In the name of the God the Creator, Jesus the Liberator, and the Holy Spirit the Sustainer. AMEN.
The Christian life is filled with the unexpected. I am impressed with that fact more and more as time goes by. I am now well into my fifth year of ministry at St. Peter’s. It has been such a blessing to me. I am so grateful to God every time I look out in the congregation and see our pews filled up so much more than in years past. Last Sunday Ian gave me a wonderful drawing he did of St. Peter’s. You can clearly recognize the church building. But what I love most about this picture is the rainbow and many colors over the building. It reminds me of the beauty of what is going on here at St. Peter’s.
In the words of Isaiah today we hear that God “did awesome deeds that we did not expect.” To be honest that is what is happening at St. Peter’s. I never expected all that is going on here to be happening. And so I’m also grateful that God is capable of so much more than I ever give her credit for.
The Collect for today calls on God to “give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.” The movement from darkness to light is one that appears many times in the Holy Scriptures. And as we have been moving into greater and greater darkness it is something that we can well understand. I don’t think anyone relishes these days of longer darkness. I know they mess up my sleep schedule and are just plain inconvenient. But all of us struggle with issues of darkness in our life. We struggle with it individually as we strive to become the people God has called us to be. We struggle was a parish as we likewise grow and develop, changing long held patterns to accommodate new growth and new ideas. As a community we face this same struggle from time to time.
In the Gospel today as well in the words of Isaiah we hear God spoken of as our Father. It is an image we often hear. We heard it at our last mass on Thanksgiving Day. It is a very powerful image of God. Although the one drawback is that it is a very patriarchal image. I much prefer the image of God as mother and father.
But regardless of whether you see God best or easiest in the image of mother or father the question is what does that mean to you. What does is mean when we voice the expression that God is our father or mother?
If some asked you this afternoon to describe who you are in relation to God in one short sentence, what would your answer be. There are many answers available. Many very good answers, but remember you are limited to one short sentence.
I know that for myself, the descriptive sentence I like is that “I am a beloved child of God.” For me that nicely sums up both my relationship with God and my relationship in the world. As all of you know the world can often be a very cruel place to live. Even the church can reflect that cruelty in the way in which people are occasionally treated. By remember that I am a beloved child of God helps to put things into perspective for myself. It reminds me that my relationship with God can never be change. I will be loved by God into eternity. You are a beloved child of God and will and you will be loved by God into eternity. That is an awesome thought.
When we face evil or are treated poorly by those around us it is important to remember that we are still and always will be beloved children of God. When it seems like the world is standing against us and nothing ever goes right, remember that you are still and always will be a beloved child of God.
As we begin a new church year and look forward with excitement, trepidation, anticipation or fear as to what lies ahead for each one of us. As we look back on our mistakes. As we look back at times when our church community, family, or friends may have failed us. When we face the dark nights in which we may occasionally be tempted to think that even God has abandoned us, call to mind that one sentence of yours. Or borrow the one that I have borrowed from others: “I am a beloved child of God.”