Date: December 12, 2010
Liturgical Sunday: Advent 3
RCL Scripture: Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146:5-10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11
Sermon Title: Joy
Knox Presbyterian [audio:https://wordsfromthemiddle.ca/wp-content/uploads/101212_-_Knox.mp3|titles=Joy]
St. Mark’s Presbyterian [audio:https://wordsfromthemiddle.ca/wp-content/uploads/101212_-_St_Marks.mp3|titles=Joy]
December 7, 2010 This is brand new country for me. I am putting up this much of the service stuff, i.e. Lectionary texts and sermon title, on Tuesday. I thought I’d give it a go to see if there was any input on the basis of the texts or the sermon title before I get to Sunday’s services. If any of you out there would like to see something covered in particular, or if the texts speak to you in regard to joy in any way, I’d love to hear it. It is a small thing but if you would like to see the hymns that will be sung around these texts please click this link, https://sites.google.com/a/holtslander.com/knoxstmarks/home. By the way, I am not planning/hoping/depending on any pre-Sunday input, but seeing as [for the first time maybe ever] I am thinking this far in advance I thought I’d throw the possibility out there.
As I have mentioned to many of you personally, and mentioned in at least one previous post (at least so I hope), I have stopped preaching from a manuscript. I have also dispensed most weeks with any sort of notes. This is not crass hubris but, is rather, a very conscious move into dependence on the Holy Spirit and eye contact to create the sermon as a “living thing” for the congregation I am looking at and is looking at me. I am very humbly aware that if the Holy Spirit shows up all I can provide for these wonderful people at Knox and St. Mark’s is cleverness and rhetorical tricks . . . I am exceedingly grateful that neither congregation is going to let me get away with either.
Reading the passages for this coming Sunday several things come to mind.
First — crocuses in this Isaiah passage will forever remind me of my Grandma Ruby. Her passing from this life into the next was one of those spaces in my life that was simultaneously joyful and full of grief. Her weak knees and feeble hands were strengthened as she was welcomed into the Divine Family’s embrace. And as we returned to Regina from her funeral in Assiniboia, with that first child in my belly, I pulled the car over to the side of the highway. I’d never seen crocuses in the wild before. Late April and it was about time that the crocuses might be out in the hills. We got out of the car and couldn’t see crocuses anywhere, but climbed through the barbed wire fence anyway. And then the first clump of crocuses burst upon my brain. And then another and another and another. I’d practically been stepping on them as I walked from the car. So often joy is hidden like that in my life. Without pause, without reflection, without time to adjust to this new thing I see, I would miss it.
And then the magnificat…the thought of Mary as she makes room in her body for the growing of the babe and the joy and terror and fullness of that strikes me often. Joy as she makes room first in her body, then in her physical space — each time releasing the child as they move from one space to the next.
Part of what is striking me about joy as I write tonight is the complexity and nuance of joy. The ways that joy can allow for a range of emotion and still be exultant.
Looking forward to your thoughts as the day approaches.
I thought this might fit is a comment a bit better than anywhere else and it is not a deviation from my unstated policy to never apologize for a sermon. There is a current buzz phrase out there that I can’t say I like in any way that goes, “it is what it is” but when it comes to the living nature of a sermon it is actually true. All I want to say about this week’s sermons is that when they were preached I was not completely healthy, as my voice gives witness to in an unmistakable way. This is not to apologize for the sermons but just to explain the brevity.
Be well everyone. Come Lord Jesus,