Sermon 1-9-2022: “By a Different Road”

Sermon 1-9-2022: “By a Different Road”

Sermon 1-9-2022: “By a Different Road”

At a conference in 2019, Sandhya Jha said “The right has spent the last 50 years creating our current conditions.” They continued “Good news: we’re at the beginning of the next 50 years.”
Sidestepping partisanship, one could say that the industrialized world has spent 250 years creating our current global conditions. And we could continue by echoing Sandhya “Good news: we’re at the beginning of the next 250 years.”
Looking at a colonized and colonizing faith tradition and the grim future that seems to await the church universal, we could say that the wedding of empire and the Jesus way has been watering down and abusing Christ’s message for 1300 years. And we could, again, say: “Good news: we’re at the beginning of the next 1300 years.”

Every year the first celebration of the church in the new calendar year is Epiphany.

The word epiphany means a manifestation. It means an intuitive grasp of reality through a striking event. Often an epiphany is related to the Divine one. A Divine manifestation. An intuitive grasp on reality through a striking event that connects us somehow with the divine.

In the U-theory of formation, there is this concept that when someone has a difficult season, a dark night of the soul, a long journey with depression, an illness that knocks them out, maybe we could say a global illness that knocks us all out for a period, when they return, they have an intuitive sense of what needs to be done. A manifestation. An intuitive grasp on reality. A sacred meeting with divinity that gives new insight into how to live and be in the world toward our shared goals.

The advice of the U-theory of formation is to keep an eye on those emergence moments and ride them.

Epiphany. The first festival of the new year. A manifestation. An intuitive grasp of reality. A God-directed insight into the way forward.

We’ve talked about the Magi before. We’ve talked about how they weren’t just three dudes on camels bringing gifts for a king because they like kings. We’ve talked about how it was a collective of wise and studied people, likely of multiple genders. They studied texts and watched the stars and, yes, I am sure listened for that epiphany — that intuitive understanding of reality.

When certain stars aligned, it was, for them, as striking event that connected them with the divine and told them something different was about to happen.

We’ve talked, in my years here, and I’m sure you talked about it before, about how conditions in Bethlehem were harsh at the time of Jesus’ arrival and toddlerhood — heck, throughout his life and beyond. The people were oppressed by Rome. Rome was a warring colonizing empire that dehumanized all but its elite rich and certainly dehumanized the foreigners it ruled over. And the census that drove Jesus’ family to Bethlehem is a key too. It tells us that Rome was preparing to increase taxes. That is one form of oppression. But the reason Rome would increase taxes was to wage more war and colonize more places and dehumanize more people groups. We know there was unrest in Bethlehem. And, we can guess, given the nature of Rome — or the nature of any colonizing empire, such as the one we belong to — more taxes for military use were not good news for the surrounding world either.

At this time, Persia and Rome were vying for control.

So the Magi are watching the world, noting that it is in this crevasse of despair between one oppressive empire and another. The Magi are watching the world in a collective dark night of the soul, as in the U-theory of formation, and not unlike our world right now with increasing wealth gaps, a raging pandemic, and climate change. The Magi are watching and saying: This can’t work. There has to be another way.

And they see stars aligning that tell them a different kind of king is coming.

I can only assume that as or before they traveled to Bethlehem to meet the new king, they would study the sacred texts of the people they are going to. I can only assume they knew of the Psalms to the king. I can only assume that they knew of the dreams of a king as described in Psalm 72. A king who is for justice. A king who is near to marginalized people. A king who lives out liberation. A king of mutual flourishing for all the people.

In this regional collective dark night of the soul, the Magi seek a different kind of empire. An empire that is not an empire but a kinship of humanity.

And they come to this child. And they kindle this little flame in a dark world. They encourage his parents. They celebrate. They tend the little light with their material possessions, giving his family gold and frankincense and myrrh.

And they listen closely to the voice of the Eternal One as the Eternal One sneaks into their dreams with an epiphany, an intuitive understanding of reality, that this little flicker of light in a world run by shadows needed protection and that the Divine One was calling them to return home by a different road.

At a conference in 2019, Sandhya Jha said “The right has spent the last 50 years creating our current conditions.” They continued “Good news: we’re at the beginning of the next 50 years.”
Sidestepping partisanship, one could say that the industrialized world has spent 250 years creating our current global conditions. And we could continue by echoing Sandhya “Good news: we’re at the beginning of the next 250 years.”
Looking at a colonized and colonizing faith tradition and the grim future that seems to await the church universal, we could say that the wedding of empire and the Jesus way has been watering down and abusing Christ’s message for 1300 years. And we could, again, say: “Good news: we’re at the beginning of the next 1300 years.”

As Omicron rages, once again we find ourselves physically distanced longing for social solidarity. As we wrap up two years of quarantine, we begin to realize it is time to return home even if home is much different than we’ve ever known it. As climate change threatens our home, we begin to realize the way forward has to be a different road than the one we have traversed thus far. As people injured by churches search for care, kindness, and the Eternal One outside of church walls, we begin to realize that the road forward is not the road that brought us here.

Today is the first day of the next 50 years, of the next 250 years, of the next 1300 years.

We are in a global dark night of the soul. We are in a climate dark night of life in its fullness. Many of us find ourselves facing Omicron with new exhaustion, frustration, anxiety, sorrow.

We are in a striking event that wants to give us an intuitive grasp of reality. The Eternal One is close, as Psalm 34:18 says, to our broken hearts and crushed Spirits. And they have wisdom and insight to share with us. This is a season ripe for epiphany.

I want to invite us to pour over Psalm 72 this week. I want to invite us to make Matthew 1:12 a guide into prayer this week. “Having been warned, they returned home by a different road.”

As we begin, this moment, this week, this month, this year, this very breath, as we begin the next 50 years, the next 250 years, the next 1300 years, the Eternal One is near and offering us an epiphany that we cannot return by the road we came. As the Magi longed for a different kind of king and kindled the light of the Christ child, we long for a different kind of kin-dom and kindle the collective light of Christ amongst us. We will find home by a different road.

The task this week, this moment, this year — the very serious task that I do want all of us to engage deeply and daily — is to listen for Spirit, leading in dreams, in breaths, in shared wisdom, to the road that will lead us to our true home, a kin-dom full of liberating love and justice and radical welcome for the whole family of creation.

 

Date

Jan 09 2022
Expired!
Category

Speaker