01/12/2020: Sacraments and Love
A Sermon by Rev. Gretchen J. Switzer
No matter where you stand on the current president or on politics in general, no matter if you are happy and well in your personal life, no matter what is good and what is not so good, I think we can all agree that the world we live in in 2020 is not the world we would really like to be living in. I watch my daughter and son, Sabrina and Parker, ages 21 and 20, and I anguish over the world in which they were born, I grieve over the world they accept as normal in 2020 and I want so badly for them to have a world in which kindness and compassion are the rule, rather than the exception, where we can not only hope for but expect respect and dignity for all people. I want my kids to relish the times in which they fall in love, and marry, and if it is their desire, raise their children. I dream of a world that will embrace those children, respect them and make all of humanity feel valued and supported.
I know that whether or not you have raised children, you share my hopes and dreams for a kinder, more loving world. That you too, lament the coarseness, and unkindness, the violence and struggle that pervades humanity.
Well, the Israelites felt very much the same way we do right now. They were discouraged and scared, confused by their life experience. They didn’t know which leaders to trust, or how they could help change the world into more of what they believed God intended. Our situations, are not really that different.
Just as God sent Isaiah to the Israelites, God speaks his word into our situation, God sends the words of the prophet Isaiah to us.
Listen to these promises in the context of our time and our place and our circumstances, as if God is speaking directly to you in the midst of fear and uncertainty.
Isaiah 42: 1-9
The Servant, a Light to the Nations
Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
My chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
He will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
Or make it heard in the street;
A bruised reed he will not break,
And a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
He will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or b crushed
Until he has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands wait for his teaching.
Thus, says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
Who gives breath to the people upon it
And spirit to those who walk in it:
I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,
a light to the nations,
To open the eyes that are blind,
To bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
From the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord, that is my name;
My glory I give to no other,
Nor my praise to idols.
See the former things have come to pass,
And new things I know declare;
Before they spring forth,
I tell you of them.
This delightful prophecy was meant to assure the Israelites that God was going to save them, by sending a Messiah. Is it any less true that God is assuring us that Christ is with us, and Christ will save us and save the world, no matter how badly we have messed it up?
A Sacrament is a sacred combination of word and deed. Baptism and Holy Communion are the primary sacraments of the Protestant tradition.
I have always believed that sacraments are God’s way of telling us that we are not alone, God’s way of saying that God has everything under control, even though the world sems to bus to be irredeemable. God did not and has not given up on us! God did not and has not given up on us! I believe that because when the time was right before, God sent Jesus Christ, love incarnate, so we would know we are not alone, so we would know there is always hope. So, we would know that we are loved no matter what!
When we come to this table to receive God’s gifts in the bread and the cup and the words of the Lord’s Supper, you and I are fully embraced by God’s love, the love we dream of, the pace and the hope and the joy we don’t always see in the world around us. The sacraments are God’s way of telling us that everything is going to be okay. Just like we might reassure a small child, God kneels by our bed and tells us again and again that Christ has it all under control, that God loves us beyond any reason we could ever understand.