Sermon by The Rev. Kathy McAdams
St John’s Episcopal Church, Franklin, MA
August 4th, 2019 - Proper 13C
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23
Open a wrapped package containing: bread and water, a house key, a car key, clothing, money, a plant and rocks, a cross, and a card.
The card says:
“To my people –
All of these things are my gifts to you, to use wisely while you inhabit the earth. But you can’t take them with you when you go. I hope you will always remember where they came from, that I entrusted you with all of the earth and my Creation, so that you would know that I love you. The plant and rock are to remind you that all of Creation is mine, I worked on it for a long time, and I want you to be kind to it. Remember to tend it, and remember that you are part of it, and it will give you everything you need. The food and water are to sustain you for your work, and you’ll need to make more, but I’ve provided abundant ingredients. You’ll all have enough, if you remember to share. The house is to provide you with shelter, the car to get you where you need to go, and the clothing to keep you warm. They’re nothing special, but they’ll do.
The cross is so you’ll remember my son, whom I also gave to you, to walk with you and live amongst you, and to teach you about my Kingdom. He gave you the keys to the Kingdom. You see, that’s why you’re all here, to help me make the world into what I had in mind. It’s already yours, my gift to you, if only you’ll live like you believe that. I had a special vision when I created the earth, and when I created you. I wanted all of my Creation to live in harmony, to love and nurture each other, as I love and nurture you. I need you to help bring my vision for creation to reality. You’re all dependent upon each other, and on me.
I know you forget that sometimes, and think that you can go it alone. You get really wrapped up in your jobs, and making money, and buying things that you think you need, to make you feel good about yourselves. But “It’s all vanity, and striving after wind.” You only end up exhausted and unhappy, because the wind can’t be caught. “All your days are full of pain, and your work is a vexation; even in the night your mind does not rest.” I didn’t create life to be that hard.
The problem is that you start to think that all of those things you’re storing up are yours. Please remember that they’re all mine; I’m just letting you use them for a while. When you leave the earth, all that you had will be passed on to someone else. Your legacy for the future can consist of things that were never yours to begin with, or it can consist of virtue – how you’ve loved people, how well you’ve shared my generosity with others, how you’ve shared the gift of yourself with those who love you and those who need you, how you’ve let yourself need others and me, how you’ve been compassionate to people who suffer, how you’ve humbled yourself and cared for my creation, including yourself, how you’ve brought about peace between individuals and groups of people, and how you’ve forgiven those who haven’t yet learned how to live my vision, just as I forgive you over and over again. Try to be aware of how your actions affect other people, and my Creation. Don’t do anything that brings harm, even indirectly, but try to leave this world better than you found it. Remember, you can’t take it with you, but you can leave a legacy for the future. Those are the things to cling to and focus on. In fact, that’s your job description as long as you’re on the Earth.
Please help me to make the world what I intended. Come to know me, your Creator. Set aside some time each day when we can be together, alone and quiet. Bring me your pain and your vexation, and leave it with me. I will renew and restore you, to the image of me in which I created you. I’ll let you know what I want you to work on, and how I see the world becoming, so that everything you do can be in my name. It’s yours; it’s my gift to you, and I want you to have all that it can be. Be rich in me, and you will be happy; your soul will be strong, and your heart full of my Glory.
All my love,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver”