Below is most of my sermon from my first Sunday in my new congregation, St. Peter and St. Mary in Denver, April 28, 2013. I am thrilled to be the new vicar with such a committed group of people.
After an event like the Boston bombing, there is a liminal time, when everyone is taking a breath and absorbing what has happened. This is a time when everything is suspended and we are deeply connected by our common shock and dismay. We are all raw and sad and vulnerable. What unfolds next after an event like this, shapes how we will make meaning from it. Terrorism isn’t just about the act of violence itself, but how those who have been violated respond.
We can choose fear, or we can choose love. Choosing fear means that terrorists win, and that our lives get smaller. Fear means that we assume the world is bad and that people are out to get us. Fear means that we worry about getting a flat tire all the time, or that our neighbor who ignored us in line at the grocery store was mad at us, or , whatever. We have all made assumptions about the world based on fear. Some fear is helpful, our survival as a species depends on it, protecting our children and those who are vulnerable is important. But too much fear makes our lives small.
Choosing love means that God wins. Jesus is telling his disciples to love one another as he has loved us. Choosing love means wading into the world, and being vulnerable to getting our hearts broken over and over again, and being disappointed. AND it means being connected to one another in deep, joyful and meaningful ways. Choosing love means rushing in when the bombs go off. Choosing love means falling in love again after getting your heart broken. Choosing love means we know that broken pieces of our lives can be put back together and made into something beautiful. Choosing love means that our lives get larger.
We have so many reasons not to do things – we’re too old, we’ll get hurt, we don’t want to look stupid, it’s too dangerous, it’s not safe… on and on. It’s true, there ARE things we shouldn’t do, jump out of airplanes without parachutes, touch a hot burner on a stove, run into traffic. But so many times there are things we should do, and we can do, but we don’t because we are afraid.
I am an artist. This is something I never would have said out loud about myself before. I am afraid of opening myself up to judgment. Now when I say I am an artist, I don’t mean I am the next Picasso or Monet or Ansel Adams,. I am an artist as much as any one of us is an artist – created in the image and likeness of God with a yearning to create something. We are all co-creators with God. For some of us it’s making music, or brewing beer, or cooking, or knitting, or creating a relationship, or being a parent or an aunt or uncle, singing, being a friend…. For me it’s cooking, taking photographs and lately more than anything, I’ve been ripping paper, all kinds of beautiful paper, origami paper, wrapping paper, homemade paper, store bought paper and using the ripped pieces to make collages. I have been really enjoying the collage practice because I like ripping the paper, I like playing with what it looks like on another pieces of paper, I like glue, I like to figure out how the paper is going to layer, and think about what embellishments might work once it’s glued, gold pen, glitter, ribbon….. What usually happens is when I glue the paper down, the image that is created is never exactly what I have planned it to be and so different from what I had in mind when I started I feel kind of frustrated AND sometimes what is created is so much better than I could have imagined,
Today we begin a new chapter together at St. Peter and St. Mary. We are embarking on a journey of faith and love. God has a dream for us in Baker, and I am looking forward to discovering what that dream is. None of us here is perfect, (well I am assuming none of us is…. ) but we are all children of God, created in love, by love, for love. We will have moments of great joy with one another, we will likely get frustrated with one another, and it is my deepest hope and prayer, that we will love one another, as God has loved us. My prayer as we begin this ministry together is that we will wade into the world and we will show the world God’s love,
My prayer is that we will be like the ripped pieces of paper in this collage, frayed and torn, and when we come together, we will create something beautiful. This is what God’s love does, God’s love transforms our brokenness into something whole and magnificent. May we all be artists of God’s dream in this place and may we love one another as we have been loved by God.