Sermons

Walking in God’s Shadow; Guest Speaker: Dr. L.J. Ingram, Open and Affirming Sunday, June 24, 2018

Good Morning Church!

In my heart, I believe “no matter who you are, no matter where you are, we are One by way of
God’s Spirit.” In this, I suggest all who are here this morning are part of God’s Church.
Therefore, I say again, “Good Morning Church!”

Before I proceed, I want to provide the members of Bethesda UCC a special thank you. I thank
you for providing hundreds of wildflower seed packets which have been distributed to visitors at
our regional PRIDE events. Each packet offers not only information on the packet contents, each
packet offers an Open and Affirming message along with a weblink which enables a person to
locate a UCC Open and Affirming congregation.

I’ve been asked to speak this morning for Open and Affirming Sunday. I confess, this will be a
difficult delivery for me. For while I am here in a state of wellness with each of you, my heart
aches as I know families are being mistreated within our country.

Recognizing this darkness, I call upon God to provide me words this morning which may help us
maintain our Faith, Hope and Love. Most of all, I pray, “God, have me and do with me as you
will. As I go on from here, may I do your Will rather than my will. May I not be silent, may I be
your instrument for your Justice and your Peace. Amen.”

[Pause] This morning, I offer a question. You may consider this question in silence. You can meditate
upon the question as I talk. And, you can ask yourself this question tomorrow morning as you
wake up.
“Who are you when you are not being someone for someone else?”
Again, “Who are you when you are not being someone for someone else?”
To help answer this question, I will share two descriptions on humanity’s creation.

[Pause] Humans evolved through an “evolutionary process that led to the emergence of anatomically
modern humans, beginning with the evolutionary history of primates – in particular genus Homo
– leading to the emergence of Homo sapiens.”

Here’s another description: “Then God said, “Let us make humanity in our image to resemble
us… .” (Genesis 1:26, Common English Bible).

As one who appreciates the application of science and Bible lessons, I propose both statements
are correct. You see, as I’ve lived my life studying and applying scientific principles, I accept
science. Then, when I reflect upon my very existence, incorporating my thoughts, feelings, and
personal experiences; I accept the Spiritual principles I learn from my Bible studies. From this
collection, I walk in Faith and I Rejoice.

I Rejoice because in my walk, I am able to experience God.

Friends, my testimony to you is this, as for many of us, my life has been a rollercoaster ride.
What has always kept me going is my Faith.
Where do I find the Source for my Faith?

For me, an answer is provided in Romans 1:19-20.
[as presented in “The Message” translation.] “… the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long
and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their
eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of [God’s] Divine being.”
Repeating…, “By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always
been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see…”

I want to pause again and consider my original question.
“Who am I when I am not being someone for someone else?”
My preferred answer is simple, “I am a child of God.” For most people, this truth is something
their eyes cannot see.

Expanding upon this, I believe we each are here in body via an evolutionary process. And, we
are united as One because the great Divine created us to resemble God. We were created in
God’s Shadow. We were created in God’s Likeness. We were created with a Spirit like God’s;
and, as Jesus Lived, we are called to reflect this Spirit.

In recognition of Open and Affirming Sunday, I invite you to explore with me the factual
variations of God’s creation of our being. First, we may consider some physical attributes, such
as hair color: black, brown, auburn, blonde, and gray; skin color: black, brown, white; height:
short, average, tall; and how the doctor defined us at birth: female, male, or intersex. Intersex?
[“Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a
sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. Considering
this condition, you may find interest in the following statistic: there is 1 intersex birth in every
1,000 births.]

Moving beyond these anatomical attributes, we may consider clothing variations; such as casual,
formal, western, feminine, masculine, and androgynous. Androgynous? [“Androgynous”, refers
to one’s appearance being partly male and partly female.]

Ahhh…. with so many variations in the external attributes of a person, we should consider the
Spirit of humanity; such as the nature of the person we are attracted to or simply our being the
person we are. Yes, we are not attracted to the same person nor the same type of person. We are
multiple variations, resembling God.

“Who am I when I am not being someone for someone else?”

For me, some people would prefer I say something like a resume: I am a woman standing at a
height of 5’4” with graying hair. I prefer to dress casual. And, I am married to another woman.
My preferred answer: “I’m a child of God.”

Even better, because God created us in God’s Image, I suggest God’s Spirit is within each of us.
And, if God’s Spirit is within each of you, how should I interact with you?

Here’s how the latter question was presented to Jesus as reported by Matthew 25:44-45 (New
International Version)
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing
clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not
do for me.’

As I profess, I have experienced God. Having experienced God, how do I choose to live my
Faith for God?
My encouragement for good living comes from
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Thanks be to God.
Amen