Oregon State has revealed new uniforms with a revamped logo featuring the school’s beaver mascot. I’ve printed their logo on the bulletin front. Take a look at the before and after beaver.
The new beaver looks scarier than the old beaver, but I don’t know about you but I’m not scared of any beavers.
And, for the record, I’m not scared of any pelicans. Did you hear that the New Orleans Hornets changed their name to the New Orleans Pelicans?
I’d much rather deal with a pelican than a hornet.
Of course, I shouldn’t say anything. UNC’s mascot is a ram. Sheep aren’t exactly daunting either.
When I was at UNC back during the time of Moses – well, it was a long time ago, 1976 to 80 to be precise, the Tar Heels mascot looked like it had just gotten off a Disney ride. People complained and the happy ram became an angry ram.
I’m not scared of angry rams either.
My guess is you, like me, have typically thought of Jesus in terms of gentleness, but in our scripture lesson today, Matthew 18:1-6, Jesus is not gentle at all. Unlike beavers, pelicans and sheep, this Jesus seems a bit ferocious. Listen.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Sermon: A Ferocious Love
Today is Mother’s Day and I want to make sure all Wedgewood mothers are happy. Join me again in saying Happy Mother’s Day! Better to say it too much than not enough because if mama ain’t happy, ain’t _______ , right, ain’t nobody happy.
I’m sure you know, or if your mother is dead, I’m sure you knew, how to make your mother unhappy.
Two things made my mother unhappy. She didn’t like kitchen cabinet doors to be left open. So every time before I headed back to college I opened up every kitchen cabinet. Yes, I did.
Second thing that made my mother unhappy was not to get a daily email from her children. You could call her on the phone but a telephone call didn’t count. To quote her, “Why did you get me to spend so much money on a computer if you weren’t going to email me?”
There’s nothing like a mother’s love! Amen!
One thing I’ve noticed about most mothers and their love is that if need be – if need be, their love can be ferocious love.
A mother’s love is like the love of God, a God which the biblical traditions give witness to has a ferocious love. It was a ferocious love that sets slaves in Egypt free. It was a ferocious love that sent Jonah, unwilling Jonah, to the Ninevites. It was a ferocious love that made Jesus defend a woman others wanted to stone. It was a ferocious love that was inscribed in the words of Jesus: ‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Now you know and I know there are some depictions in the Bible about God which are not true. God, in places, comes off a tad psychotic and full of wrongful wrath. But stay with me now those of you who have turned off by churches preaching a hateful God. Stay with me. There is also in the Bible a wrathful God that is appropriately wrathful.
Is there anybody in attendance today who was not wrathful last week?
Ariel Castro, a former school-bus driver, kidnapped and raped three women in his home for a decade. Ms. Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were taken to Mr. Castro’s home and chained in the basement. Although the chains were later removed and they moved upstairs, they were all forced to have sex with Mr. Castro. Ms. Knight told police she had become pregnant five times, with Mr. Castro starving her and punching her in the stomach each time until she miscarried.
As a liberal Christian, I have major difficulty with the wrathful God depicted in parts of the Old Testament and the New Testament, but I’m starting to see that wrath, in certain instances, has a proper role in the heart of a Christian and in one’s theology, one’s thinking about God. Let me quickly add, that such a practice of wrath requires “a thousand footnotes and caveats”. Any theology that leaves the theologizer all good and “the other” all bad is to be avoided, but a liberal Christianity that does not address inhumane humanity is not sufficient either. The love God has for all of God’s children is a ferocious love, a love that does not tolerate the mistreatment of any of God’s children.
Have you been mistreated?
Do you understand what happened in God’s heart when you were mistreated?
In the book Knowing Jesse, Marianne Leone shares her story of being the mother of Jesse, a child born premature. Leone faces doctors and physical therapists who want to pigeonhole her son with a ferocious love that will not allow anyone – will not allow anyone to mistreat her son or underestimate his abilities.
Of course, Marianne is quickly and frequently judged to be a mother of a cerebral palsy child who is living in denial, unable to face the facts. Marianne describes her rage at those who did not see Jesse as worthwhile.
When Marianne told Jesse’s pediatric neurologist that Jesse had attempted to say “I love you” the neurologist looked at Marianne with distaste. Marianne obviously was “in denial”, imagining what was not possible. From his Olympian neurological heights the doctor pronounced his solemn verdict. Jesse would never be “intellectually normal.” He said those exact words and then he asked with, as Marianne describes it – he asked with what his lizard brain no doubt thought was kindness, if Marianne and her husband planned to have more children.
Did Jesse say “I love you”? Well, nobody can say for sure, but this we can be said. Although Jesse, had severe cerebral palsy and could not speak clearly he was also a straight-A student, a sophomore at his high school who wrote poetry on his computer, aced every one of his Latin tests, and windsurfed in the summer.
Ferocious love. If Jesse’s mother had not loved Jesse with ferocious love he would have been treated like one more statistic.
How have you been treated in your life?
Do you realize how God feels about you? Do you understand that Jesus warning applies to anyone who would harm you? If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of my children, it would be better if a great millstone were fastened around their neck and they were drowned in the depth of the sea. The God who created you has a love for you that is ferocious.
Before you walk up to The Lord’s Table and experience the ferocious love of God I want you to hear the first poem Jesse wrote, when he was ten.
On the inside, I walk
On the outside, I give
On the outside, I am mute
On the outside, I give
On the inside, I speak
On the inside, I walk
Walk to the Lord’s table and eat the bread and drink from the cup.