Sunday, June 14, 2009

Four Funeral and a Wedding

Grace and greetings.

This past week has been another emotional roller coaster and left me drained. After the funeral on Monday for Martha Marie, the murder victim, another prayer was answered but it meant the passing of another person. Martha Aiken, a pillar in the community and church for many decades entered the Church Triumphant with a smile and tear Tuesday morning. She had been ill for the last several years, and truly missed her husband, Robert, who had passed away several years earlier. Her funeral service was probably the longest that I have attended or officiated, five and a half hours. Her sister, the Reverend Mary Ann Warden, helped officiate the service with me. It was a time of mourning, as well as a time of celebration.

Then yesterday, we had another celebration, a time of joy with a wedding. It was good to have the people gather for a joyous occasion. From last Tuesday to yesterday, that meant four funerals and a Wedding. I kept looking around for Hugh Grant to show up...oh wait a minute; the movie was four WEDDINGS and a funeral.

Here is my message from this evening....

“We are a New Creation”
2 Corinthians 5.6-17

As we hear the words of Paul, we can with confidence come together to become one in Christ. With Paul, we yearn to be with God, but we are still here, alive in this place and time; so even if we are not comfortable, or at home in our own bodies, we live them for God. As we go about the business of our own lives, God will call in account of our lives for what we do with the gifts God has given us; do you use the gifts for good or ill?

Christ is giving us the opportunity to choose which of the many answers we may have in life, to choose to live solely for God. Make all our choices for God, in all that we do. Many of us speak of our faith, our ability to pray and sing for God; and then walk by our sister or brother as if they do not exist. We may continue to see others from a human point of view, and make our judgments on what we see and what we know. We make judgments on where they may or may not go to church; what clothes they wear; where they may or may not work; how they treat their families. If we have Christ in our hearts, we are given the gift to no longer see each other in human terms, but as God sees us. Do we see somebody who is intoxicated or high most of the time? Or do we see the Child of God who hurts so much, that the only way they can deal with the pain is to drink?

Throughout the ages, the people in the church have been called hypocrites, because they are seen professing their faith on Sunday morning, and rejecting the existence of their Christian brothers and sisters week in and week out. Being human, we hold on to grudges; old beliefs; past histories of each other. We are called to view each other as God views us, we are called to forgive and to love so that we may become a new creation in Christ.

But that new creation is not just for us as individuals, it is for us as a society as well. We have experienced death in our own community all too often. We mourn our loss, and look to one another to comfort us. Do we hear the call to life? Do we as a community realize that we are a New Creation, called and loved by God?

God continues to bestow gift after gift upon us, as individuals and as a community. Are we willing and able to recognize those gifts from God? Sometimes we think, God answers the prayers of one that may not favor many. Martha Aiken prayed for the last year or so to be lead home. Many of us, myself included, were not ready for her to leave. But now that she has returned home to God, there are others that will be called to step forward to become the pillar of the community that Martha was for us. Sometimes we follow in somebody else’s shadow or footsteps, never to take on the gifts we are given until that person is no longer with us to rely on. As Jesus was preparing his disciples for his departure, he told them that he had to leave in order for the Holy Spirit to come and guide them. In Martha’s case, she knew her faults and failings, she knew too, that many people placed her on a pedestal; which is the last place she wanted to be. She wanted to live her life for God, using the gifts that God gave her, that she may be a New Creation and help the Inupiat people to be that beloved New Creation as well.

Go and claim your gifts; proclaim the gifts that God has given you, as individuals and as a community. Become that New Creation. Tell all the world, so that all may know; In Christ Jesus, we are a new creation, our old life has passed away, and everything has become new again.

Peace and blessings.

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