These thoughts started a conversation that was had at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, October 22, 2017. The discussion was based upon a reading from Isaiah 6:1-4 and Mark 11:7-11 and the “Sanctus and Benedictus.”
I have developed a handout to accompany this teaching and, hopefully, further the discussion in your home or small group. You can download it here.
This past week the Pew Research Center, “a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world,” released a survey that found that “most U.S. adults now say it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values (56%) up from about half (49%) who expressed this view in 2011.” While the increase can be largely attributed to the growth of people who profess no religious affiliation (“nones”), the report revealed that a growing number of religiously affiliated people (45% in 2017, 42% in 2011) believed that belief in God is unnecessary for morality.
We are quickly becoming a culture who finds little use for God, unless it’s a quick ticket to heaven; but, the truth needs to be told. We need a savior. I need a savior.
I need a savior to tell me to turn the other cheek and to love my enemies. I need a savior to tell me that the most important thing isn’t me, but others. I need a savior to save me from myself—from my own best, but faulty ideas; from my limited, but confident understanding; from actions that seem loving, but are ultimately about making me feel good.
I need a savior who challenges me toward perfection—not in all things, so as never to make a mistake, but to love perfectly with my whole being and with all that I am. I need a savior to remind me and show me that goodness can overcome evil; and, that peace—even if it defies understanding—can exist.
I need a savior to remind me that my worst days don’t define me; and that in the depths of the hells I create, there is hope; that no matter how far I run—from whatever I’m running from—God is there to offer love, comfort, mercy and reconciliation.
I need a Savior.
Why do you need a Savior? What sends you out into the streets to shout, Hosanna! Lord save me!
Why do you need a savior? Why does the world need a savior?
Are you living your life as if you really need a Savior?
In preparation for the upcoming Church Council meeting on Thursday night, I’ve been reading through the annual charge conference reports of Lee Memorial. 55 years ago, Rev. Dr. C. Clifford Sargent wrote:
The essence of the gospel which Methodism proclaims is that men and society can be made over by the grace of God. The truth of this declaration is clearly seen in the early Methodist movement. Wesley preached his gospel of the redeeming grace of God in Christ, and drunkards, libertines, and rogues of all kinds became honest men, sober, chaste, and industrious. Yes, and the abolition of the slave trade, the reformation of prisons and penal codes, the ending of the exploitation of women and children, the raising of the living and cultural standards of the underprivileged—all of these were due in no small measure to the operation of the moral and spiritual forces which were released by the Wesleyan revival of the eighteenth century.
If we are true to our spiritual heritage, we will recognize the fact that the Church has a responsibility not only for the individual life, but also for the character of civilization. If we are faithful sons and daughters of John Wesley, we will never surrender to cynicism or despair. If we are loyal disciples of Jesus Christ, we will know that our God is a great God, whose power is wholly adequate for the transformation of both men and institutions…
What should be our aim and ambition in these critical days? We may be sure that we are not born into a time like this to look out for ourselves and let the rest of the world go by. We must translate our faith into life. We must embody and exemplify the spirit of Christ. We must give all we can and do what we can in every circle whose opinions and decisions we are in position to influence—to the end that we and our children, and the children of every color and race, may not perish from the earth, but may have a chance to live in a world of peace and brotherhood. As individuals and as nations, yes, –and with a heavy and penitent heart, I am obliged to add, –as a church we have tried about every wrong way; it is now high time that we try the one and only right way; the way of Christ.
We need a savior. The world needs a savior. So gather in the streets and shout:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
In Luke’s rendition of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, as the people began to gather and shout Hosanna, “some….Pharisees from the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, scold your disciples! Tell them to stop’” (Luke 19:39, Common English Bible). They were being too loud, drawing too much attention to Jesus. To which he replied, “I tell you, if they were silent, the stones would shout” (Luke 19:40, Common English Bible).
Brothers and sisters, don’t give reason for the rocks to sing nor shout. Proclaim your need, our need, the world’s need for a savior. Receive the grace, mercy, love, and peace of Christ that your life, our lives, and the world might be transformed. Amen.
 Gregory A. Smith, “A growing share of American say it’s not necessary to believe in God to be moral,” PewResearch.org, October 16, 2017 <http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/10/16/a-growing-share-of-americans-say-its-not-necessary-to-believe-in-god-to-be-moral/> Accessed October 21, 2017.
 Rev. Dr. C. Clifford Sargent, in “The Fourth Quarterly Conference Report” of Lee Memorial Methodist Church, March 11, 1962.