19 March 2004


March 19, 2004

I recently had the opportunity to hear my mother preach a sermon.  She had travelled to the East Coast to do some work for the Episcopal Church and was invited to be a guest preacher by a congregation there.  Luckily for me someone recorded the sermon and posted on their website.

I  enjoyed hearing the recording of her sermon. She is a  really good speaker (daughterly bias not-with-standing). I sent the link to several other people, some that I know very well and one that I only know through the internet.  Mom talked about the Jesus transforming people’s understanding of who is blessed.

Then, as now, it was easy to think that people who ‘have it all’ are blessed while those who are poor in health, wealth, or connections are somehow being punished for something.  It is a trap that is easy to slip into, given how little control we really have over the world and what it does to us.  One part of Jesus’ message was that all are blessed, that God’s love extends to everyone in creation regardless of outside factors that may dominate our lives for good or ill.  

In light of various debates raging around the Christian faith about same-sex marriage, reaction to the “Passion of Christ,” and the ever-present struggle between organized religion and the faith of individuals, it was very powerful and refreshing to be reminded of the central message of the love of God.

God knew that life was hard and still sent Jesus to come and share the journey with us.  From birth to death an aspect of the divine has come down to remind us how important we are, how much a part of the divine we can be when we make the effort, and yet, no matter how close we come, or how far we may stray, ultimately, we will all join Jesus in death.

What happens after that is up to God.  All we can do is live the life we are given to the best of our ability.  It can be hard to live with an awareness of death but it can also be invigorating, like diving into a lake when you know the water will be cold.  Jesus jumps in first to show us that it’s not as bad as we might fear.  We will all join him in our own time but until then, his presence can make the deep water less frightening.

When we can release the twin burdens of the illusion of immortality and the fear of death we are freed to live our life near the lake and enjoy the hot sunshine and cool water, to give time to our friends, family, and family-of-choice, knowing that each moment with them is a gift of this life, existing only in the moment and in our memories.

Like a gift, each, conversation, telephone call, email, or letter is a surprise waiting to be unwrapped.   Hearing my mother’s voice, listening to her tell stories about Jesus and his tendency to move in close and draw listeners closer was a gift.  I found myself leaning into the speakers of my computer. Hanging on each word because she is my mother, because she is priest with something to say, because she is a person with a lifetime of living to draw upon, she draws me deeper into her story.

Between birth and death we are given a life to explore– talk to people who share the path with you.  Listen to their stories.  Share your own.  The dark pool will claim us all eventually but until that time we can play in the sun, picnic on the grass, and be there for each other.

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