Epiphany 7 February 24, 2019

The Rev. Janet Campbell

EPIPHANY 7  Year C

Genesis 45:3-11, 15; Ps. 37:1-10; 1 Corin 15:35-38, 42-50; Luke 6:27-38

 

Christ Episcopal Church

Tacoma, Washington

The Rev. Janet Campbell

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Annual Meeting Sunday

 

 

“Out from your throne, O God, there streams

a great and gladdening river,”

we sang as we began our liturgy,

“through all your world it wells and teems,

a loving source for ever;

There creatures drink and trees may grow

and everything that lives may know

the God of hosts is with us.”

(Susan Palo Cherwin “Out From Your Throne, O God,” St. 1

@2010 Augsburg Fortress in Come, Beloved of the Maker”)

 

e poet, Susan Palo Cherwin,

bids us sing the waters of life,

flowing out,

in that astonishing biblical image,

from God’s throne:

 

rivers, streams, lakes, oceans

giving life to the earth and

sustaining all God’s living creatures.

 

 

And in gracious metaphor,

Cherwin bids us sing the waters of love,

rivers of love

flowing out from God’s heart:

the abundance, mercy and compassion

that is God with us.

 

Jesus was bathed in that love,

indeed,

was that love.

 

“I say to you,”

he told the crowd

gathered around him,

“let God’s love

freely flow through you . . .”

 

“Do not deny that flow,

as if you were not worthy of it.

 

Do not divert that flow,

as if that love were only for some

and not for others.

 

Do not dam up that flow

as if that love

were only for you.”

 

 

“Do not let anger,

resentment,

prejudice,

jealousy,

enmity,

fear,

get in the way of God’s love.”

 

But

“Love your enemies,

do good, and lend . . .

be merciful,

be kind,

do not judge,

do not condemn,

but forgive . . .

 

 

And

give, give, give

as God gives to you

 

“a good measure,

pressed down, shaken together”

 

more than is required,

more than is fair,

more than is deserved . . .

 

 

like the merchant

who pours grain

into the measuring basket . . .

 

then presses it down,

shakes it together,

to make room for more . . .

 

as much as can possibly fit

in that basket,

 

and then more, running over,

spilling over,

in all its golden abundance . . .

 

Give it all.

 

Give to your enemies,

to sinners,

to the wicked,

to the thief.

 

God’s extravagant love

washes over

the deserving

and undeserving

the worthy

and unworthy

alike.

 

 

Life in God’s kingdom,

says Jesus,

is marked by such

astonishing, unbounded,

absurd-in-the-eyes-of-the-world

generosity . . .

 

Jesus charges his listeners

to be merciful and generous

beyond measure,

to love beyond all (human) reason,

and in so doing,

to reflect the compassionate heart of God.

 

Let love flow.

 

 

When I lived in Chicago,

I frequently spent time in

Loyola University’s

Chapel of Madonna della Strada,

on the shore of Lake Michigan.

 

I could walk there from my home.

 

 

The baptismal font

was a great pool in the floor

at the east end of the chapel,

fed by water flowing down an incline

from a smaller, raised pool.

 

Looking from the chapel

out the east facing doors,

all you could see beyond that upper pool

was the limitless expanse

of the lake

whose waters seemed to be pouring

into the upper pool

and down the incline

into the lower pool.

 

As if the limitless love of God

were pouring through those doors

into that place

where new Christians are born

into that love.

 

As if the chapel itself

were a place about to be inundated

with love.

 

 

And when the west-facing doors . . .

at the other end of the chapel

were opened,

the city-facing doors,

you could imagine that love

pouring out into the city

pouring out as the worshipping assembly

poured out,

streams of love

for the lonely,

the hungry,

the poor,

the despairing . . .

 

 

How clearly the design of that chapel

revealed the dynamic

of God’s love.

 

 

On this Annual Meeting Sunday,

we give thanks for God’s love

welling up in this place

to embrace us anew

each week as we gather.

 

We celebrate what that love

has done in us and through us

in the past year.

 

And we renew our commitment

to be that love

in the world.

 

 

For among all the things we are and do,

all the things we will talk about

and consider

at our meeting,

 

under, behind,

motivating them all,

 

our reason for being,

each of us,

and this Body called Christ Church, Tacoma . . .

of which we are each a part,

 

is God’s love.

 

That love

which is the wellspring of

all that is good . . .

 

for from that love

flow streams of

mercy,

forgiveness,

freedom,

compassion,

justice,

peace.

 

 

Jesus’ way of love

is not meant to be

a gut-wrenching struggle

against the

all-too-real imperfections

of our hearts . . .

 

but

a letting go of our pre-occupation

with those imperfections . . .

they have already been washed away

by Love . . .

 

a stepping out from the prison of self . . .

the door

has already been opened wide

by Love . . .

 

a flowing into

the glorious freedom

of the children of God . . .

 

 

“How blest the people where you dwell,”

we sang with Susan Palo Cherwin,

“alive with water flowing;

your gracious river frees and fills,

abundant life bestowing;

there deeds of love and mercy show,

that everything that lives may know

the God of hosts is with us.”

(Susan Palo Cherwin “Out From Your Throne, O God,” St. 3

@2010 Augsburg Fortress in Come, Beloved of the Maker”)

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