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.
There came a point, some time back in the pandemic, staring out at an empty room, at yet another live streamed service, when I was certain I could not remember what it was like to have the nave full of beaming faces, and I could not imagine when it would be like that again. Yet, here you are – neither a memory nor imagined, but alive, here, in the flesh! Alleluia Christ is Risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Yesterday, some of us were a part of a Lenten Retreat given by Saint Johns for our Older Wiser Laity, our OWLs, wherein several members made presentations in art, and song, and poetry on the Seven Last Words of Christ. One of those presentations we were privileged to hear, by our own Dr. Paula Cooey, drew from her decades of experience teaching an ethics course at Macalester College, called “Love and Death.”
I was reminded recently of an Ash Wednesday, during my time in seminary working at Trinity Wall Street. Between services, volunteers of the church, lay and ordained, would stand for hours in the nave, administering ashes to any as wanted to receive.
I’ve been thinking about my garden a lot lately, sitting out on the edge of my front yard and on the boulevard near the curb, the ground still and frozen, resting under a blanket of snow. Lent, as Barbara reminded us last Sunday, shares its meaning with the natural season of Spring, drawing as it does from the same root for “length” – as the daylight lengthens and the earth slowly tilts on its axis in the northern hemisphere toward the warmth of a distant sun.
Love your enemies…Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Perhaps no other command in scripture is more important than these for upending the damaging ways of the world and initiating the realm of God we so desperately need and even occasionally desire. I would hazard that these commands, given today by Jesus in the context of his great Sermon on the Plain, are even more important than the Great Commandments: to love God and love neighbor as yourself.
Our hands were numb from the coal black waters and the repeated stings of the small clear jellyfish shredded in the net’s thin monofilament lines. We were well into the cold fall day, pulling nets at the mouth of the Klawock river, seining the late run of sockeye salmon that the local natives depended upon as a source of tradition and food.
This morning we hear again the story of how Jesus transformed water into wine. This is a sermon in which we will remember the water.
Given the events of this week, I hope you will indulge me for just a moment to begin this sermon by retelling the story of the three wise men as if told by the Golden Girls.
Sophia Petrillo opens our tale:
Picture it, Jerusalem, first century, and three kings are following a star.