SERMONS

I can see them in my mind’s eye. Connie, Doris, Lyn, and Judy, who when I was a teenager and frankly not always happy to be at church, always greeted me with a hug and a smile. And there was Erwin, a curmudgeonly yet kind old man, who taught us all how to be acolytes, and was always there before everyone else on Sunday morning. Helen Mayer, who made the best fudge I have ever tasted and always gave me a taste of it! And Pete, who traveled with my dad and me in tow into that mysterious place called the boiler room, forever working to keep the heat and hot water going in the sanctuary and building next door.

Saints who welcomed this pimply teenager and loved me unconditionally and made sure I knew that I mattered. I don’t know that I consciously realized and acknowledged the welcome and love they gave to me then, but I certainly see it now. And I definitely did not see their work or the work of countless others in that faith community called church as work of the resurrection then. But I certainly see it now.

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Scientists working in the deep sea off the coast of New Zealand have found three types of sharks that glow in the dark. They are fairly sure that they developed the capacity to glow in the dark because of where they lived, which makes sense since they live in the deep, dark sea.

Tonight, October 31st, All Hallow’s Eve – more commonly known as Halloween – many people will light candles in pumpkins. A light in the darkness of a different sort, and in the secular arena a night on which we see scary costumes contrasted with light and airy costumes; walks through the cold and dreary night contrasted with sweets and delights shared in abundance.

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There are different forms of healing, and the deepest forms of healing may not always be the ones we think that we are looking for.

There is physical healing – like Bartimaeus who calls out to Jesus in today’s gospel reading, asking for his sight to be restored. This might be what most people think of when they think of healing, and in desperation and need we have probably found ourselves asking for God’s help to heal ourselves or the ones we love. And because the nature of healing lies in the realm of mystery, sometimes physical healing comes, and sometimes it doesn’t, in ways that can deeply frustrate, and anger and confuse us.

Then there’s healing of mind, and heart, and soul. Healing for grief and anger. Healing from despair or abuse. These, too, lie somewhat in the realm of mystery, in that even with wonderful therapists and supportive family and friends healing sometimes comes, or sometimes takes years or an entire lifetime, or sometimes manages to elude those seeking that healing altogether. That healing of all that needs healing does not always take place reminds us that this side of heaven, we exist in a broken world, where the light of Christ, perfect though it is, can only break in imperfectly upon our lives and our needs. The resurrecting work of the cross, including healing, will not be seen in its fullness until all things reconciled to Christ at the end of time.

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For the birth of each of my kids, we enlisted the help of a doula, someone who in addition to the midwife, supports the mom as she is bringing new life into this world.

The anglicized word “doula” comes from the Greek doulos, which is the same Greek word behind the word “servant,” used by Jesus in today’s gospel. Contrasting the life of those who would follow God and Jesus with the rulers of the world who would “lord it over” others, Jesus says, “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant.” (Mark 10: 43)

In other words, if you would have others look at us and our lives and consider them to be remarkable, then we should, kind of like a birth doula, be learning how to serve others, supporting Christ’s new life work in and through them. This is the work of teachers lifting up students, parents and grandparents encouraging children, and teenagers reminding complacent adults that we need to keep working to change the things that are broken in the world. There is not one among us who will not find, this very week, that we have an opportunity – or many opportunities – in which Christ’s servant work (doula work) cannot help to encourage and bring forth new life that makes this world a better place, that makes someone’s life a better life.

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What are the priorities in our lives and how do we express them?

When the young man in today’s gospel lesson approaches Jesus, telling him that he has kept all the commandments, and asking Jesus what else he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus looks at him with love and tells him to go and sell all that he owns and then come back and follow him.

In other words, Jesus is saying, reorder your priorities. Don’t just live by your head and the letter of the Law, but with your heart, remembering who you are and remembering whose you are.

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