Like a gracious host offering gifts and hospitality, the plants we encounter daily, often without our noticing, are offering up food and medicine and beauty for any who have need. It is quite humbling if you think about it, enough to bring you to your knees in gratitude, both metaphorically, or literally by the side of the road in the moss, between the fir trees.
If Womanist and Liberationist theology does anything, it points to the liberating message Jesus lived and preached, the very radical message and life that got him hung on the cross in the first place. Jesus lived so that, as his mother sang, the power structures of this world might be inverted, the hungry might be filled with good things and the rich and powerful dethroned and sent away empty.
What’s more, like Mother Theresa or Martin Luther King, we can see in the lives of the saints, how their capacity to love is a real possibility, not remote or out of touch among the angels, but here, now, in our real lives amidst real struggle. We too can love like they did. Their love, like that of Jesus, does not exalt itself, but, rather, descends down further into the need and pain of the world.
A forewarning before I begin. This morning’s sermon discusses the issue of abortion. Because I know this difficult topic can raise intense feelings and trigger memories of past experiences and pain, I felt it was important to name it at the outset.
We don’t pray to ourselves or to some unknown other. We pray to a God, experienced in the person of Jesus, who desires among other things, that we not lose heart. We pray to a God who can be known and experienced, a God with whom we can wrestle and against whom we can rage. We pray to a God with whom we can have a deep and intimate relationship, who seeks to be known and one with us.
Faith comes to us through our life in a community and it is in the midst of this people, the body, that we are entrusted to carry it forward, serving and loving and healing the world. And, what’s more, none of this is possible without our connection to Jesus or by the power of the Spirit… Faith should always point to the reality that we belong to each other and to the God we know as love in the flesh who has come to us and claimed us as his own.
Around the world as here at home, the flow of goods, means, monies, and resources, is stopped up and held in stagnant pools. And, while there are exceptions that prove the rule, the church has largely left this process unquestioned and unchecked, benefiting and profiting from it as we have over the millennia. We have ignored the very teachings of Jesus which envisions and hopes for a world where resources and money are not accumulated but distributed. Where the flow of health and wealth isn’t directed at the followers of Jesus and the church that purports to follow in his name, but rather passes through us and out to a world desperately in need of healing and hope.
The costs of following Jesus include all we possess, and all we hold dear. But like a mother concerned for her children, Jesus seems to believe that the old ways, the ways of neighbor love and welcoming the stranger, the ways of treating everything as gift instead of possession, the ways of grace and peace, are ways worth passing along, worth giving our lives over to. Choose these ways, he is saying. Choose life.
When I was 12 I lit a beach on fire. I’m sure I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating. I was bored and without playmates and I found myself for one reason or another at the small lagoon near our home, meandering along the beach when the dry grass at the shores edge caught my eye. I had some matches in my pocket and without wondering whether or not I should, or why, I was soon engaged in the ever so risky practice of lighting small fires among the grass, watching with curiosity as it spread slowly outward from a single match.