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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

Home Who We Are UAM What Is On Sermons Contact Us

The Anglican Parish of St. Mary Magdalene

2950 Laurel Street at West 14th Avenue

Vancouver, BC, V5Z  3T3

Worship Times

Sunday Eucharist

10:30 am


Contemplative

Eucharist

Wednesday 7:00 pm


Diocese of New Westminster Anglican Church of Canada

Sermon

August 18th Pentecost 10, 2019                      John Marsh


Isaiah 5:1, 7; Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19; Hebrews 11:29-12:2, 8-16; Luke 12:49-56


Today’s texts emerge out of the complexities of life and express the vagaries of existence…


They speak of passions and hopes for the wellness of the world within that which we name as god…


They speak of encounters with something beyond us, something deep within us, within creation and the world, something inviting a response wherein, maybe, a certain holiness is emerging...¹


They speak of us, of what and who we commit to; they speak to what we do in spite of or because of that

commitment…


They speak of decisions, choices and actions based on fear, greed and lusts…


They speak of faith in spite of the lack of fulfilment, of faith in spite of trauma and harm...  (Is this not definitive of faith?)


They speak of holding to a call and to humanity in spite of the debasement of both…


They speak of divisions engendered by those following the moral arc of creation….²


So take time to listen, to consider our humanity, to reflect upon how we live, how we live our faith, how we honour (enact) god within the fabric of creation and how we respect ourselves and others….


Silence


As humans and as followers of the way, we are called to lean toward god’s passion for the world, to lean into god’s desire for creation, for life – all life – our life…


As we are of creation, we are necessarily participants within creation…


What we do matters, our choices matter, our choices for: wellness, health, justice, sustainability, equity and respect...³


As we choose, it is obvious that not all of our choices will be wise, not all of our choices will serve justice or express compassion and non-violence…


Some of our choices will reflect our fears, our ignorance, and our wilful blindness…


Some of our choices will be destructive, traumatizing, destabilizing and dehumanizing...


But remember, we have choices and we must choose.⁴


In the simplest of terms, we are to:


Choose life – choose death⁵


If we are sensitive to the holy, we are sensitive to processes of choosing…


If we are sensitive to the world around us (wherein we encounter god - perhaps) our choices will lean in life’s direction - will bend towards compassion, will honour justice, will seek to serve god’s passion/dream…


To lean in the direction of life is to say that sometimes our choices will not be right, our choices will never be absolute…


There will be mistakes, errors in judgment...


However, when we realize that we have strayed, when we discover that we have made a mistake, when our blindness is revealed, we are to learn (repent), return, and continue to lean into the sacred…


This serves life…


This serves a deeper humanity which is to say that it serves the holy…


Our humanity is a gift into which we are ever living…


Ever living into our humanity is a revealing of divinity’s face within us, a divine face astir within creation, a revealing of impossible possibilities of holiness…


Becoming ever more human is an honouring of divinity’s call...


As I have said before, it is for these reasons that one should never speak of being human solely in negative terms, as if it were a handicap (I’m only human) …


Violence, abuse, trauma, insensitivity and hardness of heart (all of which have touched and been expressed by me) are diminishments of our humanity, an affront to life, an affront to the sacred, to what is going on in the name of god...


So again, simply put – people are traumatized and harmed, sometimes horribly and unimaginably so; but, as paradoxical as it may seem, the best way to confront dehumanizing and destructive force is not to respond in kind but:


To claim the humanity that others deny…


To lay hold of the compassion others refuse...


To serve the justice others violate….


To commit to the wellness others harm…


To serve the holy others distort…


To respect creation that others disparage…   


Speaking for myself, I am seeking to be at one with all who honour, respect and serve the integrity of creation in a myriad of ways…


I am seeking to be at one with all who seek compassion and justice and respect life in all of its diversity…


I am seeking to be at one with all who acknowledge that, despite best efforts, they miss the mark…


I am seeking to be at one with all who seek to learn from past mistakes – theirs and others…


I am seeking at/one/ment,⁶ to be ‘at one with’ those who lean into life, because for me, this is what it means to follow the way of Jesus, the way of honouring the image of god within and around me…


 ¹ By holiness I mean those encounters by which we experience the excess of love, the excess of justice, hospitality and generosity, calling, luring us into more than, more than we can imagine, more than expected, that excess of possibilities, possibilities we did not see coming, overwhelming us, stretching, changing us, to which the only response ‘to fall down our knees’, ‘to remove one’s sandals, ‘to confess, opening oneself to an unknown, a call but barely heard, perhaps setting out on journey without destination.

 ² This is a paraphrase of a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but It bends toward justice”. See also today’s gospel.

 ³ Christianity is not an objective, universal truth but an existential truth realized in how we live our lives, in how we exist and the name of god is the name of a deed. This is one of Soren Kierkegaard’s many valuable insights.

 ⁴ All life is involved with choosing – no one is entirely stripped of all agency diminished though it may be. Remember, not to choose is to choose. To believe that you have no choice is to reveal a choice to believe another’s choice as a requirement for yourself.

⁵  See Deuteronomy 30:19. Despite the binary presentation (a heuristic device) a choice is never final; it is the embrace of a process of choosing, of discerning, conversing and choosing again and again, perhaps better expressed as choice within a continuum of choices between life and death. The more humane the human being, the more one will continually revaluate choices so as to lean evermore into life.

 At/one/ment is a way of breaking apart atonement to see, perhaps, what is going on within the word. It suggests, at the very least, that there are varieties of ways to be at one with – not one final absolute way. The at/one/ment of Jesus is a lure inviting varieties of responses. So, as odd as it may strike us, I am, we are seeking to live as atoning sacrifices within the world. Are we up for it - hopefully…