Homily by The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA
13 Dec. 2015, Advent 3 Year C: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Canticle 9; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18
On a scale of 1-10 [10 being highest] where do you rate the energy level of one of these stones?
Know these facts: each of these stone is different, each bears a different decorative sticker, each of you may take one home, and this is not an attempt to bring back the Pet Rock fad.
On a scale of 1-10, I'll rate a stone's energy level 8-10. More of that in a bit.
On a scale of 1-10, I rate stones high for what they can teach us about our scriptures today.
We hear John in our Gospel say: God can raise up children from stones. Our other scriptures say nothing about stones & much about rejoicing, singing, ringing out joy.
Reading our canticle, the First Song of Isaiah, the words about God being our stronghold & sure defense bring to mind God as the “rock of our salvation,” that we hear in 2nd Samuel 22:47.
Rocks/stones are solid, strong. They live the holiness of being exactly what God designs them to be. They sit right where they are, right where you put them until you – or something – moves them. Maybe that was the appeal of the Pet Rock fad. Consider this fact: I have not seen one of these stones worry.
At this hectic time of year, stones may remind us to take time just to chill, just sit, &, as Paul says to the Philippians & us: not to worry about anything; God's peace that surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts & minds in Jesus Christ.
For us who find comfort sitting still, these stones may speak to us about resting in God's love. For us who find activity more satisfying, these stones can speak about relying on God's love. We just have to remember on a scale of 1-10 to rate a stone' energy level between 8 and 10.
Fact: it requires great internal activity for a stone to sit still.
A stone's apparent inactivity belies how busily it works to be what God has created it to be. To be a solid lump, a stone's atoms have to move very fast. A stone is very active on the inside, serving God’s will for its existance.
Jesus is the cornerstone into which we are built.
You & I are stones that build up this happening community where we live God's love. God's love calls for us to be joyful, for us not to worry, & to take time to be still. This sounds so contrary to the action verbs in our scriptures with all their singing aloud, rejoicing, ringing out joy, proclaiming the Good News: Go loves you. No exceptions. All are welcome.
God's love is broad & many dimensional. We experience God's love in stillness & through activity. We experience God's love in our joyful sharing at this Holy Table where we celebrate God's love & the joy we know through Jesus' life, death for us, & resurrection & the gift of the Holy Spirit. Our 1st lesson today assures us God joins us in our joy.
When life events prevent our coming – your coming – to participate in our celebration, we can bring the celebration to you. [Thank you, Lay Eucharistic Visitors, for your ministry of sharing our feast, our celebration of God's love.]
We celebrate the feast God gives us
for solace AND for strength,
for pardon AND for renewal.
Through the feast we gain strength for the work God gives each of us to do with our unique gifts.
My Brothers and Sisters, BE who God designs you to be. You living stones are a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Just as these stones have different looks & messages, each of us is different.
The Rev. Chris Brathwaite of the Diocese of Central Florida, Rector of St. Mark's, Haines City, asks if we realize what we say when we call each other Brothers & Sisters in Christ. Writing about the work of the Anti-Racism Commission1, he says: Our starting point to discuss race relations, “should be acknowledging that we are created in [God's] image & stand before [God] as a rainbow – different colors, one entity.”2
I see this as a starting point in any human relationship. We are different. We are one human family.
Fr. Brathwaite reminds us: “In the beginning God created the first couple, none of us has any idea what color they were...[W]e do know that with every other thing [God] made – animals, birds, landscape, & more – [God gives] us many examples of the same species or kind, but different colors.”3
Our identity comes from being children of God,
not how we look.
Our unity is in our diversity.
As you take your special stone home & look at it, ponder what God is saying to you through this very busy, very solid part of God's creation.
What is God saying through you?
“The Real Thing”. http://www.sermons4kids.com/ Accessed: 10 Dec/ 2015.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Matthews, Victor H. Social World of the Hebrew Prophets. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. 2001.
Nave, Orville J. Nave's Topical Index: A Digest of the Holy Scriptures. Nashville: The Southwestern Co. 1962.
The New American Bible for Catholics. South Bend: Greenlawn Press. 1986.
1 Brathwaite, The Rev. Chris. “My Brothers and Sisters in Christ” Do we realize what we are saying? Central Florida Episcopalian. Nov. 2015. P. 6