Monday, July 25, 2011

July 24 Sermon

I had a great time at Camp Washington, got home in the heat. Wow! 100 degrees! Then I heard the news about the attack in Norway. Norway? A terrible tragedy. As more and more details about the attacker come forth, I have begun to wonder about the seeds that were sown in his soul.

From what I have seen from the news, the seeds were filled with much hate, against the immigrants coming to his country, against Muslims, but why he attacked Norway in the way he did, we still don’t know. Sadly, we have seen the fruit of his hate. What are the seeds that we plant? What are the seeds planted in us? Jesus used a parable about a seed to talk about the kingdom of God…
"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."
Mustard seed – tiny! From this tiny seed – the greatest of shrubs… That bursting forth, from nearly nothing to something that gives life is what the Kingdom of God is all about. I think of a story I first learned three years ago…
In 1992, the beautiful city of Sarajevo was being torn apart in the ethnic strife of the Bosnian civil war. On the afternoon of May 27, a bomb was dropped on one of the last functioning bakeries in the city - 22 people who were waiting patiently to buy bread were killed. Vedran Smajlović witnessed the bombing from his apartment window. He was horrified and enraged at the massacre. But what could he do? He was not a politician or soldier. He was a musician, an accomplished cellist. All he knew was music.

So that is what he did for 22 days ­- one day for each of those killed - Smajlović played at the same spot. Every evening after that, at 4 P.M., the time of the fatal explosion, the 37-year-old cellist, dressed formally as if for a concert performance, took his cello to the site of the crater created by the bomb. And there he would play one of his favorite pieces, Albinoni's "Adagio in G minor." All around him mortar shells and bullets would fly, but he would continue to play. He played for the sake of human dignity that is the first casualty of war. He played for life, for peace, for hope. He was also known for playing for free at different funerals during the siege, even though such funerals would often be targeted by enemy fire.

Today, Vedran Smajlović is revered as a hero by the people of Sarajevo. A statue of a musician, sitting on a chair and playing a cello, was erected on the spot where Smajlović first played. But Smajlović says in all humility, "I am nothing special. I am a musician, I am part of the town. Like everyone else, I do what I can."
He could have been swallowed by hate, instead, seeds of life and hope were planted by Smajlovic, using his God given talent, to a weary and worn torn city. What happened at Camp Washington this past week was planting such seeds.

And I am not just talking about my role. As chaplain I did lead the worship, both the morning formation period and the Compline that ended each night. And seeds were planted there. But the staff, through the love and compassion they shared with each camper, the fun times and the free play they engaged in. To the activities that each child signed up for, led by a staff member whose gifts helped them enjoy their activity. All that went on, even the space of Camp Washington helped them enjoy themselves in the beauty of God’s creation. Many seeds of life were planted this week, seeds of God’s love and understanding one’s self in God’s creation.

The tragedy in Norway gives me pause to think about the seeds we plant in our children, and those seeds of faith that we have in our lives. But it isn’t about the past or the future. It is about the Kingdom of God right now…
I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field for
a while, and gone my way and forgotten it.
But that was the pearl of great price, the one field
that had treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have to possess it.
Life is not hurrying on to a receding future,
nor hankering after an imagined past.
It is the turning aside like Moses
to the miracle of the lit bush,
to a brightness that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

~ The Bright Field by R. S. Thomas ~

No comments: