This is the Great Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ “ (Luke 10:27) It’s true, if you look at the majority of my messages lately, the emphasis is on loving God and neighbor. Not this Sunday. As we pick up the Popcorn Parable series and our emphasis on reconciliation, this message is about you and me loving and embracing ourselves.
Inside Out is another in a long line of outstanding Pixar movies that always entertain the kids, but at the same time, engage us as adults. That is particularly true of Inside Out. The grandkids loved it when we saw it at the Sebastiani Theater, but I was blown away by the sophistication and message. A little research revealed that was no accident. Pete Doctor, the director, got interested in the project when he noticed his own daughter’s personality changing as she grew older. The Pixar team did their homework as they consulted numerous psychologists, including Dacher Kelner, who helped revise the story to include the most recent findings that human emotions affect interpersonal relationships, and can be significantly moderated by them.
My big takeaway was that I need to embrace ALL of who I am, not just the parts I like. “Joy” was always trying to keep “Sadness” from being in the mix of emotions. “Anger”, “Fear”, and “Disgust” got their shot at the control board, but “Joy” always pushed “Sadness” away. (Loved Lewis Black being cast as Anger!) Of course, as the story unfolded there really was cause for “Sadness” to feel the losses of a big move and making new friends, so “Sadness” being denied a role caused real problems. “Joy” had to embrace “Sadness,” and together restore some emotional balance in young Riley’s life. I’ll show the last scene which ends with a question—what’s the puberty button on the new control board? “Joy,” ever the optimist, dismisses it as probably not that important.
Ephesians 4:31-32: Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort. Instead, be kind and tender-hearted to one another, and forgive one another, as God has forgiven you through Christ. Loving ourselves as God loves us means letting go of all attempts to make ourselves “right,” and embrace the grace that’s available to us. We’re imperfect people loved by a perfect God. That is a paradox that few can choke down, so the result is we pay a lot of lip service to grace, but live as driven, angry people who are trying to fill the “not enough” hole with anything but God’s presence.
I sometimes hear a few of you grumbling about “psycho-babble” from the pulpit, and I invite you to grumble away. All the brain science, which includes psychology, is providing us more and more insight into how God wired us up in creation. I find the Bible to be “good” science when it comes to the human condition. Paul Tournier, the great Swiss physician who brought theology and psychiatry together opened up a new world for me as a seminarian. His book, Guilt and Grace remains a classic.
Kristin Knef and Brené Brown are today opening news ways to understand and talk about the complexities of who we are in the midst of life’s simple mandate. (See Great Commandment). Knef is making an important contribution around the issue of self-compassion, which she says is composed of three elements: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Knef asks the question that always jars me: “Do you speak to yourself like you’d speak to your best friend?” Nope. If Jesus nailed the truth when he told the Pharisees what is on the inside will make its way to the outside, then to borrow a phrase, “Houston, we have a problem.” Because we have not reconciled with who we are in the inside, we can’t give away what we don’t have, and struggle to reconcile with the people around us.
Romans 5:8-9: But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. And heal us from the inside out so we embrace ourselves as we are able to embrace others.
More Sunday…Here’s what I have on my desk…
SPECIAL CONCERT FOR HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
On Monday, August 29 at 7:00 PM, St. Andrew will be hosting a special jazz concert. Grammy Award winning Danny Coots and Grammy nominated Brian Holland will be performing in a benefit for Habitat for Humanity. The concert is FREE, but an offering will be taken for Habitat.
THE BROWN BAGGERS MINISTRY NEEDS YOUR HELP! This important Ministry is looking for a new Coordinator. This is a 1-day per month commitment. Brown Baggers meet on the 3rd Wednesday of each month in the Fellowship Hall at St. Andrew from 9:30AM—11:00AM to make sandwiches and assemble lunches for those in need. The Coordinator is responsible for getting the food, bringing it to St. Andrew and delivering the assembled lunches to the Sonoma Valley Grange. St. Andrew has a wonderful group of experienced volunteers to assist the Coordinator in this ministry! If you are interested, PLEASE MARK YOUR COMMUNICATION CARD on Sunday or contact Suzanne Young at 939-8173 / [email protected]
BERGEN/MARTIN AND HAZEL BURNETT SCHOLARSHIP NEWS
Applications for the Fall 2016 Semester are now being accepted for the Hazel Burnett and Bergen/Martin scholarships. The deadline for applications is August 28, 2016. For information and to get applications, contact the church office at 707-996-6024 or email [email protected]
Now you know what I know…