Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What's On Your Rear End?

NOTE: This is the message I delivered at Black Mountain Unitarian Universalist fellowship on Sunday, October 6, 2013. I was given the opportunity to step out of the pulpit and to use PowerPoint as well as create experiential worship! I am an ecumenical Presbyterian!

Micah 6:8   What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. (NRSV)

Matthew 22:39    And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. (NIV)

Ever since we moved to Asheville in 2009, I have noticed there are more cars with  
      bumper stickers than anyplace else I’ve ever lived or visited! I have probably over 300  

           bumper sticker photos! In the Mountain XPRESS 2013 Best of WNC there was a 
                category for Best Bumper Sticker! Keep Asheville Weird was not only #1 but
                      has Hall of Fame status!

Two bumper stickers I’d love to not only see on every car but see every car driver practice:
              Hangup and Drive
                     TXT :(    Don’t Text and Drive.

People in Asheville do not take themselves too seriously. Evidence:
              Asheville - The Sweet Cesspool of Sin
                    Welcome to Asheville! Now Go Home!
                             My comedy channel? Fox News.
                                   My News Source? Comedy Central

There are the thought-provoking bumper stickers.
              What good is a strong leader if he is going the wrong direction?
                     If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t more people happy?

There are health related bumper stickers like...
               When people suck the life out of you,
                     wouldn’t it be nice if they took some fat too?
                           Sweat is fat crying.

Of course there are political bumper stickers beyond the typical political office seeker. A couple of my favorites:
               Darn the Gov’t
                     I love my country...but I think we should start seeing other people.
                            Under Republicans, Man Exploits Man.
                                  Under Democrats, It’s Just the Opposite.

Then there are the “faith” bumper stickers. A few favorites include...
               I’m For The Separation of Church and Hate
                   Jesus Loves You, But I’m His Favorite!
                           Even people who believe everything is predestined
                                 look before crossing the street!
                                     Prays Well With Others
(shows the symbols for Christianity,
                                          Judaism, Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh)

There are the compassionate bumper stickers.
          Some people are gay. Get over it.
                  I’m Straight But I’m Not Narrow.
                         Homophobia is so gay.

Do you have a problem with these bumper stickers? My core values and beliefs are
        rooted in Micah 6:8. What does the Lord require of you? To love kindness. To seek
             justice. And to walk humbly with the Lord your God. The God I know doesn’t
                   make mistakes. On the other hand, I make plenty!

The Catholic Church had a very hard time acknowledging a mistake. It took them nearly
        600 years to finally acknowledge Galileo was correct. The earth was not the center
             of the universe as the Psalmist had written. The sun is at the center of our
                   universe! God knew that! There is a bumper sticker for that...
                            The Truth Will Set You Free...But First It Will Piss You Off!

Perhaps the greater challenge is how well do I love myself? Do I still love myself just as
        I am...warts, scars, imperfections...because if not, I fail at the second greatest
            commandment...Love your neighbor as yourself. My neighbor...the person who
                    doesn’t look like me, who has that funny accent, who has a different
                           socially economic background, who believes in a different religion, 

                                 different politics, different sexual orientation...

One of the most powerful bumper stickers for me is...
       LOVE > FEAR

I believe the opposite of love is not hate or indifference, but fear. I believe fear is the evil  
       one. My anger, my ugly conversations, my finger pointing, my phantom rules, my    
             shame...are rooted in fear. The abuses that we do to others and
                     ourselves...drugs, addictions, credit card debt, over eating...rooted in fear. It's the

                           fear of not being worthy, the fear of not being good enough, the fear of not                                              being accepted, the fear of being less than, the fear of not being valued, 
                                         the fear of pain, misery and suffering, the fear of not being, the fear                                                        of  being.

I am going to ask you all to stand if you are able. I would like you to find two other
        people you know the least. Please introduce your selves. I’d like each person to
              answer the following question: Why is it important for me to be here?

(After about three minutes, I ask, “What surprised you?” Feedback from the  

Please find two other people you know the least. Again, introduce yourselves. The
       question I’d like for all to answer: What is the gift that you bring to this

After about three minutes, I ask, “What surprised you?” (Feedback from the  
       participants.) “What do you know now that you didn’t know a few minutes ago?
             Perhaps we would all be better off with this bumper sticker....
                    Less Judgment. More Curiosity

(Picture appears on the screen of our family.)

What’s wrong with this picture? Terri and I have been married for over 33 years. We’ve
       been blessed with great work, wonderful homes, great travel. Brett is our son. He
             had a very successful high school varsity soccer career. He was goalkeeper all
                     four years and co-captain his junior and senior year. He graduated from
                              Gardner-Webb University in the 2012 and is a U.S. Marine stationed
                                     at Camp Pendleton, California.

Erin is our daughter. She was a high school valedictorian. She has two college degrees
      and currently works in New York City at a three-star Michelin restaurant which
            also rated #5 in the top 100 restaurants in the world!

What’s wrong with this picture? Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with this
      picture! Oh yeah...Erin is gay!

They say being gay is wrong! Who are they?
      They say being gay is not normal! Who are they?
            They say being gay should not entitle you to the same benefits and rights as
                  “normal” people! Who are they? Who are they to say what is normal?

I can tell you that Erin did not choose to be gay. She struggled with it. As she told her
      mother and me, “Life is hard enough. Why choose to be this way? God just wired
            me differently!” God doesn’t make mistakes, but I do. Do you?

I leave you with one last bumper sticker...

Seriously, what is on your rear end?