“You are loved unconditionally. You will never be more loved than you are today,” the Rev. Janet Broderick said. To acknowledge this love is to take the first step in purification before taking action.
She preached at the 9:15 a.m. EDT Thursday, July 30, morning devotional service on the CHQ Assembly Video Platform.
Her homily title was “Purification before Action.” The aphorism for the day came from Lily Tomlin: “Remember, we are all in this alone.” The scripture text was Matthew 12:11-13 (NRSV) —
“He said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.’ Then he said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and it was restored, as sound as the other.”
“The Pharisees wanted to constrain Jesus, but he would not be constrained,” said Broderick.
She asked what do we need to do ministry? Many people just jump in because they want to heal the world. But Jesus’ disciples discovered some things that need to be in place in order to do good.
“If these things are not in place, we want affirmation that we are doing good — and if we don’t get it, we are wounded,” she said. “The Civil Rights Movement said, ‘purification before direct action.’”
Knowing that you are unconditionally loved is the first step. Broderick told the congregation “you don’t need to have achieved a level of goodness. It all happens now. God loves you unconditionally.”
The next step is to remember that God is with you all the time. To know that you are never alone should allay your fear and give you courage.
Third, you will make mistakes, “but Jesus is there to pull you out,” she said. “That is the meaning of the scripture — if you can pull a lamb out of a well on the Sabbath because it is valuable, you are so much more valuable and you have help.”
Remember that you don’t have to be perfect. “In life there is a need for change, pruning and learning,” Broderick said. “Sometimes I think, ‘I am too old to learn that lesson,’ but in humility, we should always be ready to learn.”
The next step is to remember that your sins are forgiven. “If you live in the past, you can’t move forward. Repeat with me: ‘My sins are entirely forgiven,’” she said.
God is not mad at you, Broderick continued. “We tend to think of God as a judge, but that is not the nature of God. God loves you, and is not mad at you.”
Many people feel deeply rejected by God and believe they feel God’s wrath. She said, “We learn from Jesus that God is love.”
She continued, “There is a difference between condemnation and conviction. If you are convicted, you are ready to learn the varieties of ways to grow. When you are condemned, you feel trapped with no way out. That is the ‘my way or the highway’ we are hearing so much about these days.”
Broderick concluded the sermon saying, “I hope you will walk with me and so many others to follow God’s leading. Know that God loves you. Pray, read scripture, listen for the still, small voice. God will never love you more than at this minute, and God is madly in love with you.”
The Rev. John Morgan, pastor of Williamsburg Presbyterian Church in Williamsburg, Virginia, presided from the Hall of Christ. Joshua Stafford, interim organist for Chautauqua Institution, played the Tallman Tracker Organ. Meredith Smietana, a student in the Chautauqua School of Music Voice Program, served as vocal soloist. The organ prelude, performed by Stafford, was “Petit Canon,” by Nadia Boulanger. Smietana sang the hymn, “There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy.” The anthem was “Improvisation,” by Nadia Boulanger. Stafford played “Prélude,” by Nadia Boulanger, for the postlude. This program is made possible by the Gladys R. Brasted and Adair Brasted Gould Memorial Chaplaincy.