Sunday, February 28, 2016

How Do We Brighten Dismal Lives?

Homily by The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA
29 Nov. 2015, Advent 1 Year C: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-9; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36

As we greet this Advent season, this season of anticipation, we say goodbye to this Thanksgiving weekend & ask:
Q: Why can't you take a turkey to church?
A: They use fowl language!*

* Joke is from a cracker like this at left, which our family enjoys popping open at holidays to find jokes & prizes  inside.
Life would be dismal without laughter. Without laughter, life would be unhealthy. One good belly laugh raises the immune system for 3 days, as I learned long ago at a stress awareness workshop in Tifton.
The joy we express in laughter dispels despair & shines light into dismal places, shines light & God's grace into distressed lives & fearful hearts.
Jesus says in our Gospel today: There will be distress among nations & people will faint from fear. We hear much distress & fear daily in the news: fleeing refugees & harrowing events like Friday's standoff & deaths in Colorado. In our news we hear less about the hope, joy, love & courage that we hear in our scriptures today.
This range of emotions from dismal expectations to hope & joy reminds me of our blessed Thanksgiving visit in Washington, D.C., where the weather was perfect for outdoor dining, & where we paid attention to the news & were alert but not fretful about our surroundings.
Plus we enjoyed a beautiful trek there & back home under blue skies & fluffy clouds, seeing glorious rolling green hills surrounded by deep blue mountains, sleek horses, peaceful cattle grazing on hillsides near bright evergreens & other trees some with shiny yellow leaves still clinging. Red barn roofs & white silos peak above hilltops. Artwork of red & green apples painted on a water tower speaks of the quality of life & creativity of people. Ooooo.
We dip down a hillside. At the shadowy, monochromatic looking bottom, I see rusting remains of bygone days. A large sign points the way to Dismal Hollow. The contrast is as stark as what we hear in the news & the hope you & I have in Jesus.
Jesus frees us from “Dismal Hollow”. Jesus calls us to be change agents, to carry on his work freeing our brothers & sisters from “Dismal Hollow” beyond our red doors. How do we do this work? How do we brighten dismal lives? The “how” varies among us according to our God-given gifts. The “how” remains grounded in God's love.
Beautiful Brothers & Sisters, you do do what Paul hopes for the Thessalonians, as we hear today. You DO respond so that the Lord makes you increase & abound in love for one another & for all. That's why it is easy for me to do what Paul does: “abound in love for you”.
You are a beautiful, love-overflowing Body of Christ. You ARE change agents for our Brothers & Sisters living in “Dismal Hollow”. Sometimes it helps to be reminded of this to remain strong in the Lord & confident in your work as agents for positive change.
God's love & guidance through the Holy Spirit will strengthen you so that you do not faint from fear & foreboding as you do the work God gives you to do: the work to rescue our brothers & sisters held hostage in “Dismal Hollow”.
May God strengthen you in holiness.

May you remain strong in sharing God's love.

No comments:

Post a Comment