Poison Dart Frogs are some of the tiniest and beautiful creatures on the planet; they are also incrediably deadly. So, why call this blog "Tiny Dart Frog"? It goes back to the old adage - good things come in small packages. We are all created exactly as God has intended - unique, strong, and beautiful.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
The sermon that never was...
The following is a sermon, to be delivered at Epiphany Lutheran Church, however extreme snow has kept us from celebrating the last Sunday of Advent together as a congregation. Tomorrow we were to come together for our first Sunday together as pastor and congergation. For my new friends in Christ:
Based on Luke 1:34-45
My living room has been in dire need of a make-over for at least 5 years. The furniture had holes in it, the curtains were these heavy velvet drapes that just overtook the whole room, and the walls were marred up and in desperate need of a paint job. I had very good intentions of getting it done, but I always felt like I didn't have the time or energy to get it done. I needed to pick out a paint color, patch holes, coordinate furniture, drapes… the list goes on. And then, one day this summer I was alone in the house for a week and I decided - spur of the moment - to do something about that room. I grabbed a neighbor and put the old furniture on the curb, took down knick-knacks, bought some paint and got to work. Room was done in 3 days. No planning involved.
This week my office was painted by some wonderful congregation members. As I was doing some final coat touch-ups, I remembered my painting from this summer….and I thought, "hmmm, who knew, painting would prepare me for becoming a pastor?" Yup, who knew.
As much as we want to prepare and isn't that what Advent is all about…life, in some ways, is about learning to prepare for the unexpected.
Besides my living room looking atrocious, my other motivation for getting it done was I was alone. Quite alone. I didn't have a job, my kids were gone for a week…basically I was questioning what God had in store for me.
So when I was painting again this week, I was thinking how Mary is so unprepared and yet she jumps right in. She proclaims, just before this passage, "let it be". Basically, Okay Gabriel, I'm on board. And then, she dashes off to see Elizabeth. I wonder if Mary was like, "Oh shoot, what the heck have I gotten myself into?"
So, off she goes to see Elizabeth. Elizabeth, her cousin, her older cousin, her cousin who happens to be pregnant. Somehow, Mary knows that Elizabeth will be able to help her. Mary needs someone. The angel has left as quickly as he came and there she stands…quite alone, quite unsure of what God has in store for her, and I would imagine, quite scared.
All Mary does is great Elizabeth…maybe she says "hi" or "I have a problem" and Elizabeth knows…she knows something is happening, she knows that Mary is the mother of her LORD. Think about this scenario…an old, pregnant woman and an unwed, pregnant woman standing there - greeting one another and knowing. Truly, knowing what the other is going through. They meet..they come together and reach out to one another. They hang onto each other for dear life, because life is about to change.
Together they can anticipate the unknown. Yes, they can prepare for what they know, but they cannot prepare for everything. It's like this for us…and sometimes it's only when we look back at the past that we can see how events and people in our lives prepare us for what comes next. They help us get through. I'm pretty sure Mary never, ever thought, "Oh, I am so happy to have an older cousin, so when I am unexpectedly pregnant I can go to her and she will help me get through it." But…that is exactly what happens. In some ways, Elizabeth demonstrates for us how very, very crucial and important we all are to one another. Elizabeth becomes a sanctuary for Mary…and Mary becomes a sanctuary for Elizabeth.
I must confess that over the past day or so I have prayed a few times - okay many times, "Please God, not snow now. Please make it go away." But, God does not work in that way. The preparations we make can only take us so far and then, at some point, we say...let it be, God. I'm really thinking about this as I listen to weather reports of snow and questions of what will we be. Will we have enough food to see us through? Will we have worship? Will there be an ordination? When will the shopping get finished now? Will the snow cancel games and events and Christmas pageants? I do not know… I do not know what will happen, but whatever it is, let it be and see us through.
I've often thought how strange it was that Mary's response in the midst of all the craziness was a song. She sings…and I think she sings because there's just so much. So much going on around her and inside her that she can't help but sing. Finding a safe place in Elizabeth, Mary is able to be free to express the inexpressible through song. Sometimes there just aren't words…only sighs, or songs, or cries.
And it's not just Mary's life or Elizabeth's life that changes. Or even just Zechariah or Joseph's life. It's yours and it's mine. In some very real ways, we are the pregnant ones…. the ones waiting on a child. We are the ones today, waiting and watching for Jesus.
I guess the truth is, watching for hope is sometimes paired with turmoil; watching for joy is sometimes paired with sorrow. Waiting for love is sometimes paired with heartache and waiting for peace…sometimes unrest. The promise we hear today is that God meets us and greets us and sits with us in the waiting and questions.
So, as I was painting and pondering how past events prepare us for future events and how these two women come together in a new way for the first time… I was thinking about us. About you all, and me, and God. We are all here together, in new way. We are the same as we always have been, yet we are different. We have come together, to embark on adventures unknown, with anticipation of what is to come, yet confident that in the arms of God we will find refuge and sanctuary. It is as Micah prophesies, "the LORD will come, and the LORD will feed his flock in strength and majesty and they - the people of God - will live secure."
In some ways today, we have been given the gift which was given to Mary and Elizabeth. Neither of us alone. We have been paired together by God to sing the song of Mary to all the world. Blessings given, blessings received, and refuge along the way. Amen.
My name is Christine Stephan, although I answer mostly to Mom or Pastor.
I am a Lutheran pastor for an amazing group of Jesus' disciples just outside Washington DC AND a mom to 3 of the best boys in the universe.
I blog here about family and faith and frustrations....That thing we call 'life'.
My boys are passionate about all things legos, anything involving a ball, video games, and chocolate.
I am an avid runner, a lover of interesting books and deep conversation, a very amateur writer, and also a lover of chocolate.
I also love theology (which is weird, I know), but I don't love theology more than Jesus.
This blog is hardly ever profound, but it is real. As a pastor and I mom, I find 'real' to be more helpful in my journey with Jesus than crossing all the t's and dotting all the i's.