This is a message that I will offer at a local homeless shelter tomorrow. I appreciate and offer gratitude for any prayers for me and for anyone in attendance, to be receive just what they need.
“John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be. Amen.
‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Who among us:
-has been made fun of for the food eaten?
-has been made fun of for the clothes worn?
-has been made fun of for the way hair looks, is worn or lack there of?
-has been made fun of for beliefs?
-has been made fun of for looking different than anyone else?
-has been asked to leave a home, business, or church for being ourselves?
-has felt like an outcast?
If standing, look around, each of us have been told in some way we are outcasts. The definition in Merriam-Webster dictionary says an outcast is: “one that is cast out or refused acceptance (as by society)
The definition for society or community can be vast. To also recognize it can stretch beyond immediate circles. An immediate circle can be our family of origin or our birth family, maybe adoptive family if we were a baby when adopted. This immediate circle as we grow can expand to our chosen family, which can include fictive kin and also the family we marry into.
Then we branch our communities outward, to include churches or spiritual homes, educational institutions, civic groups, employers, athletic teams and so on. However, I have expanded the way that I see an outcast as anyone who is asked to do something that goes against who we are, that may harm our personal well being, in order to belong to a group.
There will be times we leave those groups, because something inside of us changed and we recognized the harm those false expectations were causing us. The path of being an outcast began for me, not too long after being Baptized in the church I went to throughout my childhood, until my late teens.
It seems like it began to be hard to ignore after I experienced stage fright during a Church Camp program, which as a result of that evening, I still have challenges with stage fright to this day. This was new because I had been in a lot of school and church programs, but other parts of my life changed, with my parents being separated and filing for divorce.
This meant a whole host of changes that were out of my teenage control, which resulted in my acting out from time to time. This all bubbled up at one time standing in front of the whole church during an evening program, I silently began questioning everything I thought was real and a panic filled me with a fear that took over me. I could barely hear anyone else in the program for the ringing in my ears, to know it was my turn. I was startled awake to find myself in the church and not able to see the words on the card in my hand. That day, I was told I messed up the whole program. It was from that day forward, that I felt like I felt I was being pushed out of the pew. I continually changed seats until I did not return.
That was the beginning of being an outcast and living the life of an outcast. I was angry and started to hate everything about church that I could hate. I did as much as I could think of to fulfill their expectations of being an outcast. This however, also is the source that I used to begin being a seeker of spiritual truth.
For years I remembered standing there with a blank card, no words on either side confused as to why they did not hand me the card I wrote down my lines. It was only recently while packing my childhood Bible before moving, that I was able to see the card that betrayed me that night. I was surprised to see the card even had lines on it. In my hand writing I saw the lines, “a new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you that ye also love one another”.
To love one another is the new commandment that Jesus gave us! That was not something I was shown. Maybe they forgot that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega and Jesus fills the whole space in between. That is the love that we are asked to live in, to accept that love for some if us accepting being an outcast with Jesus.
The judgement I experienced came from people who were not ready to accept the new commandment of loving one another. I was able to see that card again last year, because I have accepted the path as an outcast as a gift and those judgmental people did not have power over me any more.
Now I know that I stand with courageous, wise, compassionate and loving outcasts. To know that we decide every day if we want to accept and keep God as a part of our lives and how we participate in the choice.
That acceptance of the mercy of God is what it means to be a Saint. To feel so completely broken open, with healed or healing wounds, that the light of God that we are a part of comes out. That we can stand with fellow outcast knowing how we are loved and how we have been made whole, within the mercy of God. It is in allowing that healing that we can find our spiritual home, starting with knowing we are beloved children of God. To know that, one day our lights shine all together like the reflection of light through a diamond. We are in between the Alpha and the Omega, choosing to accept the grace that God has already given us.
That also as an outcast, we know the feeling of not being wanted, of not being noticed like the sand sitting inside an oyster shell. To allow as a reminder to not forget, that while not being noticed, laying there in the darkness, we are brave enough to allow the the healing presence of Jesus to enter our lives. To also know, that the more we are present within our spiritual homes, the easier it becomes to see the courage, wisdom, compassion and glowing gem that God already knows we all possess. To also remember who we are in the beginning is different than who we are at the end, but in between are endless possibilities of living like Jesus inside the flow of loving-kindness.