Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chirps off the Ol Block - Luke 1:68-79

Luke 1:68-79
Luke 1:68-79 The topic of this morning’s sermon is how the dreams of others shape our living... Pee Wee asks his friend Jeffrey: How is the baby bird like its dad? Jeffrey: How? Pee Wee: It’s a chirp off the old block. – Submitted by David D., Guyton, Ga.
A corny joke, a desperate attempt, to bring levity to what otherwise is a pretty heavy sermon.
How do you know who you are supposed to be in this world? How much are we shaped by our fathers and mothers, our families, those who have gone before us? Chirps off the old block? How much are we shaped by the dreams of our communities? Our society? By The American Dream--whatever that means to you? How do these dreams and visions determine who we become?

Some of us may attempt to rebel against these visions of others. Some of us may have blindly or naively attempted to live up to their dreams. Others of us may strive all our lives, with every intention to fulfill the dream...but never quite able to live up to the expectations... In Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless me Ultima - The young boy, Antonio, wrestles with competing dreams of who he is supposed to be: Antonio’s father’s family -- los Márez, vaqueros of the llano, “exuberant, restless people, wandering across the ocean of the plain”-- beckon the boy to live as one of them... Antonio’s mother’s family - los Lunas, farmers who carefully and faithfully care for the land - hope their blood would lead Antonio to be a farmer and “keep their customs and traditions.” Or, if God granted it so, that he become a priest. (p.5 - Bless Me Ultima) Even if parents attempt to be hands off, allowing their children to become who they are to become, or even if parents are absent, or aloof. There is no escaping becoming the subjects of the dreams and visions of others... President Barack Obama speaks to this in his own experience in his autobiographical Dreams From My Father. Born to an absent black Kenyan father and a working white American mother - absent in another way-- he tells of his journey toward self understanding. In this process, he had had an image of his father through the stories told about him by his mother and grandparents: “They all had their favorites, each one seamless, burnished smooth from repeated use.”# As a result, “All my life,” Obama says, “I...carried a single image of my father, one that I had sometimes rebelled against but...never questioned, one that I had later tried to take as my own. The brilliant scholar, the generous friend, the upstanding leader – my father had been all those things….”# But then, as an adult, he learns more about some of the struggles of his father... In the haunting quiet of one of those never-ending nights when we have nowhere to go but toward the deep stirrings from within, Mr. Obama confronts a new image of his father: “ I sat in the glow of a single light bulb, rocking slightly on a hard-backed chair, [the] image [I previously] had suddenly vanished. Replaced by… what? A bitter drunk? An abusive husband? A defeated, lonely bureaucrat? To think that all my life I had been wrestling with nothing more than a ghost?... Who was he to be in this world...? Mr. Obama asks. When he visits Kenya for the first time, he meets family who project their personal hopes and dreams onto the young American relative. What does it means to fulfill my family’s expectations? Obama wonders....# When he goes to his father’s grave he is overcome by emotions and tears. Kneeling at the grave, he says: “I realized that who I was, what I cared about, was no longer just a matter of intellect or obligation, no longer a construct of words. I saw that my life in America – the black life, the white life, the sense of abandonment I’d felt as a boy, the frustration and hope I’d witnessed in Chicago [as a community organizer]– all of it was connected with this small plot of earth an ocean away, connected by more than the accident of a name or the color of my skin. The pain I felt was my father’s pain. My questions were my [families]’ questions. Their struggle, my birthright.” # Their struggle, my birthright-- Obama names a universal experience. The struggles of our fathers, the struggles of our mothers, the struggles of our families, the struggles of those who most powerfully shape our lives, are our birthright. Those struggles define the dreams and visions of those who go before us... those struggles ultimately determine who we are, as we choose to rebel against or ignore them, or to live into them assume them, take them on as our matter how valid or worthy they may be. My father sought to become a well respected and successful businessman--as he struggled to gain the approval of his father. How does has his struggle become my struggle? My mother taught English to adult immigrants, and in this way struggled to subvert an economic system of oppression founded upon slave labor. How does her struggle become my struggle? My church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), has been at the forefront on many social issues in its not too distant history - and now struggles to be relevant in this changing world? How is my church’s struggle become my struggle? My country has been a beacon of liberty and hope throughout her short history - and now struggles against corporate tyranny, rampant militarism, and lost children who live under her wings of freedom and therefore can legally possess guns... how does my country’s struggle become my struggle? The struggles are set over and against, again and again, a vision for a different life. A better hopes for. We are the only ones who can truly evaluate the struggles of those who have gone before us, the struggles that become our struggle.... Are those struggles, is attempting to fulfill those dreams, worth the effort? Are we being challenged and encouraged to take on new struggles? Am I willing to take them on?, I must ask. You must ask. And in so doing, how will I pass these struggles on as part of my legacy? And what about God you might be asking? Where does God fit in? Does God dream of a new reality? Does God’s struggle become my struggle? our struggle? Zechariah, sings this ancient hymn of praise in the first chapter of Luke.... in the light of the birth of his own child, who would be known as John the Baptist. Zechariah, sings a vision - a dream! My child will prepare the way for the liberator messiah. My child will grant to his people knowledge of salvation My child will proclaim to the people a message of penitence. Zechariah, an uncle, envisions his nephew Jesus in this song, as the one who will guide the people into the way of peace... An impossible dream? Are not all the dreams impossible?# Are not all struggles insurmountable? This is why they are that hope may exist. (following drawn from Ray Brown’s article: The Annunciation to Zechariah, the Birth of the Baptist, and the Benedictus (Luke 1:5-25, 57-80) Zechariah -a priest--sings a an ancient hymn of praise, sung by an ancient people who sang it long before the birth of John the baptist - It is a song of hope, of longing, a dream! passed down from one generation to the next... perhaps projected onto each and every child born into the community, in the hopes that that child would be the one to fulfill great expectations... bring liberation from the struggle prepare the way for salvation... This ancient psalm of praise may be the oldest preserved Christian prayer of praise, dreams expressed entirely in the language of ancestors. Now mysteriously, as we engage the story of Advent and Christ’s birth, this dream is passed onto us... a vision that may powerfully shape our own story. As we await the birth of Jesus the messiah, picture yourself in this story. Close your eyes, see how this story is told about you: And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’ In such a time as we need the way prepared for Peace to rain down upon this earth I’ve just recently noticed, after 6 years of preaching here, a common thread found in each and every sermon: a vision cast for us all to live into! By God’s grace this vision would be the vision God has for the world as revealed in scripture. That is the ultimate vision, the dramatic dream, passed down to us. What does God dream for our lives? What does God dream we become? What is the struggle God hopes we engage? It is spoken plainly in this ancient song: Forgiveness People who forgive. When we forgive, we are freed, God’s dream for our lives and for this world is realized. Mercy Live lives full of mercy. When we show mercy and when we love mercy shown, God’s dream for our lives and for this world is realized. Peace Lives guided away from darkness into the way of peace. When we turn from the darkness of hatred, bitterness, and anger, and instead allow ourselves to be guided into the way of peace God’s dream for our lives and for this world is realized. Children of the promise. CHildren of hope That is what each and everyone of you are. You, like John the Baptist, can fulfill the dreams of Zechariah. Fulfill the dreams of ancient forefathers and foremothers, who longed for a better world and a better life for each and every child born into this world. You can fulfill the dreams of God as you allow the ways of forgiveness, mercy, and peace to guide your own feet... And in this way, we prepare the way for the coming prince of peace ... Let us pray: Many dreams and visions compete to shape us into who we are, O God. May your dream, Precious Lord, shape our lives so powerfully, that we begin to witness the messiah present in this world. May forgiveness, mercy, and peace, determine who we are to be, and in so doing, may this old world, become a brand new world, the world you envision. Amen Communion Liturgy Advent The Lord be with you Lift up your hearts Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. God, You breathed into us life. You formed us in your image. You call to us again and again through the prophets, through burning bushes. through scriptures, through Zechariah, through Jesus the Christ - to live into your dream. Together with all the heavenly angels and all the creatures on earth, we forever sing to the glory of your name: Santo Santo Santo... It is in the scriptures that we learn: A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of God shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of God. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall show mercy to the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist. Christ came into the world, and the world has been redeemed: este es el misterio de la fe... Cristo or DYING YOU Destroyed our death.... By your Holy Spirit, may we live into the hopeful vision of life: The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den. They will not hurt or destroy on Your holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. May it be so in our lives now and always. Amen We live into this vision as we partake together in this sacrament. En la noche que fue entregado.... De la misma manera despues de la cena tomo la copa y dijo: Welcome one another, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. It is here at this table that we experience that welcome to the very fullest extent. Here, everyone is invited to join in the feast. If the servers would come forward. All is ready Rejoice, O you people"; All are welcome "Praise the Lord, and let all the peoples praise him"; Come. Y que el Dios de la esperanza los llene de todo gozo y paz en el creer, para que abunden en esperanza por el poder del Espíritu Santo.  

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