Sermon October 11, 2020

There are quite a few tunes for Psalm 23, some more traditional than others.  However, I found the metric version sung to the tune Orlington (John Campbell) very attractive.  Enjoy,
(Note: The Mar Thoma Church is the ancient branch of the Christian faith believed to have been founded by the missionary work of the Apostle Thomas in India.  It is one of the churches in full communion with the Anglican/Episcopal Church.)

What’s for dinner?

Our past not only inform us, but also forms us.  All that we are came from the past.  Our DNA came all the way from the Sixth Day of creation.  In a certain way we were present in our primeval parents, in Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac;  in Deborah, Rahab and Esther, the Blessed Mother, Mary, and Her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and indeed all through our ancestors to our present day.

Memories from childhood, family traditions and beliefs, our moral and social formation, and even all our “baggage,” is our past’s gift to us.  Our spiritual foundation, although not necessarily part of our DNA, also comes from ages past.

From our past we learn about our ancestry – all the good stuff about our fathers – the admirals, successful entrepreneurs, and humble laborers.  And what to say about the admirable mothers, grandmothers and matriarchs of ages past that endured circumstances that today we would not consider suitable or even acceptable?  And yes, even from those who in the past made poor decisions, today we can learn to do better.

So, how we live our life and how we face our present tasks and tests is both formed and informed from our past experiences and legacy.  In other words, our past can be a building block towards our future – or a stumbling block.

If all that we could count on to better our present towards a virtuous and thriving future were to be our own inner resources then I would say, “Good luck!”

Enter God.  It is interesting to note that creation has no past.  Both science and Scriptures tell us that before the universe came into being, there was nothingness.  In other words, there was no past.  And so, from the very beginning we were created to look into the future.

While certainly the past was important – “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” – the point was to direct our vision towards the future.  Not as a way to escape the present, but to hope for and to build up a new future by the hand of God.

Our first lesson, Isaiah 25:1-9, was addressed to people facing uncertainty, affliction, and the social and religious uprooting of exile.  The Gospel, Matthew 22:1-14, is all about preparation for the future, for what would be in the minds of the bride and the groom other than the future?

Our Eucharistic Prayer C, deeply rooted in the Scriptures, says that we betrayed God’s trust, “and we turned against one another.” Yet, again and again, God “called us to return,” or in the word of the New Testament, to “metanoia,” to conversion, to turn around and to change our ways into a new direction.

So, conversion, even though we may have experienced it as a “once-in-a-lifetime” event, is God’s constant calling to redirect our vision away from the past and to look into a future filled with God’s presence.

Perhaps you may have asked for God to heal your memories of past wrongs.  Let me say that one way by which God begins to heal our past is by redirecting all the energy that powers our pains and sorrows into grace and inner peace to empower us into a future of wholeness and joy.  Looking with hope into the future is not for dreaming about “the sweet by and by,” but instead, is formative and trans-formative power for today.

Looking into the past as a way to anchor our faith into God’s everlasting love and mercy is alright, and it is the firm rock to build up a thriving and blessed future.  But we must be aware that we have the knack of turning the past into a golden calf, the shifting sands of a past where God was nowhere to be found.

The invitation still stands, the banquet still is on.  Let me ask you, what’s your plan?  Surely, there are business to take care of, problems to solve, issues to be dealt with, and past experiences to enshrine.  But the King insists, “Will you join me in the Feast?”

Everliving God:  Before creation You called us to live with you and in you, in the glorious presence of your Beloved Son Jesus, the Christ.  Send your Spirit to help us to cast away all fears and to build up a new present empowered by your love, grace, mercy, and joy.  Amen.

Fr. Gustavo,
The Rev. T. G. Mansella, Vicar
St. David’s Church
PO Box 125
11291 West River Road
Aylett, VA 23009-0125
+1 804 496 1002
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