Facing Our Vaders

The following is only an excerpt of this sermon. The full sermon can be heard by clicking the audio link below.

Psalm 32

In the third installment of the great saga of my child, that is “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi”, Luke Skywalker seeks to complete his training as a Jedi Knight. The Jedi, by the way, for those of you who don’t know, are the guardians of the galaxy, the defenders of all that is good until they are wiped out. But to finish his training, Luke turns to the home of Yoda. And Yoda is old now, and he’s about to pass into the realm beyond and he tells Luke, “No more training do you require. Already know you that which you need. “

“Then I am a Jedi,” says Luke.

“Hmm, not yet,” says Yoda, “One thing remains: Vader. You must confront Vader. Then and only then a Jedi will you be.”

Now let’s be honest, you all want to be Jedis, right? You all want to move things with your mind and you all want to kicks some patootie with a lightsaber… Come on, fess up! Well, maybe that’s just for young boys fascinated with light sabers. I don’t know, maybe you don’t want to be a Jedi. But there are some pretty good things that come with being a Jedi. Because in addition to being guardians of the peace, the Jedi have peace. On top of being defenders of freedom, the Jedi are free. Who doesn’t want to be at peace and free?

Unfortunately there are too many things that stand between us and peace and freedom. To reach peace and freedom, in the words of the Jedi Master, we must face our Vaders.

Now, an essential part of every Presbyterian Worship service is a time of confession. In the traditional service, we usually have a printed prayer or some kind of litany which gives language, which gives voice to our sin, to our brokenness. And it always includes a time of silence for us to reflect, to turn our gaze inward, so that we might reflect on our own brokenness, our own sin and offer it up to God. Now this time and opportunity for confession, though it is essential, it is not meant or intended to make you feel bad or guilty. It is not meant to make feel as if you were worthless as a person. It is not a threat, it is not meant to inspire fear or trepidation. It is not a word of judgment in the way of the great Colonial revivalist, Jonathan Edwards, who pictured us as spiders dangling from the hand of God over the eternal flame.

(To listen to the sermon in full, please click below)

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  • Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

    There is a beautiful piece of seasonal writing attributed to the theologian and civil rights leader Howard Thurman that you may have encountered in Christmases past. It’s entitled, “Now the Work of Christmas Begins.” Take in these words from the author:

    When the song of the angels is stilled,

    when the star in the sky is gone,

    when the kings and princes are home,

    when the shepherds are back with their flocks,

    the work of Christmas begins:

    to find the lost,

    to heal the broken,

    to feed the hungry,

    to release the prisoner,

    to rebuild the nations,

    to bring peace among the people,

    to make music in the heart.

    Indeed, this is the real work of Christmas. This is the work we discover in faith when we follow the light of Christ, which the darkness has not and will not overcome. In last Sunday’s Scripture passage, Luke records that Mary and Joseph were amazed at what was said about Jesus when they encountered Simeon in the temple in Jerusalem. On account of the angel Gabriel’s visit, Mary knew in the beginning that the child she would bear would be holy, but I wonder if she knew that this would be the character of His holy work? What a proud mother she must have been. What a nervous mother she must have been, watching her Son challenge the status quo as He lived in obedient faith to God, gently shepherding God’s people! Yes, this holy child will lead us – the Church – in finding, healing, feeding, releasing, rebuilding, and bringing peace. His story is ours to discover anew in the pages of the Gospel, the pages we will turn together in worship in the months to come. 

    Although the real work of Christmas is ours to offer another, let us also take to heart that it is also ours to receive as blessing and gift. At times we are lost, feeling broken, or living and praying for peace of mind or spirit. At times we sense that our lives are in need of rebuilding. As the great Henri Nouwen has observed, our own wounds may serve as a source of strength and healing in our own work of serving.

    My heart is full this holiday season. As may be true for you, I am holding joy and sorrow in the same chamber. I rejoice in what I hold dear, in the embrace of my loved ones in the home, and in the privilege of worshiping with you through a variety of experiences this December. I grieve with families who lost loved ones to Covid or other causes in 2020, and most recently, Pastor Derek’s family. I find joy in new traditions and customs that this holiday season has inspired. I long for loved ones who are no longer with us and who I remember especially at Christmas. My faith is wide enough to embrace these differing realities, to hold joy and sorrow in tandem. I pray yours is, too. 

    In faith, we will find, heal, feed, and rebuild, because Christ has first found us and embraced us with His healing presence. He feeds us with His Word and at table, in our hunger for bread that nourishes and lasts. In the grateful words of Martin Luther, “to you Christ is born. For this purpose Christ willed to be born, that through him we might be born anew. Christ must above all things become our own and we become his. See to it that you make this birth your own and that Christ be born in you.”

    Dear friends, Christ is born in us, and His love will guide and equip our ministry together in 2021. Pastor Derek and I look forward with anticipation to a new year of ministry with you. Let us follow the light of Christ together!  With joy, Pastor Meg

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