Salt & Light

img_3178

Pastor Megan invites us to kneel at the feet of Jesus and hear just the word we need to hear on this hard post-election week.

Listen here.
Download here.

 

13 November 2016
Sermon: Peace Sunday
© Megan M. Ramer

I do not presume that all of us in this room think alike in all matters.
In fact, I presume we differ in quite a few ways on quite a few matters.
I do not presume that all of us in this room voted alike.
In fact, I presume we did not.

Regardless of what each one of us thinks,
regardless of how each one of us voted,
it has been my experience that many of us this week are grieving,
shocked,
fearful – and even terrified in some cases,
despondent – and even despairing in some cases.

In the Body of Christ, when one of us weeps, all of us weep.
And so: Today we weep with those who weep.

Today, we claim Christ as our center,
our hope when we feel no hope,
our comfort when we are inconsolable,
the one – and the only one – to whom we pledge our allegiance.

Today, we claim Christ as our Prince of Peace,
our harbinger of justice when oppression overwhelms,
our inspiration when we are paralyzed by grief,
the one – and the only one – whose radical Way we seek to follow.

Thankfully: long before the events of the past week,
we decided to observe Peace Sunday today.
We weren’t able to on the Sunday nearest the International Day of Peace in September,
as has been our practice and the practice of many Christian churches the globe over,
because we were in the midst of our own Biblical Jubilee series.
Rather than simply skipping Peace Sunday this year,
we – I now believe, moved by the Spirit – decided to delay.

To today.
A very good day, it turns out, to claim that Christ is our peace,
and that we are Christ’s peacemakers here on earth.
Thanks be to God.

I confess that I don’t really know what to say to you today.
I’ve spent a great deal of time in the past days fretting over this task, in fact.

By all accounts, this election cycle has been particularly nasty.
And since Tuesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center has documents
an eruption of incidents of harassment and hateful intimidation.
How do we come through to the other side of this demoralizing political season –
our souls beaten and battered, worn and weary –
and find ways to love each other well?
How do we enter this new political season in our country –
a country deeply divided and broken,
the curtain pulled back on deep roots of hatefulness –
and find ways to love each other well?

To be clear,
and to echo many other white pastors preaching to mostly white congregations this morning:
We don’t preach hate here.
We don’t teach or tolerate hate here.
Those who follow Christ Jesus are called to stop the slinging of stones.
That is who we attempt to be here.

Thankfully: long before the events of the past week,
our Peace Sunday gospel reading was already chosen.
Words from Jesus.
So that I don’t need to figure out what to say.
But can simply – along with each one of you – kneel at the feet of Jesus and listen.

I had a good friend in seminary who was Jewish.
She taught me the Jewish midrash about the reason why God writes God’s covenant,
God’s law,
God’s promise on our hearts, as is written in Jeremiah.
The reason God writes God’s word on our hearts
is so that when our hearts break,
the words will be able to fall into our hearts and fill them.

If your heart is a little or a lot broken this morning,
let these familiar, beloved words of Jesus flood into your heart:

‘You are the salt of the earth;
but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?
It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

‘You are the light of the world.
A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.
No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand,
and it gives light to all in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Maker in heaven.’

Healing, encouraging words from Jesus.
They are like balm.
And they pierce me.
And they are like balm.

You are salt.
Be salty.
Flavor what is bland,
preserve goodness and sustenance that would otherwise rot.
You, friends, are salt.
Be salty.

You are light.
Be light.
Boldly on your lampstand.
Shine before others.
Illuminate what lies in shadows,
generate warmth in otherwise cold corners.
You, friends, are light.
Be light.

And when you just can’t muster your salty,
hang out in close proximity to some salty.
Salty tends to rub off…

And when you just can’t muster your light,
hang out in close proximity to some light.
Light both radiates and draws in…

And when you not only can’t muster your own salty and light,
but you also can’t seem to find the energy
to get yourself into close proximity of another’s salty or light,
recall these iconic words from the great Leonard Cohen who died this week,
one who – always – looked directly into the face of suffering
and insisted on creating beauty.

“Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”

Today – and everyday – we claim Christ as our center,
our hope when we feel no hope,
our comfort when we are inconsolable,
the one – and the only one – to whom we pledge our allegiance.

Today – and everyday – we claim Christ as our Prince of Peace,
our harbinger of justice when oppression overwhelms,
our inspiration when we are paralyzed by grief,
the one – and the only one – whose radical Way we seek to follow.

Today – and everyday – we kneel at the feet of Jesus
and hear just the word that we need to hear.
Today – and everyday – God’s word falls into our broken hearts
and a little light radiates out through the cracks.

May it be so.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s