The one immediately goes and buys some roll-up tobacco, a 

40 oz. beer and some chips. He falls asleep under a tree in the park 

and later, walks all night long, gets a $250 ticket from the RTA police 

for sneaking onto the rapid transit and is exhausted the next day. 

He comes over and sleeps on the couch in the drop in center. The 

other man saves his $10 bill, and later, when he is invited to a friend’s 

house on the East side, he has bus fair and then is able to buy a 

bottle of wine and some bread as a gift for them. His friends fix him 


a great dinner, they laugh and enjoy each others’ company until late 

at night and he spends the night on the couch. He wakes up the next 

morning, with a good attitude, and the temp service finds him a job.

The third theme of this passage has to do with giving our burdens 

to the Lord. There is a certain attitude of gratitude that comes when 

we give up and give in to the faith journey. When accepting the call 

to follow him, we take on the yoke -- Jesus uses the "yoke" as a metaphor for 

discipleship, but today, most of us have never seen, let alone felt, a yoke. Still, we get 

the idea, that it's something hard and heavy and burdensome, and Jesus is up-ending our 

perception (as usual) by calling his yoke "easy," and his burden "light." There's an even 

more helpful way for us to hear his words: David Holwerda tells us that a yoke "both 

restrains and enables. It is simultaneously a burden and a possibility. 

Take on the yoke of righteousness; I can tell right away when a 

person has given up their life of self service and given in to God . . . 

they have the feeling that permeates their thinking, they have a new 

consciousness, a deep understanding that God is working in their 


Jesus brings in this strange saying . . . why? Why now? Because 

he is calling all the disciples, from John’s camp as well as his own, 

to take on the burden, put on the yoke of a follower. And once they 

have made the commitment, it all changes, life changes, life becomes 

easier, fuller, the burdens easier to carry and the anxiety and stress 

are relieved by community working and partnering together. 

After over 20 years as a church leader, community organizer 

and peace builder, I can honestly say that the group gets a 

consciousness. A church community gets a personality, so to speak, 

which defines that membership. It is the same for an individual. A 

person is defined by the company they keep. 

God is real to us ONLY because we have accepted it into our 

consciousness. In a collection of daily meditations on the lectionary 

scriptures called A Guide to Prayer, Rueben P. Job and Norman 

Shawchuck, wrote this: God is closer to our minds every moment 

than our own thoughts. God is nearer to our hearts than our own 

feelings. God is more intimate with our wills than our most vigorous 

decisions. If we are not aware of God, it is not because God is not 

with us. It is, in part, because our consciousness is so under the 

influence of other interests.

Did you ever encounter, randomly, a friend on the street who was so 

pre-occupied with her cell phone, or so absorbed in thought that she 

had not been conscious of you, until you almost collided? This is how 

God experiences the human species. It is a persistent failure of the 

un-emancipated consciousness. We can be so preoccupied by lesser 

realities that we do not sense the presence of the divine Reality. And, 

something dramatic usually has to happen to end that absorption in 

other affairs, so that we can turn its attention to God.

Dramatic, as in: A person may encounter God in a crisis, that, as 

we say, "brings one to one's senses." It takes a Death, a disaster, 

a sickness, the collapse of friendship, for the tyranny or slavery or 

addiction; something has to be freed so that our consciousness is 

released for the greater awareness. Having a life altering experience.

Again, in the Guide to Prayer it says: “What makes life splendid is 

the constant awareness of God. What transforms the spirit into God's 

likeness is intimate fellowship with God. I believe we can create the 

new habit of daily communing with God. no longer running from game 

to game. No longer sitting on the sidelines watching the disciples. 

We can begin new habits that emancipate our consciousness and 

free our spirits so that we sense the divine reality which is God, 

and we ask God to carry some of the burden and stress of our daily 

activities, and in essence become closer and closer to the reality, the 

consciousness, the fact of our being one with our God. 

So let us pray for our friends who find the $10 that their 

consciousness of God increases, especially the one who cannot get 

the proper rest required for a good days work. 

And do we need to take this same advice Jesus is giving in this 

current age of information overload and super technology. Now, as 

then, knowledge is plentiful, but wisdom is scarce. Wisdom will be 

evident our actions. Coming to church we learn what is right and true 

and noble and just. Leaving church, we enter the world to do what 

is right and true and noble and just in the world. Let us pray for the 

consciousness of God, for the continued strength and courage to live 

up to the standards Jesus sets for us and for the Holy Spirit to be 

evident in all that we say and do.