In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We are all here this morning for a reason. Whether we got up, got dressed, and got here because Mom said so or because it’s just what you’ve always done on a Sunday morning or because you’re desperately searching for answers — whatever the reason we give ourselves, the truth of the matter is that God called you here today. God called you here today because he wants to meet you where you’re at — and then bring you close (to his heart).
If you’ve been at Emmanuel over the last several weeks, you’ll have heard about the shindig we threw this morning. Journey Through the Seasons, a celebration and exploration of the church year, came about because the entire leadership team of this parish — the staff and the vestry and the volunteers who are committed to worshiping Christ here and now and in the future — agreed that as post-pandemic pieces have come back together, it’s time to remind ourselves of who we really are — and to whom we really belong, even when we are scattered. Not only are we a church that has an entire service in Elizabethan English. Not only are we a church with a wonderful choir and chanted masses. We are a church governed and renewed by a story we tell again and again, day after day and year after year.
For many or most of us, that fact is strikingly different than anything we’ve encountered elsewhere. Where else do a group of people with varying passions and different incomes get together to rehearse and recite a single story? Yet that is exactly what we’re doing here today — and it’s what the church has done for as long as anyone can remember.
And that’s because we live in a time of expectation. When the first disciples began to die around the 2nd century A.D., the church realized that no one could predict when Christ would once again arrive on the scene. Truly, as Jesus said, his return would be like a late and long-awaited Bridegroom. There’s nothing for it but to wait and wait well.
This is not easy — because the tick of the clock, the push and pull of the seasons, the births and deaths that crowd all of our lives will inevitably turn our eyes from what is not visible to what is. We want to be all-in for Christ. We want to be ready whenever he comes, but the task is hard; and we are weak, and we are easily lead astray.
Thanks be to God, then, that every day dawns anew. With the rising of the sun, we remember the rising of the Son of Righteousness. With its setting, we remember that we are upheld by the one who never sleeps. God, in his mercy and his might, has taken time in his hands and made it holy.
And so it is that we can see the gifts God has given to humankind. Each moment, each second of the day, is a gift from God to us, a chance to lean more deeply into our relationship with him. Redemption was accomplished in one act, thousands of years ago; but because God has claimed time for his very own, that event has become our reality. It is something alive, something working, something that changes everything.
When we come to believe in the story of Jesus' dying and rising and ruling over everything — the cosmos, the universe — the ebb and flow of our lives, the periods of lightness and darkness, become signs of a deeper life, an eternal life. As this story sinks into our bones, as it becomes the story that explains all others, our spirits are made right and our hearts made clean — because we will have entered the very life of Christ. Our whole selves will be swept up into the drama that is God redeeming and remaking this world.
And what happens then but that we are remade into the image of Christ. What happens then but that we become the kind of people who reach out to the tax collectors and sinners of our age with the good news of a King who sacrificed everything he had in order to save the one who was lost.
This is the mystery of God that unfolds year after year, season after season. It is a journey we are all on together, as we follow Christ from birth through death and on into glory until one day we see him face-to-face. AMEN.