Sermon Archive

You might recognize the name Elizabeth Gilbert as the author of the bestselling novel Eat, Pray, Love.  Along with her fiction writing, Gilbert also writes and speaks about creativity – how it works and how it sometimes doesn’t work.  She tells stories about her own experiences with writer’s block and the fear of failure that can stop creativity dead in its tracks.

Do You Want a Reboot?

*Note click here for the House of Chu Mac and Cheese Recipe 

The 1984 James Cameron film Terminator was a filmatic paradigm shift in the Science Fiction genre.   This action film featured time travel, a relentless killer robot and plenty of chase scenes.  It also launched the acting career of former Mr. Universe, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  


Last Wednesday, this paradigm shifting franchise got a reboot.  Technically, Terminator: Genisys is what is known as a RetCon or Retroactive Continuity


[This] is the alteration of previously established facts in the continuity of a fictional work.

There are various motivations for retconning. The changes may occur to accommodate sequels or derivative works, allowing newer authors or creators to revise the diegetic (in-story) history to include a course of events that would not have been possible in the story's original continuity. Retcons allow for authors to reintroduce popular characters and resolve errors in chronology.


Since we have been journeying through the book of Mark the smallest and earliest of our gospels it may be helpful to imagine Mark as the original narrative of Jesus’  life and Matthew, Luke and John as Retroactive Continuity works.  Each of these gospels reboot the story of Mark in ways that help us learn more about our savior and his mission.


Terminator: Genisys, is a reboot of the original Terminator and stands to relaunch this beloved narrative to a whole new generation of SciFi fans.  Moreover, this new film stands to reboot the acting career of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  I haven’t seen the movie yet, Schwarzenegger’s character had far more lines in the trailer that he did in the first film.  


Both the original and the Reboot tell the story of a future war between humanity and an Artificial Intelligence known as SkyNet (Google).  In both of these films the future SkyNet is about to fall to the humans, when the hatch a plan to reboot their world by sending a Terminator Robot back in time to assassinate Sarah Connor the mother of the John Connor who in the future leads the rebellion of humans to victory over the SkyNet.  Discovering this reboot scheme future John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to save his mother from the Terminator.  


That’s the basic premise and from the trailer of the film one can see that Terminator: Genisys has tells the familiar story with some significant plot twists.  But hey who doesn’t like a reboot from time to time.  


I mean wouldn’t we all like a fresh start, or a do over.  If we could change that something about ourselves wouldn’t we jump at the chance? Do you want a reboot?


The UUMC staff would giggle at this statement. We have been having some trouble with the server in the office.  Access to our Church Data Management System has required no less than three reboots of the server this week.  I for one am not looking forward to overhauling the server.


I imagine there are some die hard Terminator nerds who aren’t looking forward to the reboot of this film too.  


What if Jesus home synagogue in Nazareth wasn’t so excited about a reboot of their faith?


Mark doesn’t tell us what Jesus’ scripture text was when he preaches at his home church.  Other RetCon Gospels tell us it was from Isaiah.  What if Jesus used Isaiah 43: 18-19 as the text.


Is. 43:18     Do not remember the former things,

        or consider the things of old.

19     I am about to do a new thing;

        now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

    I will make a way in the wilderness

        and rivers in the desert.


Certainly those who were not so excited about the prospect of a reboot of their tried and true faith would say something like.


3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?”


Those less than excited about a spiritual reboot had a real perception problem.  They desired the former things, they only wished to consider the things of old and this prevented them from perceiving what God was doing.


The former things, and the things of old were like spiritual mac-and-cheese that satisfies in a way that no new recipe can replace.   


In his book the Idolatry of God, Peter Rollins puts it:

What we see taking place in the church today is the reduction of God to an Idol, that is, to a thing that will satisfy us and fill the gap we feel in our hearts. In thinking of God in this way, the church ends up mimicking every other industry by claiming that they can take away the sense of loss that marks our life. …By misunderstanding the nature of faith, they turn the good news of Christianity into the bad news of Idol worship.


By in large faith communities fail to perceive what God is doing when they idolize the former things. Fashion the way we have always done it into a god.  When that is the case the faith communities will do anything to defend the idol.


Barbara Brown Taylor puts it this way.  

“As a general rule, I would say that human beings never behave more badly toward one another than when they believe they are protecting God.”

Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith

On account of this faith communities perception problem… Jesus could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.  And Jesus was amazed at their unbelief.


Jesus seemed to keep this experience of the problem of perception in mind when he sent out the disciples.  Perhaps the humanity of Jesus helped him to understand the short sightedness of humanity when it came to perceiving the new things that God was doing.  Even those who embraced the reboot that the messiah offers can be quickly satisfied with their own perspective of God.  And then jump to the conclusion that this perception is the only perception.


Again Barbara Brown Taylor writes.

“The problem is, many of the people in need of saving are in churches, and at least part of what they need saving from is the idea that God sees the world the same way they do.”

Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith


As Jesus send out the twelve to save he offers them a warning against forcing their point of view on those who were not ready to welcome them.  


11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”


The Good News of Jesus Christ is rebooted in the life of every Christian.  This is the way each of us and all of us collectively become the living word of God or scripture come to life.  


In seminary we are warned to interpret the scriptures as a whole or in their entirety.  Not to pick and choose and discard difficult passages of scripture, for the ones that are easier or more satisfying to us.  


If the Good News of Jesus Christ is rebooted in the life of every Christian and followers of the word of God each become a living part of scripture then it’s important for Christians to be open to different christian perspectives.  Its fine to be skeptical, but we must always be charitable.  


So as we gather around this table of God’s Word.  This table of Christ's death and resurrection let us remember that God continues to work new ways of resurrection for each of us.  Reaching down and pulling us up from the graves that we dig for ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance, and our idolatry.  And God keeps loving  us back to life over and over.

Do you want a reboot?  If so this table is for you.

“It happens to all of us," I concluded that Easter Sunday morning. "God simply keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the graves we dig for ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance, and our addictions. And God keeps loving us back to life over and over.”

Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint