Monday, November 23, 2015

Sermon for Chapel on the Green (Nov. 22)

On this day when we think of Jesus as king – he doesn’t talk about power – he talks about truth in the Gospel. “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” The truth for us in our king is how we listen to Jesus and live out his ways by what we do. How do we do that? I think it starts with gratitude.
Tenzing Norgay was the Sherpa guide on Sir Edmund Hillary's historic climb of Mount Everest in May 1953. In his memoirs of that journey, Norgay writes that the team reached the summit at 11:30 on the morning of May 29, 1953. Norgay reports that Hillary reached for his camera and began taking dozens of pictures of different views from the summit, including a memorable photograph of Norgay standing atop the summit of the mountain the Nepalis call Sagarmatha, "goddess of the skies."

Then Norgay records his response - an incident which is never mentioned in any documentary or history of the historic journey. Norgay writes that, upon reaching the summit of Everest, he knelt in the snow and hollowed out a small hole. He reached into his pack, took out a small bar of candy, a blue and white pencil from his daughter Nimi, and a scarf given to Hillary by a fellow climber, and buried them as an offering. As he knelt in the snow, he whispered a prayer in his native tongue: "Thuji chey, chomilugma" – which means "I am grateful." ("The lure of the mountain: Death and divinity in the Himalayas" by Jon Magnuson. The Christian Century, February 19, 1998.)
Thanksgiving invites us to rediscover the many ways in which the love of God is revealed in our lives: in the life God breathes into our souls, in every wondrous work of creation formed by the hand of God, in the love of God dwelling among us in the love of family and friends and even strangers.

For no other reason than love so deep we cannot begin to fathom it, God has breathed his life into each of us. The only fitting response we can make to such inexplicable and unmerited love is to stand humbly before God like Tenzing Norgay and quietly, humbly say, “I am grateful.”

Such a spirit of thankfulness can transform cynicism and despair into optimism and hope and make whatever good we do an experience of grace. But too often we let our worries and fears over what we might lose and our disappointment and hurt over what we don't have overwhelm that spirit of gratitude.

In realizing such wonder, may our disappointments in life and our failure to see God's presence around us be transformed into an awareness of God's love and a spirit of gratitude for the precious gift of life we have received through no doing on our part and then share that gratitude by the love we give to one another. Amen.

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