Sunday, September 24, 2023 – Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost
by The Rev. Tammy Hobbs Miracky
Sermon preached by The Rev. Tammy Hobbs Miracky
Below is a TRANSCRIPT of the homily. It may vary considerably from the prepared version. Please do not cite without permission.
September, that time of transition, of transformation, we are in a season of change children and young people are going back to school, teachers have returned to classrooms for all of us a new energy, maybe in the air, more cars on the road, more people moving about on the sidewalks, more events and activities competing for our time. In this season of transition last Sunday was the first gathering of this year for the Breakfast Club for younger members of the All Saints community. We gathered in the dining room for a shared meal, our first in several months, and a lesson that focused on the seasons of the church here. We talked about how time can be circular in a way, returning each year as we experience each season again, we talked about how when we return to that place of new beginning, some things are the same.
There we were gathered together again, sharing breakfast singing familiar Breakfast Club songs, saying hello to many of the same teachers from last year. So some things stay the same as the seasons turned. We also talked about how each time the seasons begin again, there will be some things that change. Some new people may arrive. Some people who were here with you in the past may go away. These times or transition may be energizing, there can be a freshness in the air and anticipation and our spirit. At the same time. These moments of change can be hard. Sad, even scary. I sense these emotions as I take in today’s Old Testament passage from Exodus, the Israelites to say the least are passing through a season of change. The change they’re facing, though, is much more than just a turning of the seasons. They are living through a fundamental dis continuity, or rupture. Everything in their experience has been left behind and they are moving toward a life they know nothing of the old behind the new not yet arrived, they don’t know how this is going to turn out.
And we find them today in the muddled middle of the story. They don’t even know if they’re going to survive to see what happens next. And in this place where we find them. They’re experiencing tremendous fear, deep uncertainty. So here they are, and they’re scared, and they don’t like it. They even begin to idealize their past and it’s not a very ideal past by the way they were enslaved in Egypt. But they begin to think that that was preferable to the uncertainty of their current circumstance. They begin to call out to Moses and Aaron but really to God. Where are you? How could you have done this to us? We need you. But here we are stuck in the wilderness. I can’t help but think that we as the larger church are in a similar moment. The future does not look like the past. And we may idealize that past. But ideal or not, we can’t return to it. We are being called forward. We don’t know what the future holds. We, too, are in this muddled middle of our story. And you might even say that all saints as a congregation, is in a similar moment, perhaps less pronounced. This year won’t look like last year, or years past. You two are being called into the future. And you don’t know what that future holds.
Some people who were with you through these last seasons won’t be with you moving forward, and some new people will come. So here, too, we are in that muddled middle. This is life. These reflections may help us in our understanding of the Israelites in today’s scripture, rather than criticize them for being disgruntled for being people of little faith, we can begin to understand where they’re coming from. Right? We can empathize with their reaction, when they are overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty. What do they do? They grumble. They complain. They cry out, if only we had died in the land of Egypt, they say for you have brought us into this wilderness to kill all of us with hunger. But through their lament, much like Job and his affliction, through their lament, they remain in relationship with God, their cries their complaints, demonstrate that they expect they can depend on God. And you know, God does hear their complaint we are told the people look toward the wilderness. And the glory of God appeared in the cloud and God said it Twilight usually meet. And in the morning you shall have your fill of bread. And then you shall know that I am the Lord your God. God heard their cries. No Gods rest response was probably not what they were expecting raining quail down on their heads. But God’s response comes in God’s way in God’s time, according to God’s wisdom, including on the sixth day, twice as many quail falling from the sky, so that they can have food to nourish them, and continue to observe God’s appointed day of rest in God’s time.
So what do we do? What do we do when we’re stuck in that muddled place? Uncertain, apprehensive, tired. grumbly not yet seeing what comes on the other side. Our collect for today seems to be a perfect prayer for this time in the life of the larger church, in the life of the parish, and many of our individual lives. Grant us Lord not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly. And even now while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those things that challenger you know, when we talk to the younger children about the seasons of the church, here, we use a set of blocks in various colors that are shaped to be able to form a circle. And there are red blocks and white blocks and purple blocks and green blocks that are placed to represent the seasons of our year together. And even as these things in our lives in our world change even as these earthly things pass away, those white days remain. Jesus still comes into the world resurrection still happens.
The red days return again and again. We continue to be reminded that Jesus willingly went to his death to show us how to live we remember the wind of the Spirit breathing life into the church and setting our hearts on fire. The purple days of preparation and reflection and introspection remain the green days, the days that in our lessons with the children we call the Great Green growing days, we continue to be called into new seasons of growth. These are our anchors, these are the things we cling to even as earthly things pass away. Even as we live in the middle of uncertainty even as we live with the discomfort, of not knowing what comes next. This life together. This is how we remain in relationship with each other and with God.
I have a full heart today. As I say goodbye to all of you and live into the terms of this season with a different community.
Three, three and a half years ago, I arrived here among you over zoom screens for the first period of time you welcomed me you ordained me. And you shepherded me
I am very grateful. And though many of them are downstairs right now, I will say this so that maybe they hear from their grownups or watch online later particularly to the young people.
It has been my honor and my privilege to accompany you. You are a gift as we made apple pies and Advent wreaths together as we race through The MFE on Bibles, scavenger hunts. I’m losing the ability to read my script now. So we may be going off script for a moment. We toasted marshmallows together over the fire on the garden and stayed overnight in the sanctuary during Nightwatch. To wake up to the smell of pancakes in the morning. We walked through sacramental rites together baptism, right 13 confirmation. You shared your experiences and your stories with me and with each other. And you prayed for each other and you cared for each other. You have been a gift. And I hope you know that you are the real teachers. You show all of us what being a Christian community is all about. It’s about joy. It’s about laughter. It’s about freedom, and God to be who we are. And it’s about love for God and for our neighbors and for our friends. So thank you for teaching me and I know that you will continue to teach these lessons to the people who are here now and to new people who will come. So in these days of change of uncertainty of disruption. May we remember the joy and may we also make room for grumbling for crying out. May we be surprised by God’s unexpected response to our prayers. And may we always hold fast to each other and to these things that endure.