Sermons on hope
Jesus claims the meaning of being named the Son of God in today’s scriptures. We explore what it means to live in and be propelled through the gap between who we claim to be and who God desires us to become.
We all know this Christmas pageant story and we know that the shepherds found the face of salvation in a manger. I often imagine the story is told this way because it was the one place where the shepherds would have felt comfortable – in a stable, with the smell of fresh hay filling their nostrils, with the sounds of the donkeys braying and cows mooing, and sheep bleating, and the animals would have known them. If Jesus had been…
The other odd thing about Advent is that our scriptures for the 1st week of Advent, the beginning of our church year, start out with the texts of Jesus right before he’s crucified. Maybe this makes sense, maybe it’s a statement that, for Jesus’ death on the cross to mean new life for us is emerging, we have to put the end of life, Jesus’ crucifixion, up against and connected to the anticipation of new life – his birth in…
There was another party going on in town that night. One where the rejected, the tired, the weary, the lonely, the ones who mourn, the poor in spirit, the meek, the peacemakers were gathered, where the healing love of Jesus flowed through and around them, where they anointed each other, maybe not with expensive oil, but with tears of joy, for Jesus was with them. The church shows up, our church shows up when we readily offer ourselves and our resources to each other, when we ask the question, “What do you need?” or “How can I support you in the cold dark night, where fear and trembling settle in upon your soul and weigh you down like a heavy down comforter, almost making it difficult to breath?” The church shows up, our church shows up, when we acknowledge our vulnerability before God and each other, or when we acknowledge that we can’t be prepared for everything, and instead chose to trust that it is Jesus who opens the door, invites us in, and prepares the feast.
And yet, how can our compassionate hearts not meet these people in the complex layer that lies behind, or beneath, or alongside our rationality in these situations? How do our hearts not break for Hagar, cast out into the wilderness to watch her child die? How could I not have enfolded in my arms that young mother who was allowing a family to be born for others, but not for her. How can we pretend there are children in our societies who go unprotected due to the enslaved condition of their mothers? We can’t and we shouldn’t. We can’t and we shouldn’t dismiss the grief of anyone, whether there were actions or circumstances that should have foretold the impending despair.
Laughter can mask all sorts of hard emotions: shame or embarrassment, and also injury. Maybe the words of the visitor stung her deep inside, broke her heart once again, his words awakening in her the passionate yearning she had for her own baby, and it seemed like the visitor’s words were mocking her, for she was 90 years old and knew that she could no longer bear children. How often do we hear God’s call and almost wish we didn’t, for once awakened, we know we must respond, and sometimes that just doesn’t seem possible? We almost wish the yearning had not been placed in our heart, when we don’t think we can give It birth.