"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sermon Notes including notes on Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

This past week I was a guest "preacher" for my church. I agreed to fill in for our actual preacher who is on vacation. The themes of the sermon were Mercy and Grace based on my reading of two books, Pride and Prejudice and Just Mercy. After Sunday several people asked me for a copy of my sermon notes, which you will find below the fold. The notes are my outline so they may not include complete thoughts. I wrote just enough to remind me what I wanted to say. The center fold of the sermon were my thoughts on the excellent memoir, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. I recommend that you read the book but in lieu of that watch the author's TED talk to learn about the important work he is doing to correct justice issues we are having in our nation.

Sermon notes below

"You must know---surely, you must know it was all for you"
O Lord Jesus Christ,
Take our minds and think through them;
Take our lips and speak through them;
Take our hands and work through them;
Take our hearts and set them on fire with love for you, now and always. Amen
                Librarian/Teacher/Bad joke-teller
Romans 5:6-8
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Books related to theme: Grace and Mercy
                Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
                Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
·         Christ figure, book-club example
·         Back story-
o   Mr. Darcy asks Elizabeth to marry him but does it in a vain and conceited way. She refuses.
o   Later they meet again and this time they start to strike up a real friendship but right in the middle Elizabeth learns that her youngest sister has run off with a man and they aren’t married.
o   Elizabeth is sure this is the end of any chance at reconciliation and will bring ruin to the family.
o   But behind the scene Mr. Darcy tracks down the wayward couple, pays for their marriage, discharges their debts, restores them to her family…essentially saving the whole family from social ruin
o   Elizabeth learns of what Mr. Darcy has done and when she meets him next, in private she thanks him for the whole family
o   To which Mr. Darcy says to Elizabeth : "You must know---surely, you must know it was all for you"
The second book, Just Mercy also contains a godly example
·         Don and I listened to the book together recently
·         The author, Bryan Stevenson, came out of law school wanting to make a difference in people’s lives
·         Became the director of the EJI (Equal Justice Initiative) which focuses on social justice and justice within the justice system, especially as it relates to people on death row. “Innocence Project” now has helped exonerate 152 innocent people previously on death row and without hope.
·         One such case Walter McMillian was framed for a murder he didn’t commit in Monroeville, AL (home of Harper Lee) he was placed on death row for 15 months before the trial. Even though he was with a dozen people the day and time of the murder he was still found guilty. (Singled out because he was having an affair with a white woman)
·         The vast majority of people on death row are brown or black and nearly all are poor
·         Bryan Stevenson and EJI just want justice for these people who have lost all hope.
Sermon notes
·         -When I accepted this assignment I thought I was going to focus on God’s Mercy and his Grace extended to us.
·        - I remember once in high school feeling so dejected because I had knowingly committed a sin and I thought that was it. I had wasted my chances. But Christ came to me in the form of a Christian friend and said, “Christ loves you so much he was willing to die for you, just for you, Anne.”
·        - It is a message we all need to hear repeatedly. That God loves us so much he sent his SON to die for us.
·         -Look again at the Romans scripture: When we were powerless, at the right time, Christ died for us. We didn’t deserve it but he did it anyway, freely ---a gift of GRACE
·         Paul tells us in I Timothy 1:15.16 that Christ died not just for the world but for me
o   15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
-I often feel that way, THE WORST OF SINNERS. (So don't think I have all this stuff I am talking about today figured out.)
·        - But as I thought about the examples from my two books, Mr. Darcy and Bryan Stevenson, I started to think of the phrase, “Surely you know I did it all for you” in a different way. What if I am standing in front of my creator in the end days will I have anything to show for my time on earth?
·         Micah 6:8 is a popular scriptiure, but let's look at what comes before it: Micah 6:6-8

o   6With what shall I come before the Lord
    and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God.
·          -God doesn't require fancy offerings from us. He requires that we ACT JUSTLY, LOVE MERCY, and WALKING HUMBLY WITH HIM.
       -And in our responsive reading today,  we read “We ask today, O God, for those who have lost hope and for those who have never had it. Grant to us and to those we lift before you in our hearts a new and abiding vision of what you have done, and what you are doing, and what you will do, to save and redeem your people and indeed the creation itself. “ Did we mean it?
·         -As I prepared this sermon I went to the Internet and watched a Bryan Stevenson TED talk. Here are a few gems I gleaned from it:
o   It is better to be Rich and guilty better than poor and innocent in this country.
o   Currently 1/3rd of black men in country are in jail or parole
o   One out of nine people on death row are innocent (Think about that in terms of driving or riding in a car?)
o   We cannot be truly Christlike until we pay attention to injustice. We have to be mindful of the dark and difficult things. We have to be that person who gives others HOPE.
o   Each of us is worth more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.
o   Rosa Parks Quote (Back story) Read from pages 292-293
·        - Rosa Parks and Ms. Carr tell Bryan with his important and demanding work he will need to BRAVE. BRAVE.BRAVE.
·         -We need to hear that message today. We are called to service for Christ.
·         -We are called to do hard things.
·         -We are called to give others HOPE. The same hope we have received from Christ: that he loves us and he loves them!
·         -We are called to be BRAVE.

·         We may not have Mr. Darcy’s money or Bryan Stevenson’s gumption but can ACT JUSTLY AND LOVE MERCY and extend that justice and mercy to everyone we meet. 
·         We can behave bravely! We must.
·         And in the end, when we stand before our maker and he sees what we have done, how we have lived out lives, I hope we can all say, like Mr. Darcy did to Elizabeth that day, "You must know---surely, you must know it was all for you, Lord."

Prayer...repeat the opening prayer, which was the prayer my father, a Methodist minister, always prayed before he preached.
 O Lord Jesus Christ,
Take our minds and think through them;
Take our lips and speak through them;
Take our hands and work through them;
Take our hearts and set them on fire with love for you, now and always. Amen


  1. I thought Just Mercy was SO good and thought provoking! Great topic for a sermon

    1. I agree. Just Mercy should be mandatory reading for everyone!

  2. I am not religious but I really enjoyed reading your sermon notes :). I will have to look up Just Mercy. I'm familiar with The Innocence Project and met people who were on death row and then exonerated of their crimes, so I know about the injustices in our criminal justice system. I am glad that there are good people out there trying to do the right thing for others.


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