Spreading the Word
Rev Nicole C Trotter
St. Luke Christmas Eve
Spreading the Word
As I look around the sanctuary I’m aware that Advent is over. Except for the wreath which holds the candles representing all four Sunday’s of Advent. I’m grateful for the reminder because If I’m being honest, I really don’t want to see Advent end. This is the night we’ve been waiting for
It’s during Advent that we discover what we most desire.
It’s during Advent that connections between people deepen. Connections with those who sit in some form of darkness, longing during a season which includes the longest night of the year, those waiting for healing, those in physical pain, and those who mourn the death of loved ones who went too soon.
Advent takes us deeper into making meaning out of what seems to be on the surface just too hard to think about. But for those willing to sit in the dark, they discover over time, that if you want to embrace what is good and joyful in this life, we must also be willing to embrace sorrow, which leads to compassion which ultimately leads to joy, which is a gift from God.
Advent is the time we learn again and again that joy, true joy is born from our ability to trust that we’re not in control of much, except maybe in how we choose to respond to the many challenges we face.
Happy might be something we try to be, but joy is what we’re born into again and again.
That’s this night. This is the night we wake up to find that God is born for us in the form of a baby. A God who wants so badly to be close to us, that God comes as one of us, to show us what love looks like in the flesh. That’s Love incarnate.
Each year I stand up here wondering whether what I’ll say will have any impact on your lives.
And the truth is, I’m just not that powerful. If this night has an impact on you, it’ll be born out of your desire, just as Advent is designed to do, but truly you can do this anytime of year. Just ask yourself, what does God desire for me? Or ask what’s missing? What wants to be born in you this night? What do you long for? If we went around the sanctuary, each answer would be different.
But what about collectively, as a whole, what are we, as a community, or a society, what are we longing for?
I don’t claim to have that answer but I can take a pretty good guess. I think we’re all longing for truth. And I don’t mean just in our news cycles, because the lines between fact and opinion have been lost for the time being.
What if the truth we’re seeking is not at all about facts but about timeless wisdom. Truths that affirm that we’re born good, as good as the baby we show up for here this evening. What if whats true is the goodness, the decency, the morality we seem to have traded in for power. What if the truth lives in the care and concern for the good of the whole, instead of individual benefit, that ultimately leads to greed.
What if- what we showed up for tonight -is to be reminded that when God broke into the world he came to reveal to us that the ultimate truth is something we inherit, like the planet, and that we’re called upon by God to care for it as well as for one another.
Last week, St Luke hosted a meal at the Marin Street Chaplaincy dinner. There were over 100 people served that night. And before dinner, we gathered in a circle, and passed a feather around as a kind of talking stick allowing the person who is holding the feather to share a story or a poem, to prayer, or share whatever’s on their heart.
In that circle, almost every walk of life was represented, from giggling prepubescent boy scouts who didn’t want to talk, to embarrassed mothers compensating for their kids, to those who mumbled possibly because they have mental health challenges, those who complained about the system, about the cold, about having no place to do laundry, to those who gave praise and thanks,
and then the feather reached one gentleman, behind me, who spoke a truth I didn’t want to hear….he said;
Where are the churches? If we’re out on the street cold and getting rained on, where are the churches? Jesus would want your doors open and you claim to follow Jesus, so why are all these buildings closed?
That’s the other truth….the one we don’t want to admit. The truth is he’s right. And we too often get it wrong. Love reveals to us our shortcomings as well as our abilities.
I could have taken the talking stick and talked about the complications around how to make what he was asking happen, I could talk about county rules and ordinances and neighbors that would fight it, and challenges in staffing it, and the wear and tear on the facility.
But none of that is truth, that’s fear.
The truth is, that this is the night we’re called upon to remember, that when love came down, love came first to those who were cold, on the margins of society, those in need, those the world ignored.
Luke’s entire gospel speaks this truth to power, reminder after reminder that this baby was born first for those in need, the sick, the hungry, the orphan, the widow, the traveling stranger and refugee….
There is a call in the fields to the shepherds to come, because love has come down… for them, for the ones no one loved…
Verse.17 When the shepherds had seen him, they spread the word and all who heard it were amazed
The shepherds spread the word that night….We’re called upon this night and every day following…. to spread the word….
John 1-In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ….In him was life, and that life was the light of all humanity.
There is no greater purpose in your life, in anyone’s life, than to live for the good of those in need.
There is no greater wisdom than to embrace challenges and sorrows as a way to grow closer to the God who never abandons, but is with us always, which is the meaning of…Emmanuel.
And there is no deeper recognition of truth, then to resist giving into fear, and embrace the love of God.
This is your call, to spread the word by living into the ultimate truth of love.