Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sermon: Souper Bowl Sunday

Give us grace, O Lord, not only to hear your Word with our ears, but also to receive it into our hearts & to show it forth in our lives; for the glory of your great name. Amen.
I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I; send me!"
The call: We all have felt that call to go, to help in God’s name. We have had parishioners go to New Orleans and Russia and Puerto Rico to help. We have given food supplies to the Monroe food pantry, clothes to Ansonia, money to help soup kitchens in Bridgeport & New Haven.

The Vestry has discussed that call and its importance to our mission and ministry and in March we will discuss mission as a parish at a breakfast on March 21. As Ann Robinson wrote, “to enter into a relational mission by involving ourselves directly with the lives of others, not only helping them but allowing them to teach us about a new culture, new food, new music.” It is that relational connection that is important to our work. As Bono of U2 has said about work in Africa, which applies to us too, what is needed is partnership and not paternalism.

We have seen the tragedy unfold in Haiti and we all have felt that tug to help; many have donated $. Sadly, some took it too far and didn’t think through their actions. As that old proverb says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” And the missionaries from Idaho find themselves in jail in Haiti – for many of them heard that call to go and save children and went out in love but they didn’t do it in partnership with anyone down there and failed to see that their actions may be kidnapping. As one writer put it,
“Perhaps now they will begin to understand what it means to live alongside the poor, as opposed to swooping into a disaster for a quick “feel-good Christian moment” designed to make them feel better about themselves. Hopefully, other groups will rally to do the real work that is still so urgently needed, and make a long-term commitment to bring life and stability to Haiti and its children who are in desperate need of it.” (Anthea Butler)
That is what our hope is in our mission to make a long term commitment to not only affect change and help but also to change ourselves too. It is what we are called to do by God in the march to end extreme poverty in our world. As Bono sings…
Only love can leave such a mark
But only love
Only love unites our hearts

It is out of love that we are called to help and only love can unite us and can help heal those who have been scared. For our calling is from our baptism, that we are to reach out in love to those in need, just as Jesus called his disciples to do. That’s why on this day, a day where revel in football (Go Lions!), we join other faith communities, schools and community groups around the nation to remember those who go hungry every day, and help fight hunger and poverty in our local communities, by what we collect and give away, both money and canned goods. If indeed we are going to make poverty history, then we must tackle the issue at home and abroad, we need to stand up and take our part. In the words of Bono & U2: I got to stand up and take a step
You and I have been asleep for hours
I can stand up for hope, faith, love
C'mon, ye people - Stand up for your love
God is love - And love is evolution's very best day
We know that what we do is out of love & we also know that the powers that be in this world are not always in sync with that, as the Woody Guthrie song puts it, "Well if Jesus was to preach what he preached at Galilee, They would lay Jesus Christ in His Grave."

We know it will not always be joyous or easy but our song is Hallelujah, our song it’s a Beautiful Day, our song is that we are one step closer to knowing. As St. Paul said in last week’s reading, “For we know only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.” And in that end, we will be where the streets have no name, for we all long for the Kingdom of God where peace & justice reign. Even if, at times, we lose our way…
Once I knew there was a love divine
Then came a time I thought it knew me not
Who can forgive forgiveness where forgiveness is not
Only the lamb as white as snow
For that lamb is Jesus and until that day when Love comes back to town to take us home, it is God who looks to us to come in love, to help fill the hungry, to aid the poor, the sick, those in need, for everyone to get taste of the Kingdom of God in our time. And in the words of the Psalmist…
I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay
I will sing, sing a new song - How long to sing this song?
That song of hope that we sing is what we do when we reach out in love in God’s name. Amen.

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