December 29, 2019 - St John’s Franklin - Morning Prayer
Well…you did it!You prepared and planned and decorated and shopped and cooked and pulled it all together…some of you traveled and visited with family and friends… some you see all the time, some you only see on rare occasions.Some of you had some time alone, in solitude, and that may have been peaceful and precious, and for some, it may have been hard.Some of you, I imagine, visited with friends and family you have lost, but who will forever live on in your heart… some of the memories are warm and fond and exquisite…some maybe sting a bit… But you did it. Christmas.And you made St John’s a part of it!
When I first came here all those months ago… I was so happy to find the one thing I have only found in one other parish I have served… this parish is the people’s parish… Sure you have clergy to lead and organize and sometimes even inspire… to be there for you when you need us to be… but the heart, the soul and the strength of this parish is…you…each and every one of you… and it’s a place that understands the importance of community, each and every member of the community.This parish understands, at its very core, the importance of children, who are the future… and it is shaping them to be mighty warriors and sensitive caretakers that the world so desperately needs.This was so evident in the amazing pageant we were blessed to experience, an unbelievableresult of incredibly hard work, long hours, imagination and dedication… and it showed, in the faces and confidence of the children, in the gentle coaching, encouragement and pride of the leaders, in the faces of every one of the lucky folks sitting in the pews, who were able to experience it.I can’t imagine a better Christmas eve.It was pure love, and you shared it not just with us, but with folks in senior living, who got to experience the magic too.What a gift!
That’s the thing about children…when loved, strengthened, encouraged-children believe anything is possible.As Christ came to us as a simple, tender and vulnerable child, He brought the Good News… that despite the world around us, the mistakes made, some with lessons learned and some we keep repeating over and over, despite the noise of those richer and more powerful, we are able to be reborn… we are a force.We are a force emboldened and empowered by God through the word and examples of His beloved son Jesus Christ.As we go forward, bravely in faith, imagine a world where all are welcome, all are free, all live a life of mutual love and mutual benefit…sounds like a bit of a pie-in-the-sky notion perhaps, but rebirth means you are re-empowered, re-infused with the passion to do your part…and it’s a small but crucial, even essential part, of the kingdom of God.
And now, as we experience the 12 days of Christmas… a time much too big and important to be limited to one or two days, we have a chance to reset. Soon it will be time to begin anew.But first, take a deep breath… give yourself a bit of time to recover… The coming of Christ is an opportunity, a time when all things can be new, again.One of the things I love about scripture is the imagery…”the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the LordGodwill cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.
Allow yourselves to be filled with the wonder and hope of this new life.Listen to what your heart may be calling you to this new day,and take this opportunity to plant some new seeds…and then, start over, newly engaged, newly infused with a sense of meaning.Allow yourself to be enlightened, encouraged… the light of Christ, the power of God and the Holy Spirit is with you…behind you to urge you forward, in you to inflame your passions, in front of you to lead you on the right path.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.
And the word was made flesh, just as you are…you are a tiny part of the world made flesh… and we need you… you are essential part of the whole,which is the kingdom of God…try to live your life with honesty and integrity and faith..Be aware that you may be the one, chosen, who can make God known to one of his beloved children… enriched and empowered and humble and thankful… you will stumble, you will even fall at times, but stumble and get up again… gaining and regaining strength and determination from all the people and places that put you in touch and keep you in touch with the voice of God.It is so important for every voice to be raised, every voice to be heard…you are an essential voice… without your voice, the song is incomplete.
And as you move forward, hold the memories of these last weeks close… We just finished the four weeks of Advent, and each Sunday we lit another candle…each representing an essential part of our lives as Christians…Hope, Faith, Joy and Peace… light… flame… candle… take some time once again to focus on that light, take it into your heart, feel it warm you, remind you that despite anything else that may surround you, you are loved and cared for… kindle that flame in the hearts of others.The light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it. Amen.