Sermon – January 11, 2015
The Rev. Rebecca S. Myers, CSW
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Corbin, KY
And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.11And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ Mark 1:10-11
Please Be Seated
Yesterday, my son, Scot, turned 40! Where did the time go? Naturally, at this time, I recall the day he was born and many other memories over the years. His son, Logan, is so much like him that I often call him Scot instead of Logan! It’s like I’m seeing my son grow up all over again, sort of.
But even in remembering, there’s so much we forget. I don’t think too many, if any, of us remember the day we were born. As adults, we talk about how traumatic it must be for a child to be born after nine months in a comfortable place with all of their needs met. We make jokes about how a baby cries when it’s born. Of course it’s important for a baby to cry at birth as a sign their lungs are cleared out and working well, but it seems to resonate with the trauma of being born into the world. But none of us remembers that trauma, at least not overtly.
Sinead O’Connor in her recording from 1995, had a song that suggested babies are also born in spiritual trauma. The words are:
All babies are born saying God’s name
Over and over,
All born singing God’s name
All babies are flown from the Universe
From there they’re lifted by the hands of angels
God gives them the stars to use as ladders
She hears their calls
She is mother and father
All babies are born out of great pain
Over and over
All born into great pain
All babies are crying
For no-one remembers God’s name
All Babies, Sinead O’Connor
“All babies are crying for no one remembers God’s name.” It’s like when we’re born, a process of forgetting God ensues. We’re born into a world that values what we can see with our eyes and touch with our hands or physical selves over what we can see with our hearts and touch with our spirits. A world that discounts intuition and a sixth sense. A world that in many places and in many ways is uncomfortable with, even afraid of, mystery and of unknowing.
We are born into this world with strong connections to God and our own spirits. We don’t have a way to communicate with words for awhile, so we are very connected to our bodies and to what we experience in them. But, it seems like as we grow older, we’re taught to ignore our bodies and hearts in favor of passing the standardized math and reading tests. We forget how to read ourselves and each other.
Many times, we begin to accept this “vain” world’s assessment of us. We’re not pretty. We’re not smart. We think funny. We dress funny. We don’t make enough money. We aren’t good enough. We forget that God created our diversity and that the norm is diversity rather than conformity.
That’s why renewing our baptismal vows is important. Those of us baptized as children may only have a photograph of the event, but in a very real sense, that baptism was telling our spirits to remember where we came from…to remember God’s name. As we got older and once again surrendered to the world’s assessment of us, renewing our baptismal vows reminds us that in the waters of baptism, we died to the world’s view of us and were returned or reborn to God’s view of us.
And God’s view of us is that we were perfectly created. No, we are not God. We are not perfect in that we know everything or can do everything or see everything. We are perfect in the part of the body of Christ that we are. We are perfect in our humanity. We don’t have every talent, but we have talent…talent necessary for the world. We don’t possess all knowledge, but we possess knowledge that is necessary for the world. We don’t have all intelligence, but we have intelligence that is necessary for the world. We don’t have all understanding of God, but we have understanding of God that is necessary for the world.
When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, the heavens were torn apart, so the Holy Spirit could break in and the voice of God could confirm that Jesus was a child of God, beloved of God and that God was pleased.
And we need those same reminders. When we renew our baptismal vows…when we feel the water sprinkled on us, God is breaking through to us…recalling to us what we knew when we were born…reminding us of God’s name. God is reminding us that the Holy Spirit is right with us. God is reminding us that we are beloved children and that God is well pleased with us. Then we are prepared to go into the world in peace to love and to serve God.