Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sermon on the 14th Sunday after Trinity (from the preaching conference)

John 17:18-23
As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me, through their word, that they may be all one. As you, Father, are in me, and I in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

This is sustainment. This is nourishment. Knowing this makes it all alright.
But the hurt does not go away.

/Talk about different ways families can be dysfunctional…/

We are a family divided by centuries of hate, misunderstanding, greed and simple stupidity. We are siblings too hurt to talk, mothers and fathers absent. We are children abused by loss of hope.

So we bring our hurts with us. We carry our differences proudly, wear them like badges on our different robes and albs. Sometimes we write them with bold letters on our church bulletin boards, other times we badmouth each other all over the Internet. The Christian community. A family divided.
You know it all…/different ways to create/sustain differences/

For me, being Church of Sweden Lutheran, is so important, a decision so major in my life, that I cannot let go of that sense of rightness. I really do believe we got it right. How then do I meet another? How do I acknowledge her sense of rightness? How do I see sisterhood and not sibling rivalry?

And yet. Jesus tells us we should be one. Not as one. But to the world, we are not. And among ourselves, we find it so hard to acknowledge that unity.
How then can I say that this is nourishment?

Because Jesus tells me he loves me. And he tells me he has sent me into the world. Straight through centuries of editing and canonizing, Jesus talks to me. And just like he talks to me, he talks to you. Because we, sister, are one. One in the Spirit, one in vocation, one in womanhood and humanity. We breathe the same air.

This is not a text about ecumenism. It is a text about family.
It’s not about structures merging, it’s about breathing together, living together.

So there. This is sustainment. We are to become one, because the Lord God already is in us. We already are one, because Jesus loves us. And we are called to go out in the world.

So tell them this, sister, because these are the words of God, through you, the prophet:

I am your sister. I am your mother and daughter. I am in your wounded pride and your failings. I am in your dancing joy. I am the one that was and is and shall be. I am in you and all around. I am heaven and earth. And I join you together. I make you one in my image.
Because I love you with all of my heart, with all of my mind.
Know this. I am God. And I love you.

Tell them this, sister. You are the prophet. And we are one.


Pastor Scott A. Moore said...

I am soooo digging these words right now in this moment. I have so often struggled, myself, with the idea that this text should be about structures (which we hear quite a lot). But the strongly heart-centered emphasis on being the family of God, along with the images of "breathing the same air" and being prophets...has had quite a mystical effect on me right now. Thanks!

Maria said...

Thank you right back. Your comment means the world to me.

It is a sermon written for a very special occasion (which you know), but in the deeper sense it should be true for every occasion. At least I, in my enormous humility, think so ;)