Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost 9 August 2015
(1 Kings 19:4-8 Psalm 34 Ephesians 4:25-5:2 John 6:35, 41-51)
“The Life of the Baptized!”
In the Disney Pixar film Inside Out, we enter into the mind of an 11-year-old girl, Riley, where five emotions come to life. These five emotions are: Anger, Disgust, Joy, Fear, and Sadness. [Shown on the screen] These five emotions interact with events in the girl’s life, shaping her perceptions of these events, her memory and her actions. Fun and entertaining, at the same time, challenging – done extremely well! Still not sure if it was an adult or a children’s film! Maybe both!
I think the film is right on target when it comes to emotions and how they influence/direct our actions.
So without giving a review of the film; wishing not to spoil it for those who still might go see it; and choosing not to psychologize or even sermonize the film, I do want to use it to lead us into the text from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.
Back to the film: Riley is an 11-year-old girl, frustrated with the recent family move from Minnesota to San Francisco. She is frustrated about many things.
The five emotions (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, Disgust) work from a headquarters inside her brain where they drive decision-making. Disgust decides what Riley eats. Fear wakes her up when she has a nightmare. Anger is pretty much all the anger metaphors rolled into one. He’s hot-headed, yells, throws things, and literally blows up at one point as he loses his head. He’s even colored red, a color people associate with anger.
The film shows us how emotions can work together, partner with each other, but it likewise reminds us how we can become irrational when we are angry, sad, scared, even overjoyed, etc. What’s more, when the emotions cause an decision to be a bit drastic, they discover that, like a lot of emotional decisions, the decision cannot be easily undone.
To Ephesians: In his Letter to the Ephesians, Paul (if it was Paul who write it), is so very clear that God has chosen to save us by grace through faith as a gift to be children of God through Jesus Christ. So that’s his premise given to us in the early chapters.
He says we are part of the Body of Christ; therefore, our lives—the way we live and act, the way we relate to each other, the way speak to each other—it all needs to reflect who we are in Jesus Christ.
So by the time we get to Chapters 4-5 (today’s text), Paul is saying, since we are united in the Body of Christ, that needs to be evident in the way we live, and then he gives some examples.
So he mentions, lying…..anger…..stealing….. the way we talk about each other…..bitterness…..slander…..forgiveness….. helping the needy…..
Far from being a sermon on conflict management, this is a sermon on what it means to enter into a covenant relationship with each other at Baptism, how a faith community of baptized Christians might look to the world.
This is a sermon reminding us and challenging us that in this covenant relationship with Christ, begun at baptism, comes responsibilities, down-to-earth behavior patterns, including love of truth, putting away anger, gossip, rotten talk—and a recognition that because we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism, we no longer live for ourselves but for Christ!
“Do not let anger become an obsession and nursed to the point of becoming a fixation” [vs 26]. Allow your words to become the index of your character. “Put away bitterness and wrath, wrangling and slander and malice” [vs.31]. Make your words a blessing—in conversation, in social intercourse, and in Christian fellowship. And because we have been sealed in Christ, the old self can now be shed, and we can now accept a whole new way of living.
In the final verse we hear in today’s reading that we are “beloved children” called to imitate, or mimic God, if you will. That may sound preposterous.
But it also alerts us that the church’s ministry, witness, and example still have an important, powerful impact on the world. You all have experienced how devastating it is when a church leader is caught in some type of indiscretion. It negatively affects every one of us! And you also know the most powerful words of evangelism, when someone sees a Christian and says: ‘LOOK HOW THEY LOVE EACH OTHER!”
Therefore, while at first glance this passage resembles a list of prescribed behaviors, in actuality it is much more: a description of the converted life of the baptized.
Finally, a film such as Inside Out makes me wonder how we might better foster a better understanding between our emotions and our baptismal life of faith. Amen.
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost 9 August 2015