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All Souls Unitarian Church, Tulsa, OK


Oct 21, 2012

Sermon delivered on Sunday, October 21, 2012, at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by Rev. Tamara Lebak, Associate Minister.

SERMON DESCRIPTION

There is a wonderful scene in Alice in Wonderland where Alice is swimming in a pool of her own tears, and she encounters a mouse swimming along near her. Alice innocently tries to connect with the mouse around stories of her cat Dinah. Alice realizes that she is not connecting, yet continues to insert her foot in her mouth several times.

“Oh dear!” cried Alice in a sorrowful tone, “I’m afraid I’ve offended it again!” For the Mouse was swimming away from her as hard as it could go, and making quite a commotion in the pool as it went.

So she called softly after it, “Mouse Dear! Do come back again, and we won’t talk about cats or dogs either, if you don’t like them!” When the Mouse heard this, it turned around and swam slowly back to her. Its face was quite pale, and it said in a low trembling voice, “Let us get to the shore, and I’ll tell you my history, and you’ll understand why I hate cats and dogs.”

In order to expand our own understanding in the world, we must be in relationship with difference, and stay in relationship when in conflict. When we find ourselves offended by another’s behaviors or actions, it is often the differences between us that make a difference to us. What do we do when we have offended another unintentionally? How do we handle being offended?

In the Christian scriptures, offending another person parallels the concept of putting a stumbling block before them. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. (Rom. 14:13; cf. Rom. 14:20) Is it a sin both to offend and to take offense when none is intended? Come and explore with me the idea of causing and taking offense.

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