St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church

Vancouver, B.C.

Phone: 604-877-1789

E-mail: office@stmarymags.ca

Office hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10:30 am - 1 pm

The Anglican Parish of St. Mary Magdalene

2950 Laurel Street at West 14th Avenue

Vancouver, BC, V5Z  3T3

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Sunday Eucharist

10:30 am


Contemplative

Eucharist

Wednesday 7:00 pm


Diocese of New Westminster Anglican Church of Canada

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Sermon


November 17th Advent 2,  2019      John Marsh


Isaiah 65:17-25; Isaiah 12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13; Luke 21:5-19



Within the depths of human consciousness there resides hope for new beginnings, yearnings for a life fully lived, for relationships freed from the ravishes of disease and disorder, deep desires for fruitful labour and the ending of predatory practices both within and without…


Such beginnings, this birthing of new and restored worlds, as announced by our sacred stories, is perhaps the work of god who has become my salvation’¹…


And so, sacred story proclaims - trust and give thanks; shout aloud and sing praises²…


Yes, indeed, within the depths of human consciousness there resides hope for new beginnings, yearnings for deliverance and deep desires for the restoration and renewal of human community...


However, stirring within hopes for renewal are daily reminders of the burdens of past choices, daily reminders of the capriciousness of creation…


We are challenged daily by a world less than our yearnings, a world falling drastically short of our desires…


For we know - if we allow ourselves to think about it – that much of the world pays the price of market driven exploitation…


Much of the world is constantly reminded of the consequences of domination, violence and inequity…


Much of the world knows the cost of living month to month, if not day to day; much of the world knows the soul searing stressors of living with poverty…


Much of the world knows the results of wars and rumours of wars, of arrest and bondage to the powers and principalities, a bondage both physical and psychic…


Truth to tell, we are all challenged by a world less than our yearnings, a world falling short, sometimes drastically short of our desires…


It seems that despite our hopes, dreams and yearnings, human community, our eco-community, is at risk…


It seems that we are framed by a world of great expectations along with great dangers…


And so, what are we to do?


Well…


We could project our desires onto the cosmos…


We could project our yearnings onto one who will come to bring victory thereby fulfilling our hopes and dreams…


We could channel our hopes and dreams onto one who will end this world order and establish a new world order in which our enemies are vanquished…


We could await the coming of the reign of god which will solve our problems, restore our lives and fulfill our dreams…


We could hold on and wait, casting our hopes upon the heavens…


And we could call such waiting - ‘faith’…


We could...


Yet questions press in:


Is this not simply a replication, a redirection, a mirror image of bondage to powers and principalities, backwards but otherwise unchanged?


Is this not domination done differently?


Is this not simply whitewashing the exterior?³


Is this not simply ‘staging’ a life?


Are there no other ways?


Well, perhaps…


Perhaps, our waiting need not be so passive…


Perhaps we can perceive things differently…


Perhaps we can read sacred story differently…


Perhaps listening deeply within, we can hear that which we name as god differently…


Perhaps our help is to come from the holy, that which we name as god, as love, life, justice, welling up within our shifting perceptions of self and society...


Perhaps we can hear an alternative song of worth, dignity and value…


Perhaps we can glimpse a new vision of self and society…


Perhaps, hearing the call of one coming (so we hope), we can sense invitations to stand up and be involved, to stand up, putting behind us passivity in the embrace of passion, standing up and putting behind us dependency and avoidance in the embrace of vibrancy and the creativity of life⁴…


Perhaps, in hearing the holy in a wholly different way, we can gain our souls⁵…


Perhaps, perceiving the sacred differently within our economic and relational lives, we can embrace our vocation as harbingers of god’s shalom…


We can be thankful, that perhaps Jesus will come again but, in the meantime, perhaps we can listen for the Christ within self and society…


Perhaps we can attend to seeking ‘the change we wish to see in the world’…

~

A story…

As for why she made the choices she made, no one knew but her. Although for those who had an opinion, the consensus was that in the depth of her being there lived the consequences of trauma and of choices made – choices made in response to her parent’s divorce when she was a teenager. As she grew older, she looked for stability and love and, finding it, would not risk it. When she married, she would not and did not risk her marriage in any way – she devoted herself to her husband. She was married for years, the mother of children and later, grandmother to many more…


Throughout her life it was her choice to never disagree with her husband in front of others. She sometimes voiced her agreement and support, more often she was silent, her silence speaking when her words did not. No matter how bold, problematic or pointed were her husband’s words, her support was a given. Her children, sometimes wanting her support when their father spoke, were left waiting. Throughout a variety of family issues – relational tensions, divorces, financial disagreements and pregnancies outside of marriage, her husband spoke volumes, as did her usual silence.


Years went by, her husband died, life, as it does, went on. Toward the end of her life, one her grandchildren, echoing an earlier era, became pregnant outside of marriage. Her father, wished to inform his mother and so he visited her with some trepidation, haunted as he was of memories past. He told his mother the news awaiting the response. A smile emerged on his mother’s face, laughter erupted from within, tears welled up in her eyes. ‘Wonderful, wonderful’ was all she said.

Perhaps the impossible is possible⁶…


They said to him, ‘Where is your wife Sarah?’ And he said, ‘There, in the tent.’ Then one said, ‘I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age…so Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?’

(Genesis 18:9-12)


All I have to say is I certainly hope so…


 ¹ See Isaiah 12:2b

 ² See Isaiah 12

 ³ See Matthew 23:27

 ⁴ The essential meaning of 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 is not the bashing of the poor. It cannot be used as justification for a war against those on the bottom of the pile. The letter is not addressing the causes of poverty – injustice, structural exploitation, addiction, mental illness, systemic and gender inequality – but rather making the point that we all have a place in god’s realm of shalom and we should use whatever agency we possess to achieve it. Remember, what we do and how we do it matters for the world, for creation, for us and for the unfolding of the holy in our midst.

 ⁵ See Luke 21:19

 For those for whom such things are important, this is a true story.