Sermons by Deacon Carenda Baker
What does it mean to you that St. Andrew’s is a faith community that has identified the importance of healing in its ministry and life together?
I think we all have a story to tell of how it is we came to follow Jesus, how we came to “get in the boat with him”, as we hear in today’s gospel. As best I can recall, I was 7 years old when I first made a conscious faith commitment to “get into that boat” and follow Jesus. Well, my life experience at 7 years old was certainly pretty limited. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into by simply saying, “Yes, Jesus, come into my heart; I want to follow you”.
A 4 year-old boy was learning to pray the Lord’s Prayer. He began: “Our Father, who art in Heaven: How do you know my name?” I’m wondering: Can you think of an instance in your life when you had at least a sneaking suspicion, or maybe it was crystal clear to you, that God knows YOUR name? That God the Spirit was reaching out to you and waiting for you to recognize this and respond?
Do you know that your perspective in life can make all the difference in the world? Take, for example the little boy who got lost at the YMCA and found himself walking into the women’s locker room. When he was spotted, the room burst into shrieks, with ladies grabbing towels and running for cover. The little boy watched in amazement and then asked, “What’s the matter? Haven’t you ever seen a little boy before?”
Where did you first encounter the goodness of God? Maybe it was in your family at home, through a relationship with a parent or grandparent, or a favorite aunt or uncle. Maybe it was in that other sacred text which reveals God and God’s Word to us – the beauty of the natural, created world. Maybe it was through art or music, poetry or dance. Perhaps it was in a particular church or group that helped form you.
WELCOME, dear ones! We are gathered once again here in precious HOLY SPACE. HOLY SPACE, IN HOLY TIME, TO STAND AGAIN ON HOLY GROUND. I have already removed my shoes; I invite you to do the same at any point. We are gathered here as part of God’s family, part of the St. Andrew’s family, and for some of us, as part of our individual human families. We have gathered to enter again into the HOLY MYSTERY of God’s love, lavishly and completely poured out in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, our Savior and Lord.
I invite you to take a journey with me today. Let’s call it a “grace odyssey”, because it is a gift, and God has already initiated it. Like any good adventure, you can expect at least one crisis along the way – a place that holds – at one and the same time – both danger and opportunity. One possible danger could be that you realize you have come to the end of your own limited resources and can no longer go it alone. The opportunity, at that point then, will be to open yourself to receive from the abundance of grace all that God has to offer you: healing, forgiveness, reconciliation, comfort, new direction, deeper love, renewed faith.
Have you ever had the experience of hearing a melody, or a bit of a song in your head, and it just seems to take lodge in your mind, playing over and over and over again? That happened to me this past week. And though it has happened before, this time was different.
A young father asked his 7 yr. old daughter to clean up her room during their usual Saturday morning family chore time. She emerged from her room after 5 minutes and said to him, “I’m done! Can I watch TV?” Suspicious, he went to investigate. Her room indeed, looked clean and pristine.
In the name of God: Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. Amen. The Rev. Albert Aymer, who was academic dean of Drew Theological School when I attended seminary there, was fond of opening his classes with the question: “SO – WHAT’S THE GOOD NEWS?” “What IS the good news?” How would YOU answer that question?