March 22nd Sermon, by Deacon Maggie:
4 Lent- March 22, 2020 St. John’s Franklin
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world:… Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Bread...we bake it, we buy it, we us it to feed ourselves and our families… for centuries it’s been a part of our lives… but just now, I ask you to consider the phrase… “The bread of life” What does that phrase say to you? To me, it’s about what feeds me, what nourishes me, what empowers me to be, to live into the person God made me to be.
What we are going through right now is hard…really hard…and a bit scary… I believe that, among other things, we are actively being called… to stay in, to be a bit less active, to do things a bit differently than usual... to be a bit quieter than usual... and to listen…easier said than done sometimes, especially with small children, but still, listen…I don’t mean for a second to suggest that this is a good place to be, or that we should be so happy to have corona virus all around us… but... amidst the constant updates, the self appointed experts, the true professionals and the ever evolving and often frightening information, what opportunities might exist in all this? Some of those we know, some actually here in our midst, are actively involved in the response, caring for us, such as those in service organizations or health care, those that supply our daily needs and are often overlooked… and I think we must obviously support them in any way we can, as well as with our prayers and deep gratitude. But what about the rest of us? We are being forced to find new ways to continue to do the needed work we have been given. We all have our jobs, at home, at work, in our careers, which may, if we are very lucky, also be one of our passions… but maybe, right now, we are also called to slow down…to stop, to look around, to go deeper, to explore… and appreciate the beauty all around us… those things, like the sunrise, sunset, a kind neighbor… all that we are sometimes too busy to notice. Those things we like, even love to do, but are often just too busy…. Maybe it’s pottery, or sewing, or knitting, or sports, or working out or building things, fixing things, being with animals or reading or… whatever it is that brings you joy… You fill in yours…. Maybe it’s bringing order out of chaos, for some even housekeeping (may God bless and keep you!) Maybe it’s time to ask yourself… “What passion can I follow?”, “What new thing can I do?”, “How can I honor those who are bravely on the front lines?”, “How can we help each other?” We must be wise and careful…but I have to believe we can also listen in these troubling moments… and hear the voice of God, calling us to something new…something important, something that is uniquely our call… a new way of being and doing… and we are invited to take a deep breath and explore, even embrace it.
So I ask you… What do you love? What fills your heart, what is your passion?
I was very blessed to have a career in pediatric intensive care, and I will always be grateful for that. One of the things I love now is working in the yard. I love digging in the dirt! I love mowing and tilling and planting and waiting expectantly for those tiny seedlings to emerge, to burst up, full of life and hope and promise. And, I admit, I love power tools! My very kind neighbors graciously allow me to putter around their yard, mow and rake and on a really good day, pull out the chainsaw…
And I love working with glass… from making a pattern, choosing the glass, scoring and breaking the pieces, shaping them to fit the pattern, soldering them together into something new… David Zaltzberg, one of those we pray for each week, taught me, very patiently, how to do this around 20yrs ago, and has been a respected, beloved mentor ever since… He knows me so well… when I told him, all those years ago, that Tom Shaw had asked me to consider the diaconate, he didn’t even look up from the intricate lampshade he was making…”Well duh”... he said…
My sincere prayer for each and every one of you, from our most active child to our wisest senior, is that you find or have already found, and are able to live, your God given passions!
The Psalm appointed for this morning, our well known and well-loved Psalm 23- speaks to us about our relationship with God, that personal and intimate relationship that is there for each and all of us, even in the most troubling of times, and is everlasting. It is as if it was especially sent to us this day, in these difficult times. (and, speaking as a former infection preventionist, if you recite it while handwashing it lasts just about 20 seconds!). The Old and New Testament readings talk about blindness, and healing, about understanding and the gift of true bread that gives life. The bread of life… I might be stating the obvious here, but YOU, as God’s beloved, are the true bread, you have been given the power to give life, you have in fact been created, been given the gifts, been sent, been placed right here, in this place, at this time, to be the true light in your small corner of the world… and we humbly pray…How do we as God’s hands in the world bring healing and light?
May we each, in our own unique, special and God given way, be that true light.