January 9, 2008

first series of sermons: thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path... following Christ in the season of Epiphany

okay... so it's a long title for a sermon series. But I'm starting out this new pilgrimage with my congregation by inviting them on a journey - and the Light of Christ is our guide. Last week we talked about the star that led the wise men to the Christ Child. This week, we'll talk about the Spirit of God that came down on Jesus at his baptism - a light that lives within us and sends us forth into ministry. After that - we'll do the calling of the disciples and the reminder that Christ is the light which shines in the darkness, calling all people to him. Finally, the trip up the mountain, and the transfiguration... more light!

It all works out in my head, but figuring out how to incorporate all of the ideas I have into these worship services - especially as I'm brand new at this is difficult. I have all sorts of experience planning worship... but a much more informal worship. I like the traditional stuff... I like doxologies and liturgy and I want to do so much with the space we are worshipping in! But... baby steps... I'm trying not to do it all at once (for my sake as much as for the congregation).

Today I'm a bit stuck as I write my sermon... this idea of the interplay between water and light keeps dancing around in my head. And then I came across a Wendell Berry poem: The Gift of Gravity

All that passes descends,
and ascends again unseen
into the light: the river
coming down from sky
to hills, from hills to sea,
and carving as it moves,
to rise invisible,
gathered to light, to return
again. “The river’s injury
is its shape.” I’ve learned no more.
We are what we are given
and what is taken away;
blessed be the name
of the giver and taker.
For everything that comes
is a gift, the meaning always
carried out of sight
to renew our whereabouts,
always a starting place.
And every gift is perfect
in its beginning, for it
is “from above, and cometh down
from the Father of lights.”Gravity is grace.

The rain that falls upon us comes from God. And it washes us clean. It surrounds us and refreshes us. But the light comes as well. It dries us off and the water evaporates. It is a cycle necessary for life. "for everything that comes/ is a gift, the meaning always/ carried out of sight/ to renew our whereabouts,/ always a starting place." As we renew our baptismal covenants this Sunday, our whereabouts are renewed. We are given a new starting place. And we pray that the water and the light will lead us to God.

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