Jan 192016
 

Sermon by Bronson de Stadler

Good morning. I am honored to speak to you on this holiday weekend celebrating the memory of the Rev. Martin Luther King, a monumental figure in the Civil Rights movement and an important contemporary Christian figure for his commitment to justice and change through peaceful means. In fact, as you may already know, he is considered a saint in the Episcopal church. His name is listed in the Book of Lesser Fasts and Feasts, a list of those, who by general church consensus, exemplify Christian values and are worthy of honoring as saints. Many other leaders in that movement are also saints, though not in the book, and we celebrate their spirit through Dr. King.

I want to talk about Dr. King and his legacy, but, first, my attention is caught by our gospel reading this morning, the Wedding Feast at Cana. I have the great good fortune not to be a theologian or a priest, and not even someone that well versed in the Bible. I have learned more about scripture and religious thought in the past fifteen years at St. Paul’s than I did in the previous fifty years as an on and off Episcopalian, and even a Christian in my youth.

I am less taken by Jesus’ miracle, his magical ability to turn water into wine, than the family dynamics being played out in the story. If you have adult children, you may be able to follow my lead.  So Mary is invited to a wedding feast in Cana in Galilee. My thought is the mother of the bride or groom was a friend or relative of Mary’s, so of course she was invited, and even obliged to attend. Jesus, her oldest son,  was in town (the third day of his visit) so, of course he too was invited. Likely he was an honored guest because, as one writer put it – and I love this phrase – Jesus was “a well respected though unconventional rabbi”.  With Jesus came, of course, that scruffy band of followers, the twelve disciplines who followed him everywhere, so of course they had to be invited, or maybe they just showed up. What choice did the parents of the bride and groom have? And these follwers were a motley band of “bros”, probably not very well dressed for a wedding feast with all their traveling around, probably always hungry because they depended so much on free food and the generosity of others, having given up their jobs and incomes (imagine how their parents felt about that), and probably thrilled to put down some good quality alcohol that was pretty scarce the rest of the time. No wonder the wine gave out.

Now Mary, in my mind, was likely not very happy about this entourage of misfits coming along and consuming so much wine, so she goes to Jesus to report to the problem. Like sons for millenniums, he replies to his mother in a gruff, irritated voice, “It’s not my problem.”, and grumpily” I’ve got other things on my mind.” Poor Mary. Haven’t we all been there. In fairness to Jesus, he did have other things on his mind, namely the great meeting with his destiny. No doubt Mary, as mothers do, persisted he do something. So like a good son, he grumbles and gives in. “Alright if you want a miracle, you’ll get a miracle. Maybe then you’ll leave me alone”. Low and behold the water is transformed into wine, not just any wine, but a fine wine, a very good quality cabernet let’s say. Everyone can get drunk, as was the custom at these affairs, Mary is proud of her son, and the disciplines believe in Jesus’ glory as they raise their goblets to down the abundance of newly found wine.

I hope my playful interpretation is not too disrespectful. Brian, you can speak to me after the service if it is. Fortunately, other thoughts also come to me about this piece of scripture. One of the things I cherish most about our Episcopal faith is it’s encouragement to apply reason to what we see, hear and read. Perhaps you remember the analogy of the three legged stool upon which our Anglican authority and faith rests: scripture, tradition and reason. When I apply reason to this story it becomes less about whether you believe in miracles or not, or grouchy yet dutiful sons, but it becomes a powerful story of transformation. Something very ordinary, though life sustaining, namely water, becomes something very precious and special, namely fine wine. This mystery of transformation through the spirit of God in the person of Jesus, becomes less a story about magic, and more a story about the capacity of the ordinary to be transformed.

When I last spoke to you on Martin Luther King Day in a sermon about five years ago (and forgive me if I repeat this part of the story), I talked about the woman who used to pull into my family’s driveway when I was a child in the big black Buick every Sunday at nine o’clock to take me to church. I would dutifully walk out in my charcoal gray wool, and endlessly itchy, suit with the clip-on tie to get in, while my parents were still groggy and hungover from whatever social event they attended the Saturday evening before. My Gram, Pauline Greening de Stadler, would take me to the large stone Victorian church with the wonderfully vivid stained glass windows, much like the windows in St. Anna’s,  in a city in Southern Connecticut, the church in which she served on the vestry for many years, the women’s guild, where my grandfather was treasurer, and where her grandparents had attended and helped found the church itself. We always sat in the same pew, her pew and her family’s pew. In St. Paul’s the same tradition existed. If you look over to my left, you will see that two of the pew boxes do not have dividers in the middle. It was built that way in 1922 so two of the prominent families who played a historic role in the history of this church could all sit together as one block. It was their pew.

As the demographics of the Southern Connecticut changed, and the sprawl from New York City brought more and more economically changed people looking for jobs, cheaper housing, and a better life, the old guard of the church dwindled away in the flight to the suburbs. The church started looking very empty on Sundays, but then a few new people started coming. You would think that would be a good thing, but it presented increasing challenges for my grandmother which I witnessed play out.

The first insult was people sitting in her pew. Once or twice could be forgiven out of ignorance, but it began to occur on such a regular basis, we had to appear earlier and earlier to be assured we would get the her pew. At one point we were so early, I remember looking around to see we were the only people in the sanctuary. The second insult was a change in the church service in the late nineteen sixties or early seventies. The priest instructed us in offering the sign of peace to each other after the confession. To which my anglo-saxon grandmother grumbled, “Shake hands with strangers. People you don’t even know.” She complied, but her displeasure with the change was palpable.  The third insult was the final one. It was the one she could not get over.

Among the new people who started showing up at church in the increasingly decaying inner city surrounding the church, were people of color, some of whom spoke English with a Spanish or other accent. The words “Puerto Ricans” was used a lot in those in those years, with many degrading variations. Worse than that, I remember a small group of  black women with calico dresses and lace handkerchiefs, and noticeable perfume, who were very friendly and spoke English with a clipped Caribbean accent. They were lovely to the children like me, and tried to be friendly to my grandmother, but it was too much. She asked if she could have a word with the rector. She wanted to let him know that these people did not belong in the church, that they were likely under the misapprehension that this was a Roman Catholic church since our service was high church, that she wished he would speak to them with the unspoken message to ask them to leave. He was not won over, or pleased to hear these words about his now barely revitalized church. We stopped going not too long afterwards.

I tell this long story because it was a very meaningful lesson for me, one I think about now much more than I did as a young man. My grandmother taught me many valuable life lessons, and she took her faith seriously and genuinely tried to live by it, her phrases and scripture quotes stick in my mind to this day. She was a very good person, but she could not transform herself to a new way of thinking about others. She could not transform herself out of the racial prejudices and stereotypes she grew up with, and that were the norm in the milieu in which she lived. That miracle could not happen for her.

Fortunately for us, Martin Luther King and all the other leaders of the Civil Rights movement past, and those fighting for social justice to this day were and are providing opportunities to transform our thoughts, and therefore ourselves,  to something that seemed quite impossible when I was wearing that itchy wool suit, namely a civil society in which justice is equal and preconceived notions of who people are because of their skin color or country of origin or religion don’t matter. “I have a dream”, that iconic phrase of an imagined future, comes to mind. I must confess to you, I still have a way to go myself to that dream. Change and transformation are not my long suit, but I keep knocking on the inner door, as do you who come to this place on the weekend and ask for help in your prayer life. We are all banging on the inner door.

Every so often a flash of light appears, a new way of seeing or understanding something, and I/we are lifted up. We all have these, our own individual flashes of light, our small everyday epiphanies, and every so often, one sticks and offers the possibility of real change.

I will share one from a favorite author, Toni Morrison, author of Beloved, Song of Solomon, God help the Child, and many more great books. I have not been able to get her response to a question out of my mind. When the commentator Stephen Colbert raised a question with her about race, she replied, “There is no such things as race. None. There is just a human race – scientifically, anthropologically. Racism is a construct, a social construct…it has a social function, racism.”

Wow. I’m still digesting that.

In God’s name. Amen.

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 Sermon for Sunday January 17 2016 The Second Sunday after the Epiphany  Posted by on Tue, 19-Jan-16 News, Sermons Comments Off on Sermon for Sunday January 17 2016 The Second Sunday after the Epiphany
Jan 132016
 

 

What do you think brought Jesus to the banks of the Jordan River that day, to where his cousin John was plunging people under the surface in the ritual of baptism?  Well, what brings you here today?  In the movie “The Last Temptation of Christ”, the film maker portraits Jesus being pursued by an unseen divine hand that thwarts his plans, stymies his ways and even knocks him to the ground repeatedly until he surrenders and follows where that hand wants to lead him.  Perhaps we know a bit about what that is like.  Though probably not in such dramatic a fashion, that unseen hand has led us here today – whether we perceive it or not.

What must it have been like for Jesus to come up out of the waters of the Jordon that day, and to hear a heavenly voice say, “You are my son, the Beloved with, you I am well pleased”?  Well what is it like for us, to be submerged in the rhythms of the ritual and liturgy we practice in this place – on Sunday mornings and on Wednesday evenings – inspired and challenged by words, comforted and revived by music, caressed by silence, fed by both word and sacramental bread? When we are plunged into the holy here in this place and then come up again, isn’t the air somehow changed for us? Do we hear with our hearts once again that we are God’s beloved, and that there is nothing that can ever change that?

This past Wednesday night, as I sat in the synagogue with hundreds of other people who had come to hear about the basics of Islam I was struck by what a special moment it was. There we were, Jews, Muslims and Christians all crowded in together because we had to know more about each other. We were especially curious about the Muslims who were about to address us. The program began with Rabbi Avi reading verses from the Koran that called the faithful of Islam to respect and support their Jewish and Christian neighbors in their lives of faith.  Then the young Imam who was to address us stepped to the microphone.  He shared the basics of the Islamic faith and tradition with us, and he spent many a moment telling story after story about the prophet Mohammed (may peace be upon him).  As he told those stories his face would light up and he would smile broadly and he radiated that glow that people have when they are speaking about the people in their lives who are the most beloved to them.  And there was no doubt in my mind that I was watching and listening to a man who knew himself, through the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) to be beloved of God.  And far from diminishing my own sense of belovedness, listening to him and watching him, magnified my own sense of belovedness, through Jesus.  And that seemed to be the spirit in the room – even as some difficult questions were asked and answered, our sense of being the beloved of God through our own traditions, yet connected to each other by being gathered in that place by some unseen hand,  permeated the air.

As I thought back on Wednesday evening as I prepared this sermon I just kept envisioning the beautiful light of belovedness that radiated out from the Imam who was addressing us.  The more I thought about it the more I wondered if that same infectious effect, of his sense of belovedness rekindling our own, was what the people gathered on the Jordan’s bank experienced the day that Jesus was plunged under the surface, rose up again and heard the voice from heaven proclaiming his belovedness.  Could it be that truly knowing yourself to be beloved of God is contagious and irresistibly attractive?

Spiritual writer Marianne Williamson once wrote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Through surrender of his life to the unseen divine hand that would guide and direct his life, and never let him go, Jesus was freed from fear, and became our great liberator.  His life, death and resurrection have opened a way for us where before we could see no way on our own - a way straight into the heart of God.  May we shine with the light of those who know the greatest hope and joy because we know that we are beloved of God in Christ Jesus whom we follow.  And may our faith and our hope and our joy strengthen that of others whether they share our tradition or not.  For then all of us will receive the gift that we must humbly share with all people through the psalm we read today. At verse 11 of Psalm 29 we are promised “The Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.” May it begin with us!

On this great day when we remember how God led Jesus to perceive his identity as beloved of God – an identity that we share in him – we do as they did on the banks of the Jordon.  Here in this place (at the 10:15 service) we will initiate Annie White into the Body of Christ through the waters of Baptism.  And after the water has been dried from her brow, we will call down the blessings of the Holy Spirit upon her as we seal her with holy oil and mark her as Christ’s own, beloved forever.  And may she be for us a mirror – reminding us to shine that beloved light again as we go into the world in his name and for his sake.  Amen+

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 Sermon for Sunday January 10 2016 The First Sunday after the Epiphany  Posted by on Wed, 13-Jan-16 News, Sermons Comments Off on Sermon for Sunday January 10 2016 The First Sunday after the Epiphany
Jan 042016
 

 

Some of you have undoubtedly heard me tell this story before, because I love to share it during the Christmas season.  It is a story that comes from Madeleine L’Engle, the wonderful Episcopalian author and speaker.  She told it during an Advent quiet day I attended once.  It’s the story of a 3 ½ year old girl whose mother gave birth to a baby sister at about this time of year.  The little girl’s parents took great care to consider her feelings on the day that the new baby was coming home from the hospital.  They encouraged her to express herself in whatever way she needed to, and they included her in all the activities of getting her new sister settled into their home.  The day progressed very nicely and the young couple’s anxiety about how their little girl might react to the baby was eased – that is until it was time to put the baby to bed.

After the baby was all settled into her crib, the little girl announced to her parents that she wanted some time alone with her new sister in the nursery.  This of course made the parents anxious all over again.  They knew their little daughter to be a gentle child, but this seemed such as strange request.  Yet the little girl was adamant, so they reluctantly but then ran to the baby monitor in the next room to listen in.  What happened next amazed them.  They heard their little daughter move to the side of her sister’s crib, and in a gentle but pleading voice she said to her infant sister, “Tell me what God is like, I’m forgetting!”

          Tell us what God is like, we’re forgetting!  That could be the universal cry of humanity. We each come from God- we are made in God’s image and yet we so quickly forget that.  Regardless of our forgetfulness, the image of the One from whom we come remains with us. Theologian and author, Frederick Buechner refers to this divine image within each of us as our “deepest self”.  Buechner writes this about this deepest self:

“Life batters and shapes us in all sorts of ways before it’s done but those original selves which we were born with and which I believe we continue in some measure to be no matter what, are selves which still echo with the holiness of their origin. 

          I believe that what Genesis suggests is that this original self, with the print of God’s thumb still upon it, is the most essential part of who we are and is buried deep in all of us as a source of wisdom and strength and healing which we can draw upon or, with our terrible freedom, not draw upon, as we choose.

          I think that among other things all real art comes from this deepest self-= painting, writing, music, dance… I think that our truest prayers come from there too, the often unspoken, unbidden prayer that can rise out of the lives of unbelievers as well as believers whether they recognize them as prayers of not.  And I think from there also come our best dreams and our times of gladdest playing and taking it easy and all those moments when we find ourselves being better or stronger or braver or wiser than we are.” (Frederick Buechner from, Telling Secrets, pp.44-45)

 

It is this truest self that leads us to hope when all hope seems lost and which leads us to seek out spiritual community in which we can find affirmation of faith, challenge for grown, and joy in a common journey.  It is a great joy at this time of year to look out on this congregation and see people who are with us who were not with us last Christmas or the one before that.  You are the newest face of Christ born among us!  You are an affirmation of how Christ is constantly being reborn to our world through our coming together in community in his name.  I know I speak for all of us who have been around here longer when I say we are happy you are here!

And the stories of what brings each of us through these doors for the first time are wonderful and diverse, but behind each story I always find a sense that God is very much at work through the deepest self in each one of us in bringing us in here together – whether we have been here for years or just a few weeks.  And it is through this deepest self of each one of us that God assembles all that God needs to move and shape St. Paul’s for God’s most gracious purposes here and now. Through our deepest selves God is continuing to build this church for the next chapter of its life whether or not we can recognize that movement.  Our human plans for the parish may be in line with what God is up to or they may be way off base. But we don’t need to worry, either way, it is only through God’s grace and guiding that we move together in any direction at all.  God is patient with us and at the ready to guide when we are ready to reach for that guidance.

All of this is very exciting and hopeful, but to be honest there is an element of it that is unnerving too.  Something new is being born among us.  For those of us who have been here a while we realize that we are called to make room for the new energy and ideas of our newer members, which may mean doing some things differently.  It is not unlike the feeling of a new member being born into a family, furniture gets moved, and dynamics in relationships shift and the new way of being family may take some getting used to.  For those of us who are newer to St. Paul’s, we have to try to get our bearings.  This might look like the last church we were part of, but know we are going to have to learn the culture here in order to find our place and feel that we fit in the family.  And sometimes homesickness for the ways things used to be – either years ago here at St. Paul’s, or at whatever church we came from before – creeps in, an sew miss the old familiar hymns, prayers, church activities.  Or maybe we have come from no recent church experience at all and we are trying to make sense of what is going on – to catch the flow of the service, to understand the seasons of the church year… Wherever we are coming from, we may wonder if there is room here for us and who we are in our deepest self to be incorporated into the story of this place going forward.

If that is true, we are in the right season, because a new baby is born to all of us again.  So all we have to do is take each other’s hands and come to his cradle side, kneel together, and ask him to tell us what God is like because we are forgetting.  For those who receive him, we are told, are given “power to become children of God who are born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh, or the will of man, but of God.”  When I read those words from the first chapter of John’s Gospel I see us all as being like those two little sisters in the story I started this sermon with – given to each other by an unseen hand, seeking God, whom we find reflected in each other’s eyes.  When we step out from our identity as “old timer” or “new comer” and join hands in the presence of the Word incarnate, God’s Word will echo through our deepest selves again and we will resonate together.  Then we will born again as his sacred body into a world that so needs his light.

In Christ’s name.  Amen+

 

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 Sermon for December 27 2015 The First Sunday after Christmas  Posted by on Mon, 4-Jan-16 News, Sermons Comments Off on Sermon for December 27 2015 The First Sunday after Christmas
Jan 042016
 

 

          And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.

I know this is true.  I have witnessed it and felt it here in this place with you.  We celebrate this day the feast of God’s incarnation in Christ – a festival that crowns the year and draws our minds and hearts to rejoice again.  But even after all the greens have been taken down and the light strands stored for another year the festival goes on because the reason for it never ends.  The Word becomes flesh and dwells among us, full of grace and truth.

It infuses our community and takes on flesh and blood in us.  It finds voice through our voice when we dare to talk together and with others outside of these walls about how we experience God’s presence.  It pulses and grows strong when we reach out healing hands to all who come to us seeking to share with us in God’s blessings.  The Word moves through the world when we offer ourselves as the vehicle.  So wherever we work, wherever we learn, wherever we play and whomever we cross paths with, they see, hear, feel and know the Word in ways that are only possible through us on our unique path.  What a wonder!

On some level the plan seems preposterous – that God should be born as a helpless infant, live a risk filled life, gather others around him to carry out a ministry of teaching, healing and speaking truth to power, only to have it end in his execution.  But then not to have it end, to have it rise up again mystically to continue the goodness through the, heads, hearts and hands of fallible folk like us.  Preposterous!  But I testify to you, I know it to be true.

Having been with you for over 8 years now, I have been honored to hear from many of you about some of your most palpable experiences of God’s presence in your lives.  As I think about all your wonderful stories, I am privileged to behold the connections between them.  The circumstances of each story are different, but the grace, power and peace bestowed on each of you has been the same – the power to know yourselves as children of God in Christ.

And I am struck by the image of all of us sewn together into one tapestry by the golden thread of grace.  What before looked like individual human lives are revealed to be deeply connected.  We were connected by the One who has touched each of us and brought us together by what once looked like random coincidence but which now seems plainly to be grace filled purpose.  What a blessing to be part of this community in his name.

This Christmas morning let us celebrate again the birth of the One whose preposterously wondrous life story has made all the difference in ours.  And may we then go into the world as people zealous to do good works.  And out in the world, in his name and for the sake of his love may we join hands with people of every faith and spiritual path, who are also seeking to increase the luminosity of God’s presence in the world.  May it be our dearest hope that in us they will recognize Him, and in them may we see and serve his likeness also.  In thanksgiving for the One born to us again this day, Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen+

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 Sermon for Christmas Day 2015  Posted by on Mon, 4-Jan-16 News, Sermons Comments Off on Sermon for Christmas Day 2015
Jan 042016
 

4 pm Childen’s Homily

  • Perhaps you can tell by my earings, that one of the things that gives me great joy at this time of year is all the Christmas lights that are around!
  • One of the things our family loves to do several times between Thanksgiving and Christmas is drive around the neighborhoods in our area and see the Christmas lights people put up on their houses and in their yards!
  • Does anyone else do that with their families? Why do you like Christmas lights so much?
  • For me it has with the time of year – the sun goes down very early and comes up late. The Christmas lights pierce the dark and lighten my heart.  I think people have been feeling this way for centuries – even before electric lights – people build bonfires during dark times of year to lift their spirits
  • In one of the readings from scripture we will read in the later service, the prophet Isaiah tells us, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined.” And then tomorrow morning at our service we will read this from John’s Gospel: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
  • And do you know who that light is? That light is the Babe of Bethlehem – he is the light that all our Christmas lights point too!  He is the light that the Christ candle – the white one in the center of our Advent wreath – points to.  The story you just told us from Luke’s and Matthew’s Gospels told how he was born.
  • And do you know where his light can be found? It can be found in our hearts. So if we are in some sort of dark time – we are not getting along with someone we love, or things at school or at home are not going the way we would like.  We can always stop and call upon the Christ light within us and he will come to our aid – he will show us his light.  He will comfort and guide us.  Try it out next time you feel down about something and let me know how it goes!
  • OK, one last thing, let’s go up to our manger scene and turn the light on, so we go out from here remembering that Christ is our light, no matter what!
  • After turning the light on, AMEN!
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 Sermon for Christmas Eve Family Service 2015  Posted by on Mon, 4-Jan-16 News, Sermons Comments Off on Sermon for Christmas Eve Family Service 2015
Jan 042016
 

 

Frederick Buechner, theologian and storyteller offers a story from his own life that I find very appropriate for this 4th Sunday of Advent.  It is a story that came from a dark period in Buechner’s life, when his young daughter was very ill, and he and his wife felt helpless and hopeless.  He remembers that one afternoon he was sitting in his parked car feeling particularly low, when over the hill in front of him, another car approached.  As it passed him he saw that its license plate read “T-R-U-S-T”, trust!  He writes that it was one of those moments when he felt directly spoken to by God.  It was a funny sort of thing that caught him completely off guard, because it was not at all how he expected to be addressed.  And that seems so often to be God’s way – to meet us where we might least expect it.

That is precisely what our reading attest to this morning. The prophet Micah tells us that thought Bethlehem is one of the small clans of Judah, a little city of no real account, it will be the birth place of the savior of Israel.  And our Gospel is shot through with the unexpected presence of God.  There we find Elizabeth and Mary, two women, pregnant at the most inconvenient of times – Mary as an unwed teenager and Elizabeth written off as barren and in the twilight of her life.

It is Mary who sings out about this amazing way God works, through the unexpected and the reversal of the world’s logic.  Mary has been so touched by what God is working out in her and her elder relative that she sings out, and the song she sings, The Magnificat, contains no signs of uncertainty.  In fact Mary is so confident about what God is up to that she sings in the past tense.  This hymn of praise is not the musings of a naïve young woman.  It is a powerful stuff.  It magnifies God’s ways and rejoices in them.

When we are centered in the reality of who we are in God’s eyes, we to magnify the Lord. When we feel caught up in the wonderful workings of grace and share that news, people around us respond in kind.  Something within them leaps of joy, just like John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb at the sound of Mary’s greeting.  And so the magnification of God’s amazing grace grows and God’s light in the world increases.

The opportunity to magnify God in this time and place is like a door and the only key to the door is trust.  It does not matter whether life is going well of not, the messaged is the same for all of us, T-R-U-S-T, trust!  Often our faith wanes when event go in a way we don’t want – when we suffer pain and loss.  But that is when we need our faith most.  That is when we can fall back on trusting that the One who has promised never to leave us along in our trouble is there for us.  That is when we can trust that the One who has shown us grace in working all things together for the good of those who love God, will do so again – no matter what. Maybe one of those cars driving by the front of St. Paul’s this morning has T-R-U-S-T written on its license plate.  Certainly the two women who meet us in the Gospel have TRUST written all over them.  And that is what the Magnificat is all about. Listen to it again, from a modern translation of the Bible – The Message, translated by Eugene Peterson:

And Mary said,

I’m bursting with God-news;
    I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
    I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
    the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
    on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
    scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
    pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
    the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
    he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
    beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

 

When we are too puffed up with ourselves, and think we have it all made, the Magnificat reminds us where our ultimate trust should lie – not with our own abilities, but with God’s unfathomable love for us and all people.  When we are low and feeling helpless and hopeless, the Magnificat reminds us of God’s mercy and the mysterious workings of grace that can make a way forward where we can see none for ourselves.

Like Mary and Elizabeth, when we trust, we become pregnant with the promises of God.

Frederick Buechner finishes his story about the trust license plate by saying that not long after he published that story in one of his books, a many showed up at his door with the license plate in hand.  He had been the driver of the car, and he wanted Buechner to have the plate.  Buechner writes, “That plate with Trust written on it has become the holiest of relics to me.”

May our trust inspired by the trust of Mary and Elizabeth, be our most holy relic in these last days of Advent.  May we trust with them, that what God has spoken to us is true – that despite our failings, in God’s own time, something holy will be and indeed is already being born among us.

In Christ’s name.  Amen+

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 Sermon for Sunday December 20 2015 The Fourth Sunday of Advent  Posted by on Mon, 4-Jan-16 News, Sermons Comments Off on Sermon for Sunday December 20 2015 The Fourth Sunday of Advent