Matthew 20:1-16 and an Excerpt from The Abundance Within us and Between Us by Parker Palmer
Sunday September 24th, 2023
By Rev. Nicole M. Lamarche
Welcome again and thank you for joining us however you are in the room or on the livestream.
I invite you now to take some deeper breaths as you are moved, allowing us to tune into whatever word God has for us today. As you are moved I invite you to join me now in a spirit of prayer from Psalm 19. God may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
He says things like, “If your dream ain’t bigger than you, there’s a problem with your dream.”
And, “I expect to be great. I expect to do what hasn’t been done. I expect to provoke change.”
And, “If you’re not moving forward you’re moving backwards & that’s not Progress. Everything u do & who u do it with should understand that life is about Progressing therefore if you’re not helping me to move forward well then u must be here to help me move backwards.”
“Stop saving yourself & give life your all. You’re not giving today all u got, you’re not all in & you’re not emptying yourself completely. Let’s go baby because tomorrow ain’t promised but today is here!”
Who am I talking about?
You guessed it! Coach Prime!
His presence in Boulder has inspired even those who care little about college football to tune in and I confess I am among them.
He doesn’t seem to know or care that in Boulder it’s hip to be Buddhist or anything new age but to claim to have learned something from Jesus that’s just uncool. Still recently he said, “Jesus! I had to say that to make Demons tremble and haters agitated. JESUS IS MY LORD & SAVIOR so get used to me proclaiming his name daily. God bless u now please have a blessed day because I am.”
And in a time when books that include the stories of black people are being banned and affirmative action has been struck down and in a moment when Black people are killed in public openly simply for existing, Coach Prime is living a different vision, literally building his own world, unraveling old expectations, undoing old tropes and stereotypes about everything from coaching to faith to being a black man and a devoted father. He seems to have refused the unspoken agreement (especially that we have here in Boulder) that Black Men should only show up in ways that don’t unsettle the mostly white audience in Boulder.
My husband told me recently that he remembers watching Doug Williams play in the Super Bowl in 1988 and it took him winning the whole thing with the then Washington Redskins that year before people would stoop staying that Black people weren’t considered intelligent enough to be quarterback. That was not that long ago!
As John Blake wrote, Coach Prime “has entered one of the Whitest and most conservative institutions in America — college football — and excelled. While many college football players are Black, most of the top teams are coached by White men, and many of the best teams are in red states like Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana. It’s not unusual to see Black and brown players competing on stadium turf surrounded by cheering White spectators. And it’s not just college — the entire culture of elite football is run by White men. The NFL is largely dominated by White, politically conservative team owners. It’s no secret the league has had a poor record of hiring Black coaches.” It’s also no secret what happens people speak out. Hello look at Colin Kaepernick! White people punish those who make them uncomfortable.
And in the presence of all of that, is Coach Prime, one who dares to roll with a dream bigger than what he was told he was allowed to hold. And he is doing this unapologetically. Without fear or worry. And without regard to how others view him or what he is doing. There’s an abundance, a boldness, a bigness to this vision.
And as I ponder it, it’s like he is demanding a new order, living in and through his frame of blessing and abundance and enoughness, in spite of what the world around him is doing.
He has taken the myths of the past and the lies of the present and is showing new possibilities.
And it makes me think of all the myths with which we are living right now, the lies that have infiltrated so much of how we share life together- like the lie that some groups are superior to others in body and in mind and the lie that we human beings are above or apart from the natural world and the lie that there isn’t enough for all of us to have enough, the lie of scarcity…As we heard from Parker Palmer, “the scarcity assumption leads to all kinds of things that kill the spirit…”
What if living our truths in the presence of these lies is part of our call right now? What I mean is that what if we are each invited to be a little more like Coach Prime and live our present and powerful truths, regardless of what the world around us is doing? What if part of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus is to call out the lies of the present, to live our truths with boldness and abundance.
That is part of how I understand this treasure of a parable that we heard from the Gospel of Matthew today. In the presence of an unjust economic system, rigged with exploitation and extraction, surrounded by the myth of not enough, this one person chose to do it his way. He chose radical generosity and abundance, he chose to live his truth, even though the world is doing something else. And he gives everybody the same wage. He is demanding a new order, living in and through his frame of blessing and abundance and enough-ness, without needing others to get it.
As commentator Charles Campbell wrote, “the disciples struggle to understand the reign of God within the old frameworks of the world (i.e. rich and poor, superior and inferior) and through the parable Jesus seeks to interrupt the old presuppositions and create the possibility” of another way, a new order.
What if the realm of God that we are a part of right here and right now needs more of us to dream bigger, unapologetically, boldy? And without fear and without worry. And without regard for how others view us or what we are doing or if they get it. What if breaking free from the myths of superiority and scarcity, the lies that we aren’t enough and there won’t be enough will show us new possibilities?
We will take about 90 seconds to share as we are moved with those closest to us.
How do you feel able to challenge scarcity and superiority? How can we more fully live in the paradigm of blessing and abundance and enoughness, in spite of what the world around us is doing and without others needing to get it?
Beloved of God, “If your dream ain’t bigger than you, there’s a problem with your dream.”
May it be so. Amen.