‘Time to Go!’: a sermon on Mary’s song, Joseph’s census, & ‘Children, Go’

If that title suggests to you that this sermon might be trying to do too much…well, I probably can’t argue with you. It’s probably not my best. Still, though, I thought the conclusion was actually pretty good. Poignant, even. I’m not sure my congregation agreed. Maybe it was too on the nose? (If so, just wait until you hear my Christmas Eve sermon!)

For Advent this year, our study groups read Mary Had a Baby by Cheryl Kirk-Duggan & Marilyn E. Thornton (photo above). So we based our Advent worship gatherings on the book too. That’s why our readings didn’t follow a lectionary (neither Narrative nor Revised Common) — we used the scripture and the spiritual referenced in each chapter. This week those were Luke 2:1-7 and “Children, Go Where I Send Thee.” But I also wanted to talk about the original Advent song: Luke 1:46-55.*

My intended thesis (quoting author Arundhati Roy),

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

came as a result of reading Fred Clark’s Advent series.

Info on the route Mary and Joseph might have taken came largely from Adam Hamilton’s book, The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem.

Here’s the audio:

What did you think, was the conclusion over the top?

We can hear this new world breathing every time we become aware of those movements into freedom and justice too.

This new world, she takes a breath every time a parolee puts on a new suit.** 

This new world, she takes a breath every time a person experiencing a mental illness receives support and treatment. 

She takes a breath every time a lonely child is welcomed at a lunch table.

She takes a breath every time a grieving person is comforted. 

She takes a breath every time a woman is believed when she reports abuse. 

This new world, she takes a breath every time a hungry child gets a free meal at school.

This new world, she takes a breath every time a person experiencing homelessness receives not just a meal and shelter but a kind word.

She takes a breath every time a refugee or asylum seeker finds a safe place to stay like Mary & Joseph & Jesus did.

She takes a breath every time a law or an accepted practice meant to keep an African American “in their place” is repealed or dismantled.

She takes a breath every time one of us sees the humanity in someone who is different from them.

She takes a breath every time one of us recognizes that those we oppose are struggling too.

She takes a breath every time we break down a barrier or reach across an aisle of divide.

 

*Yes, we read that one from The Message. I really liked the way it rendered verse 52: “knocked tyrants off their high horses, pulled victims out of the mud.” Seemed the best way to reckon with Trump’s America.

**That’s a thing, I’m proud to say, Woodridge UMC is helping to make happen.

Finding home, living forever

Do you want to your faith to matter? Matter both to you and to the world? Do you want your life to be full, meaningful, deep, resonant, beautiful, everlasting?

jesus reading

I asked this in my Jan. 27 sermon. I said that to answer those questions in the affirmative means making Jesus’ way our home. What is Jesus’ way? He declared it himself in his first public speech according to Luke’s Gospel. Reading from Isaiah 61 (though interpreting it to best reflect the Way he embodied), Jesus said:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed to free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. – Luke 4:18-19

Want your faith to matter and your life to be everlasting? Then make this way of Jesus your home. Take Jesus mission statement, his thesis, this synopsis of his life’s purpose and work, take this and make it your mission statement, your thesis. Make it your life’s purpose.

That day I shared a poem written in response to that scripture. I often find I’m too dense to get most poetry, but this is too beautiful not to share.

A Prophet’s Blessing by Jan L. Richardson
This blessing finds its way behind the bars.

This blessing works its way beneath the chains.

This blessing knows its way through a broken heart.

This blessing makes a way where there is none.

Where there is no light, this blessing.

Where there is no hope, this blessing.

Where there is no peace, this blessing.

Where there is nothing left, this blessing.

In the presence of hate.

In the absence of love.

In the torment of pain.

In the grip of fear.

To the one in need.

To the one in the cell.

To the one in the dark.

To the one in despair.

Let this blessing come as bread.

Let this blessing come as release.

Let this blessing come as sight.

Let this blessing come as freedom.

Let this blessing come.

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May this blessing, this way of abundant, meaningful, everlasting life – this home – spring forth into life in and through me, in and through you, in and through us.