Sermon by Deacon Maggie:
5 Easter May 10 2020 St John’s Franklin
Did you ever notice, when you read and listen to the scriptures appointed for the day… these scripture readings that we read over and over, on a three year cycle… somehow they speak exactly to where we are, and what we are experiencing… are exactly what we need to hear, exactly when we need to hear it? How they nudge us a bit? Not always at first, I admit, but when I take the time to sit with them, to put aside for a while, all the business and busy-ness of my life at that moment, the scriptures for the day perfectly fit. How strange and comforting that is. In our current situation, they speak deeply to my thoughts and fears and hopes and dreams and prayers.
Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life.
Today is Mother’s Day, a day that may have become, for you and your family, a tradition of sorts… maybe a day that you get to set aside your daily tasks and your burdens, you gather together and share some time together, maybe enjoy a lovely meal together, take some time to just be in the moment. This day can be filled with all sorts of emotions… born from memories and experiences, some wonderful, some difficult, some tender, some bittersweet. However you may have experienced it in the past, today brings a whole new perspective…
In the world we find ourselves today, a world infused with fear and uncertainty, born of a pandemic we struggle to understand and control, our lives are anything but normal. If we are considered “essential” personnel, we are working, so very hard, such long hours, in such crazy and frightening times. If we must stay home, alone or with our families, our “normal” has been turned upside down, as we try to adjust our lives to a new normal, a new way of living and being… trying our best to provide stability for our families-be it through new routines, working and teaching and learning from home, trying to meet the needs of our kids, our parents, ourselves. Our lives have become both isolated and crazy busy, as we try to adjust, amidst way too many Zoom meetings which thankfully help us keep in touch and do the work we need to do, but in such a different way… amidst so many unknowns. We can get so caught up in endless news stories, in very real worries we have- about money, our family, our future…or we can ask God, as we do every week in our Collect:
Help us to order our days so we spend more time with you. Guide and empower us, through your Holy Spirit, to love and serve one another
If you are at all like me, you may be experiencing all kinds of feelings and emotions, searching, looking for meaning, trying the best you can, to do the best you can… experiencing fear, uncertainty, anger, sometimes righteous anger-amidst injustice, insults, regrets. These feelings are real, and honest and we deserve to have them, but I think we are also being given a nudge, an invitation to look past them, to look deeper, to take some time to think about, wonder about, accept and yes dream about, what really matters to us, what we find, in the deepest depths of our hearts… who we are, who we were made to be. We can understand that this is not about us as individuals, but about us as beloved community. We can make the choice to lift up, rather than tear down. Think about your friends, those you love, those who help make you whole… Let them know…tell them, in your own unique and wonderful way, exactly what they mean to you. (Our church school kids are VERY good at this in case you need ideas!)
In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame; *
deliver me in your righteousness.
2 Incline your ear to me; *
make haste to deliver me.
3 Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,
for you are my crag and my stronghold; *
for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.
And I think we are being asked to look closely, deep within our hearts, at how we know God… to take the risk to go to those very tender, personal…maybe private places… through all levels and layers of feelings… to spend some time with those very intimate emotions- be they gratitude, or anger, or frustration or love- and grow closer to the God that loves us so much.
Let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
Many dwelling places… I used to hear these words as I was OK, and I was, maybe even beloved, and knowing that emboldened me to try to live into who I was meant to be. I still hear it this way, but just as much of what we are, changes and matures as we grow, so our understanding grows and matures and changes… So however I feel this may apply to me, I understand that it also applies to those who feel and think and believe very differently than I do…there is a dwelling place being prepared for them too. I don’t think it matters one little bit, how you look, where you came from, what mistakes you have made, what your faith leads you to believe… God is, and has been all along, preparing a dwelling place just for you, for all of us, His beloved... In South Africa they call this Ubuntu-I am because we are… both-and. Over and over we are reminded, God can be (is) all He needs to be, to each and every one of us…all we need him to be, whether we are of the Christian faith, or Hebrew, or Muslim, or Buddhist or any other… or still searching. God is manifest to us in our present time and our present circumstance, our present being, bringing just what we need, just when we need it…and we are given the choice… we can choose to grow-or not quite yet- because we are loved, we are cherished, and God is right here, with us.