A Light to the Nations
The Lord called me before I was born,
While I was in my mother’s womb he named me…
I will give you as a light to the nations;
That my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. V 47:6b
Writing this sermon I could see an almost full moon rising outside my living room window. I watched as it rose and travelled across the sky. Seeing it, took me aback, made me stop and hold my breath. Who else can see this dinner dish in the sky; this light rising in the darkness? As they too look, what then are they seeking? For what are they looking? And longing?
There is much that I do not know on this weekend before the inauguration of our 45th President. What I do know is that it is an intense time here, here in our nation, our world and in this place itself. Three memorial services in 10 days, a 24 year old young man—Alex, a little, tiny bitty baby-David, and a 34 year old woman—Yvette. Such pain and sadness. Always in death, regardless of what our beliefs may be of the afterlife, there is in the end of life, an abiding loss, a chasm of emptiness. This crevasse is sometimes felt as deeper and darker when the people who die are young, for it seems in their deaths we grieve the loss of their future and a portion of ours. Whereas, when we who are older take our last breaths it is as if a portion of the past dies with us. At least for me, in this time and space, the passing away of their future, our futures with them can be harder to bear then letting go of what has been. It can be as if, our dreams have died.
I believe that a portion of this our country, the majority of people even, are feeling the cold bite of the approaching chasm of our 45th President’s inauguration. I had partially talked myself into believing that having been elected he would be shaped and changed by the power of the office, the weight of the responsibility, and the gravity of governing. But a week away, I see only an extremely small insecure man, who derives deep delight in taunting and casting aspersions, offering shallow policy in 144 characters or less. Is this how someone who is about to become the most powerful person in the world comports himself?
The President elect’s twitter response to Congressman’s Lewis public questioning of his legitimacy is behavior I’d expect to see from a 12 year old boy who has had one too many Red Bulls. I now feel as if I am about to be exiled to foreign land, governed by a man who worships statues made of gold.
I apologize for my possible hyperbole and perhaps my fears will dissipate some in the coming weeks and months. But in this time of feeling in exile, I find comfort in the words written o so long ago by the prophet Isaiah, to a people some 2600 years in the past who also found themselves living in a foreign land, wondering how they could sing hymns and offer God praise.
To these people come these words,
Listen to me, O coastlands,
Pay attention, you peoples from far away!
The Lord called me before I was born,
While I was in my mother’s womb, God named me.
So says the suffering servant—
God has called me –before I was born—God called me and knew me—
God called us and has known us—
The servant goes on to say—
God has made my mouth like a sword, I am an arrow in God’s quiver—
Though I know this—it feels as if—I labor in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing….
But in the suffering servants pain and sadness, in our pain and sadness, God replies,
To God’s servant formed in the womb, called to gather the people in exile,
It is too light a thing, that you should just be my servant,
To call the tribes of Jacob
And restore the survivors of Israel only
No says Our Lord,
You—shall be a light to the nations (all of them)
That God’s salvation shall reach to the ends of the earth.
This then was the prophecy, the prediction given by God, proclaimed by Isaiah
And heard by the people in exile. And it came to be.
They were returned and restored and brought home to God’s holy mountain.
My friends, last night, after an amazing memorial service with 400 people, after we’d cried and prayed and sang out our hearts, and most importantly commended our friend Yvette to God’s care and God’s Holy tender hands, we moved our altar of sadness, we replaced it with a garland not of ashes, or a faint spirit—
But literally a garland that twisted in a spiral. During their Epiphany camp. Here where our altar typically is, a literal garland Dotted with stations of God’s promises and prophecies, candles glowing at each, all offering a suggestion of hope, an epiphany of God. There in the darkness, many of the children of this parish, began to understand what it means to seek out the light of Christ. To hear God’s promises and to know that even in our darkest moments God will be with us. Calling us to come and see all that is good and right and holy.
Those candles, like the moon rising, proclaiming that no matter what, be it the loss of our loved ones, the trampling of historic ideals, the moon rises, the light shines in the darkness and the Glory of the Lord will be revealed.
Copyright Bonnie A. Perry 2017
January 15, 2017