Sermon for June 7, 2020

       The story in Scripture describing Creation divides our Lord’s process into 7 stages, designated as ‘days,’ in the narrative.   The marvelous thing is that as each stage, with it’s own amazing changes and additions to what was brought forth previously, EACH is considered, and affirmed by God, as “GOOD.”  That’s of course, good news for us, because somewhere during what is designated “the sixth day, our God spoke forth OUR antecedents, and in the incomprehensible LOVE and HOPE of our Creator, God affirmed creation as “… indeed, VERY GOOD!”   I think that’s why God is so   strongly present at the birth of a child – because God always has so very much hope for each and every one of us!  And we all experience the magnitude of God’s love in the manifold blessings we recognize in each of OUR lives, even in the midst of sad and troubling times.

       We now experience, each of us, in some ways, or perhaps, in many ways, grief, pain, fear of the violence and destruction of which we hear;  illness, death, deprivation, mild or severe, and perhaps MOST difficult, a sense of painful separation:  from one another, from those closest and most beloved; from our accustomed practices, certainly from our parish family and the active and beloved worship, study, interaction, AND the projects we so happily undertake in service to God and to one another.  Our beloved CHURCH is VERY much how we live our lives!  And we desperately MISS that, and long for the rapid return of “LIFE AS WE KNEW IT, before the covid 19 virus.  We fear for our children, and all those whom we love.  We applaud the integrity, the bravery, and the courage of those people whose daily life and livelihood expose them routinely to disease and danger.  We are AMAZED  at their steadfast faithfulness.   Truly, all these heroic souls MUST have internalized Christ’s promise in today’s Gospel to be with us ALWAYS! 

       And we, too, ought to hold that promise close to OUR hearts.  Consider the Creation story:  God examines every aspect of Creation and deems it good.  God is pleased – probably not necessarily with ALL that we do, but clearly with the potential, and the possibilities, with which God has endowed each one of us.  Think of the joy we have in each child  - not only in our own, but in each little one with whom we are associated.  If WE have such joy, how great, then, is God’s joy in each one of us, God’s own children?  God did NOT call forth Creation in order to condemn it! 

     When we contemplate the Creation in which we live, the infinite complexity, the immeasurable and incomprehensible creation of which we are a tiny part, how could we imagine that our Lord, who brought forth all this, infinite in detail and design, did so, simply to destroy?  Did not our Lord Christ remind us that in the Temple, two tiny birds of small size and insignificant value, perhaps two for a penny, were known infinitely and intimately by our Creator.  Would such a Creator create only to destroy?   

     Our problems, our troubles, do not stem from God.  Creation has long endured war, disease, famine, destruction and disaster.  Much of human grief comes from humanity.  Jesus warned us of this, and indeed, Jesus suffered from it. We are horrified by the reports of violence and death humans inflict upon one another. And we grieve for both victim and also for those whose brokenness leads them to violence.   And yet, millennia after millennia, creation endures, by the grace of God, despite humanity. I always learn from my parishioners.  One young man came up after a service and said, “Pastor, the whole trouble is ‘that free-will thing, isn’t it?”  “Looks like it to me, buddy.”  Then in another parish, a sweet, gentle soul, whom I later learned was in her mid-late 80’s, stopped after the service, and said, “Pastor Susan, I think all the troubles we have come down to human greed, don’t you think?”  “Yes, Ma’am. I do believe so.” 

     God did not build destruction into creation, God built amazing love, joy, beauty, substance, goodness, grace and plenty for all creation. “Lo, I am with you, even to the end of the world,” says Jesus.  That’s really all we need to know.  That alone will allow us to set aside fear, and to recall that Jesus gave us marching orders.  “Go, people, teach every one you encounter ALL that I have taught you. Baptize them, send them out also, and remind them that I am with each one of you always and forever. 

     Last week the readings for morning prayer included a passage from Matthew’s Gospel as well.   In that passage Jesus has encountered a pair of demoniacs, who have terrorized the country side, and people could not come near them.  But the resident contingent of demons instantly recognized Christ, and first complained that Jesus’ presence was earlier than originally scheduled.  The demons evidently thought they therefore had leverage, so they asked that they be cast into a herd of swine, as opposed to being cast into outer darkness.  Jesus obliged, and the swine and tag-along demons went off into the deep water and were drowned. Teaching moment: Gotta watch what ya ask for.  Next, the swine-herders, run into the nearby town, tell the story, and the entire village comes out to run Jesus off!  This passage has always STUNNED me!  Let’s see, now.  So the Lord and Creator of all that is, was, and is yet to be, has just run off a whole gang of truly dangerous wicked, evil critters.  Thanks to Jesus, these bad-actors are well and truly GONE! So, where is the band?  Where is the cheering crowd and the ubiquitous ticker-tape parade?  What are WE to conclude from this?  Could this entire village actually prefer the demons they know, to the hitherto unseen Holy One?  The Most High? Okay, so they don’t know that Jesus has come to redeem creation, some of which knows full well it’s need of redemption, some of which clearly failed to grasp the concept.  But it appears these folks are choosing a known evil over God’s call to abundantlife in GOD’S constant presence.  Sometimes I think, as a species, we’re ALL wacked. 

       BUT Our Creator calls us GOOD, and calls all creation GOOD. A Creator of LOVE, HOPE, and BLESSING, NOT destruction! A Creator to see us through Covid-19, through all the grief, pain, hunger, AND our longing for the restoration of our parish family life.  {although I still believe that if we would outfit the whole parish family in hazmat suits, we could resume our joyous parish family interaction.}  Our God LOVES us, folks!  GOD thinks we’re worthwhile!  And God will get us through WHATEVER comes up.  We KNOW GOD WINS!  And when God wins, so do we!  THANKS BE TO GOD!

 

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