Monday, February 24, 2014

Ashes to Ashes, Mush to Mush

(This homily is interactive with the congregation of adults and children and teens.  Some of these questions did receive answers! )

Yesterday the President offered the speech known as the State of the Union.  I am sure that its scheduling was an accident; I don’t expect that anyone consulted the church calendar.   Yet, Lent is certainly about the state of our union.  Not the nation, instead our union with God and his people.  What does union mean?  It comes from the same root as the Spanish word for one: uno.  It is the idea of one, but it is a verb-like active one-ness, it is becoming one even though we are also hundreds and hundreds. What are we doing to form a more perfect community of Christian disciples?  What are we doing to love our neighbors, all our neighbors, as much as God loves all of us? The work of the church is to strive for union with God and one another in Christ.  In baptism we are brought into this work…we to commit to being one with Jesus, one with his mission of setting us free from our love of things that do no good at all.

(A young friend is building up a tower of cardboard bricks, and I continue to knock them down…and she starts over again.)

These bricks could be all the things we do and ideas we have and ways we feel that make us one with Christ and one with each other.  However, they keep falling down.  What if these bricks are not our foundation, but instead are the things we put between us and our union with God and his mission for us?  For example: the joy I feel every time I knock these bricks down.  Anyone else think that looked fun?  Anyone else want to do it?  

She is working so hard…and I keep tearing it down.  It is a little bit of being mean,  a little bit of using my power for my own jollies, a little bit of destructiveness.  I am putting my own selfish silly joy ahead of everything else, and that is sin. Maybe this one (holding a brick) is the fact that I can be mean to people in my life, being mean about them.  For the ways I tear them down in my mind, notice all their wrongs without looking at my own.  Maybe these bricks are greed. Maybe these bricks are achieving rather than loving. Maybe they are obsessing rather than caring. Maybe they are a calendar so full that God and Sabbath take a back seat. What are your bricks…what builds up walls that keep you from being one with your neighbors and one with God?

I need the children with paper and pencils to get up and share them.  I also need the teens with pitchers of water to bring them up and pour them in this bowl.  Take a moment and write or draw on these sheets of paper whatever is on your bricks.  What keeps you from union with God and union with his people in Christ? Maybe you can use a brick for a surface to write on.  When you are ready come and place them in this water.  Watch what happens. 

(The paper is dissolving paper…they all turn to mush.)

All of these sins, all of this stuff that wrecks the state of our union with God is ultimately nothing…mush.  They are no good for anything now…except going back to God.  Ashes to ashes, mush to mush.  You see…for even when we resist….ultimately we will have union with God.  So why waste the time we have been given, why waste the life that is lived between dust and dust?  God made us and loves us and calls us to union with him and with his people.  The Holy Trinity works with us when we strive for his way. Give yourself to a holy Lent.  Seek to turn bricks that keep us apart into bricks that make union with Christ and his people.

Jane Alice Gober
Family Ash Wednesday Service, 2013
Cathedral of St. John, ABQ

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