Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sermon: January 17

Let us remember Spring will come again
To the scorched, blackened woods, where the wounded trees
Wait with their old wise patience for the heavenly rain,
Sure of the sky: sure of the sea to send its healing breeze,
Sure of the sun, and even as to these
Surely the Spring, when God shall please,
Will come again like a divine surprise
To those who sit today with their great Dead, hands in their hands
Eyes in their eyes
At one with Love, at one with Grief: blind to the scattered things
And changing skies.
[Charlotte Mew – May 1915]
This poem written nearly a 100 years ago expresses the hope for Spring and new life in the midst of death and sorrow. It was written in a time of war but sure feels like it could have been written yesterday for we have seen the pictures and the videos of those who sit today with their great Dead, hands in their hands, eyes in their eyes.

Such grief and tragedy, its almost too much to watch and then Spring comes again, hope in the rubble, a noise, and the rescuers dig and out comes a toddler, after 3 days of being buried, is alive and well, more Spring hope when supplies reach those in need.

There are times of hope and joy in the midst of such darkness and pain. But we have seen so much death and destruction and if those images from Haiti were not bad enough, such heart wrenching scenes of destruction, we then hear from the Rev. Pat Robertson who believes that Haiti suffered from a devastating earthquake because of its "pact with the devil” some 200 years ago. Sadly, whenever a terrible tragedy happens, some ask who is to blame – it happened after the tsunami in 2004, after Hurricane Katrina, and now after the Haitian earthquake. They must have done something to deserve such a tragedy…
Jim Wallis writes, "When evil strikes, it's easy to ask, where is God. The answer: God is suffering in the midst of the evil with those who are suffering."
Theologian David Bentley Hart wrote this upon reflecting on the great tsunami that struck Asia in 2004,
"We are to be guided by the full character of what is revealed of God in Christ. For, after all, if it is from Christ that we are to learn how God relates himself to sin, suffering, evil, and death, it would seem that he provides us little evidence of anything other than a regal, relentless, and miraculous enmity: sin he forgives, suffering he heals, evil he casts out, and death he conquers. And absolutely nowhere does Christ act as if any of these things are part of the eternal work or purposes of God."
That is, evil is not part of God’s plan, tragedy is not God’s way of working things out, God does willingly grieve God’s children. It is natural for us to ask where God is in all of this, and from our Scriptures, we would answer that God is in the rubble with the suffering because we know that is where Jesus would be. And when tragedy does strike, we are called to reach out and help those in need.

I think of the Wedding at Cana that we hear about in today’s Gospel. It wasn’t a tragedy but a celebration, a wedding, not only family, but all the villagers are there and in the midst of which, the wine gave out. No big deal – but for the family hosting the celebration – disgrace would be attached for not having enough; family dishonor. Enter Mary, Jesus’ mom. She tells Jesus the wine is gone. Hint, hint, help out…

Jesus isn’t concerned but Mary tells the servants to do whatever Jesus says. She forces the issue for Jesus to help out. And Jesus does – he does the first of his signs, the first of his miracles at the wedding in cana of galilee when the water turns into wine, good wine, a nice cabernet maybe. He doesn’t do it show off – in fact, he tries not to do anything – but he listens to his mother (shouldn’t we all?) and turns the situation from shame to joy.

Such service to those in need are what we are called on to do.

This week to help out, ARC had people send a text message from their phone - $10 to help with the relief effort – 1 million and counting gave that way – amazing! It took literally seconds and you made a difference. That is a small first step to help.

This past week, 2 parishioners, a father and daughter flew down with other college students to help rebuild a house in New Orleans. After Katrina and all the relief has come and gone, the long arduous task of recovery and rebuilding has begun there. Their work reminds us that right after tragedy comes the hard work to serve and rebuild, another important step.

On this MLK, Jr. weekend, we are reminded of his words that all life is interrelated and that we all can be great because we all can serve for this is another step, to volunteer our time, on a day off to help those around us in need be they in Monroe, Bridgeport or New Haven. As MLK said,
“And I know now that Jesus is right, that love is the way. And this is why John said, "God is love," so that he who hates does not know God, but he who loves at that moment has the key that opens the door to the meaning of ultimate reality. So this morning there is so much that we have to offer to the world.”
We have so much to offer, so today, let us follow Christ's call. Let us ill the emptiness of our lives, with the new wine that Jesus has made from the water of our lives and in that new wine is the Spirit, like a quenching fire that he has given to each us, these gifts of the spirit for our discipleship. We are blessed to use them for the common good, to help those in need in Monroe or Bridgeport, New Orleans or Haiti. Amen.

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