SERMON: TWO PAIRS OF SHOES

INTRODUCTION:  TWO PAIRS OF SHOES

I read a sermon by Dr. Randall Bush[1]  delivered at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church during the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly meeting in Pittsburgh, July of 2012.   This message was in the inspiration behind a sermon I delivered at the Warren Avenue Saginaw Presbyterian Church in October of that same year.  This is that sermon.  In my daily devotions, I continue to return to this image of wearing TWO PAIRS OF SHOES.  This is still something I contemplate each and every day when I put on my socks and shoes.

SERMON:  TWO PAIRS OF SHOES

OCTOBER 7, 2012  

Micah 6: 6-8

WHAT GOD REQUIRES?        

“With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with tens of thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’
8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

 

John 14: 27

Peace I leave with you….my peace I give to you…..not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid….

Ephesians 6: 10-20

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For our* struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16With all of these,* take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.   18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 19Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,* 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

 MEDITATION

We talk about peace.  We pray for peace.  We strategize ways to bring peace into our lives and this community.  I commend M.T. Thompson Jr. and the “Anti-Violence Summit” yesterday that starts a community-wide process, particularly in our schools, of fighting a war against violence on our streets.  I believe M.T. Thompson is an avid supporter of the play “Speak Up, Speak Out”.  

What can I give you in just a few minutes?  In light of all that Tiffanny Goodman and her cast and team are doing to promote peace, what can we do – specifically?

I close my eyes and imagine children dancing and singing and playing throughout the streets of Saginaw….children waking up in the morning with smiles, laughter – looking forward to what each day will bring.

I close my eyes and imagine care-free youngsters walking too and from school and play yards without the fear of gangs or a stranger.

I close my eyes and imagine a community that is free from drugs and guns and bullying and intimidation that rule how our youth will behave on the streets.

I close my eyes and imagine opening doors and windows of our homes to listen for the sounds of birds singing and dogs barking ….without the shouting of fighting neighbors ….sirens blaring …. where children from north and south and east and west can dance, and smile and laugh and play – without fear.

For not everyone has the opportunity to escape the violence in our community.   This is our home…..and we want (we need) our children to be safe!

II.

 In using your imaginations, one simple thing I would like to suggest today:  Keep this image in your mind: 

 Putting on and wearing:  “Two Pairs of Shoes”  Yes!   Two Pairs of Shoes!

Try this idea out:  When you get up in the morning and put on your shoes, contemplate in your mind and in your heart putting on a second, specific, imaginary pair of shoes!  Put on this imaginary second pair of shoes every day.  Imagine walking not only in your shoes but the shoes of someone else.    

When you put on your shoes, imagine putting on the shoes of the mother whose son has been murdered – the shoes of Tiffanny Goodman.  Imagine walking through the day as she has to walk through each day sense the murder of her son.  Imagine putting on the shoes of Stèvon Martel Goodman, the shoes of a young man whose life was taken from the world prematurely.  Imagine where he would be in his life had he not been shot.  Imagine the shoes of all the children who have been murdered on the streets of our city…..shoes that will never again walk and dance and plan – and grow into the young adults we hope all our children to become.

 When you put on your shoes, something we all do each and every day, imagine putting on the shoes of a small child walking to and from school….always looking for the stranger, the danger that lurks around almost every corner.  What is the day going to be like for this child in his or her shoes?  And what can we be doing to make things safer for this child?  The parents of this child?  The community around this child? 

Imagine different types of shoes.  The shoes of the grandmother who grieves over the death of a grandchild or nephew or niece?  The shoes of a father struggling with his issues in handling anger.  Imagine the shoes of the parent who finds a gun in their son’s dresser drawer?  Drugs in their daughter’s backpack? 

More and more shoes.  Imagine the  shoes of a teacher?   What do they look like?  What does it feel like to be a teacher these days?

Anybody’s shoes.  Just put on in your mind a second pair of shoes…..each and every day.  Who is wearing the shoes.  What is he or she going through?  Be sensitized to where others are walking?  Pray for the people whose shoes you are wearing?  What can you do to support this person?  At the very least, how can we empathize with this person?   Put on in your mind….the shoes of somebody you will hold in your prayers throughout the day.

Why this first step?  Two pairs of shoes?  We often pray in generalities and for ourselves and those who are closest to us as family and friends.  As peacemakers and advocates for non-violence in our community – as a church — the first step is for each of us in our lives, our hearts, our minds….to walk in the shoes of others as we try to find ways to feel and see and taste and touch all they experience throughout the day.

That’s my sermon for this morning.  Let me know how things are going.  Try this out….if only for a few days.

Perhaps with some practice in putting on the imaginary shoes of others we can then go further with our prayers in walking humbly with God…..Micah tells us what God requires of us…..

 

8He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

My friends in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord:  We must find ways to walk, humbly in the shoes of our neighbors—and in so doing we are also walking with God. 

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord:  We must walk humbly with neighbors and with God in search for God’s peace….not only the peace of this world as the world gives … but the peace that surpasses understanding…the peace of almighty God – known through Jesus our Lord….Jesus who walks with us in our shoes each and every day.

Amen.


[1]   “O Church, What Does the Lord Require of you?”  Sermon by Rev. Randy Bush, July 1, 2012 at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA, during the meeting of the General assembly of the PCUSA.  http://covnetpres.org/2012/07/o-church-what-does-the-lord-require-of-you/

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s