Sermon: “Ain’t No Need to Worry”

Romans 8:26-39
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 27, 2014
First Christian Church
Mahtomedi, MN

Listen to: Ain’t No Need to Worry | Sermons from FCC- St. Paul.

About fifteen years ago, I was down in Louisiana for my uncle Joe’s 80th birthday party.  I remember sitting in the dining room of Uncle Joe’s house when my cousin, Joe’s oldest son also named Joe and his wife Barabra got out something they had been working on for years: the family geneology.  The two looked through court records and we able to patch together the story of the Sanders family.  They went to county courthouses throughout the South and you see in this family tree how my ancestors made their way to Louisiana from South Carolina.

 

If know American history, then you know why South Carolina is the starting point for me and countless millions of African Americans.  South Carolina was known for its slave markets, where farmers would purchase slaves who came off the boat from their African homes.  I don’t know this for certain, but I can imagine part of the journey of my family from South Carolina to Georgia, then Mississippi and finally Louisiana could have been because my ancestors were bought and sold to different plantations over the years.

 

The look into my past brings up a few conflicting emotions.  There is something cool about seeing all the generations who came before you.  I could see that I belonged to the Sanders family.  But it also brought some sadness and unpleasant feelings because those many of ancestors were treated as nothing more than property; a commodity to be bought and sold.  We were stripped of our heritage and given Christian names including my own last name.  More than likely we were given the name Sanders because it was the name of some plantation owner.

 

Maybe it was because of that earlier history that my mother made sure that I learned about African American history as I grew up.  I remember reading books about famous African Americans, inventors, doctors and the like.  I remember in elementary school that we had days were we had to dress up as a famous person.  In fifth grade and sixth grade I dressed up as the inventor Elijah McCoy and Dr. Charles Drew, the discovery of plasma.  Mom wanted me to remember that African Americans were more than just slaves; we were survivors, acheivers.  I was told I belonged to a people with a rich heritage.

 

Today’s passage in Romans is one where Paul is excited.  He tells the church at Rome about the wonders of belonging to God.  We had a God that prays for us, taking our grunts and sighs to heart.  We have a good that is with us not only in the good times, but in the bad times as well.  When Paul tell the Romans that “ that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God,” he isn’t trying to be glib about tragedy.  Paul is telling us that even when the unthinkable happens,  God is with us.  We belong to God and while evil is around now, it will never, ever have the last word.

 

Paul ends this passage with two wonderful sentences telling the Romans and us that nothing, nothing can separate us from God’s love.  Paul says, “I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.” We are loved by God, no matter what.

 

Paul’s message was one of hope to the Roman church.  No matter how bad it seemed, no matter who you are, no matter how much money you have in the bank, you matter to God; you belong.

 

The notion of belonging to something bigger than you seems even more important than ever.  We live in a time where we are supposed to be liberated from, well everything.  Whereas in the past, there were organizations like the Elks that helped define themselves in community, we are more likely to go it alone.  On the radio recently, there was a segment of a program that was devoted to those parents who are dealing with their children living under their roof again after college.  My husband Daniel wondered why this was a problem.  In our past, family took care of each other, with several generations living under one roof.

 

The role of the church in this individualistic era is to tell people, all people that they belong to God.  There is a world where people need to know that they are loved by God.  That is what this congregation, every congregation is called to do. We are called to welcome people, no matter who they are.

 

This passage in Romans reminds me of baptism.  We know that baptism is about the washing of our sins, but it is also about a promise; that we belong to God. In traditions that do infant baptisms, you might find the baptismal font just as you enter the sanctuary.  It’s a reminder that baptism is what makes us familiy.

 

As I’ve said before, I was the Associate at First Christian Church in Minneapolis.  These days they worship at the Springhouse Ministry Center in Minneapolis.  SpringHouse is the collaboration of three congregations under one roof.  First Christian shares the building with Salem Lutheran and Lyndale United Church of Christ.  The old church building that was Salem’s was gutted and redsigned to include three sanctaries.  In the fellowship space between two sanctuaries is a combination baptistry and baptismal font.  Whenever someone from any of the three congregations is baptized, all the members of all three churches meet and begin their services with this baptism.  It is a powerful reminder that we belong to something, someone bigger than ourselves.

 

This past week, our church was the focus of a special concert given by our own Luke Swanger and his friend Zach Peterson.  About sixty people came to this place to hear wonderful music of piano and violin.  We raised money for the Hope for the Journey Family Shelter in Oakdale.  I think it was a great event.  We were all excited about this because it was a way of telling people we live in this area.  I think people knew as they entered our doors that we welcomed them and showed God’s love in our actions.

 

Church is not about going to a place to give money and see a performance.  No, it is a place where we are reminded that we are loved by God and where we learn how we belong and how we can tell others in word and deed that they are loved by God.

 

I will remember my mom’s dillegence in helping me know that I belonged to a people of survivors.  My ancestors might have been told they belonged to the slavemaster, but they knew who they were and whose they were.

 

The title of this sermon is taken from a 1987 song by the gospel group from Detroit, the Winans.  They sang this song with fellow Detroiter Anita Baker.  The song talks about how trouble will pass and while God isn’t mentioned, we do know that we have someone on our side that will get us through the hard times.  I wanted to share some of the lyrics:

 

Ain’t no need to worrying

What the night is gonna bring

Because it will be all over in the morning

 

Ain’t no need to worrying

What the night is gonna bring

Because it will be all over in the morning

 

There’s a feel of nightfall

When darkness comes

And covers all of the day

 

Sometimes we feel pain

But there are some things

That we can change, just pray

 

Ain’t no need to worrying

What the night is gonna bring

Because it will be all over in the morning

 

You belong.  I belong.  We belong.  Don’t ever forget that.  Thanks be to God. Amen.

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