Mother Katherine’s sermon preached on July 4, 2021

Posted by on Sun, Jul 4, 2021 in Season after Pentecost, Sermons

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

July 4, 2021

May our eyes look to the Holy One our God and find God’s mercy. Amen.

We come to this Independence Day, on the heals of federal recognition of “Juneteenth National Independence Day” and I give thanks for the wideness of respect and honor these days stand for. This year especially reminds one of how history shapes us all, and how powerful a role human authorship plays. Although secular holidays, both also illustrate how we are never ‘independent’ of God. We can be both proud of and ashamed of specific aspects of our heritage and history, including these two great days. But, it is in going back before all of it, to origins predating any nationality, that we know our common ancestry in God our Creator. In this we are all kin.

Our context and relationships can always make us better people, sometimes by their goodness other times by our seeing what not to do, mostly we are products of both. Have you ever gone to your childhood home or to be with parents only to discover that rather than being an adult person of good character, you’re 12 years old again? Sometimes we rediscover a feeling of love we’ve missed, traditions and treasures we forgot were meaningful and which shaped us in those tender years. —And yet, old familial tensions may also spark to life, childhood nicknames and stories may revive embarrassment or hurt. One woman was told how to sweep, in spite of her Ph.D. and three children. Sadly the idea of ‘home’ or history for many means revisiting pain, abuse, or crippling obstacles to knowing oneself and living as a beloved child of God. As God’s creation.

This morning our entrance rite is drawn from Psalm 123, and in those lines our self-awareness is recast. 

As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, and the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Holy One our God, until God show us mercy.                                                             

We all have the same Holy One as parent, no matter who raised us, and so “our eyes look to the Holy One our God, until God show us mercy.” Before becoming someone’s children, we are children of God, and always will be. I reflected on this as my parents died, and as I see our young people growing up. The Church is one of the few places where this gift of grace is recognized, explored, magnified, honored. Jeremy was an 8 year old boy in a Communion class I taught. Behavioral problems were stirred by a very rough divorce and contentious visitation. He felt like a pawn torn between father, mother, and new stepdad. One class session we played ‘stump the priest,’ and assured of anonymity these 2nd and 3rd graders wrote out their questions. Fr. John took the stack (which even I hadn’t read) and began discussion turning one page over at a time, until a question struck him silent; “Why was I even born?” He scanned their faces and asked who wrote it. Before I could remind him of the promised privacy, Jeremy claimed it, trying to act like he was too cool to care. That priest looked at him with such love that it could only be from God and said, “Jeremy, you were born because God thought you were a very good idea!” He said even before any of them had parents, a body, or home, God knew their souls and loved them. Most very young children form their idea of God by how they see their parent or grandparent figures; they seem all-knowing, all-capable, all-powerful, and hopefully, they love unconditionally. The Jeremy’s of this world may need to know God more directly for themselves from the start. It doesn’t undo what happened, but shows us we are made from more than what happened to us. Now we co-create ourselves.

In the Gospel today Jesus is back in his home town, teaching in the synagogue, and having a tough time of it. They don’t see him as a great teacher, he’s just Mary and Jospeh’s son, they know his brothers and sisters. Isn’t he the son who at 31 still doesn’t have a steady job, a wife, children, or a home!? Hearing he “could do no deed of power there” except for healing a few sick people, I wonder if he too felt pressed back into the child they once knew. Then being “amazed at their unbelief,” he is reconnected with the God who sent him. Grounded not in others’ presumptions, but in the strength of his call and the entirety of who he knows himself to be, it is their unbelief that occupies him, not his failure to work miracles. Perhaps this awareness is what he is trying to teach the disciples later; to go forth in companionable pairs and to be just as they are. Carry out what you are called to do, and if people refuse to receive the gifts of God you bring, so be it. It helps no one to carry their dust with you. For you are, before all else, a beloved child of God in whom the Holy Spirit has been implanted and through whom it be made known!

© 2021 The Rev. Katherine Sedwick. All rights reserved.