Sermon – February 18, 2015
The Rev. Rebecca S. Myers, CSW
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Corbin, KY
Yet even now, says the LORD,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
rend your hearts and not your clothing. Joel 2:12-13
Please be seated.
On Monday night, I just happened to watch the Grammy Tribute to Stevie Wonder. Different artists performed Mr. Wonder’s Works. The concert was so wonderful, especially since much of the music of Mr. Wonder is familiar to me. And the people in the audience were on their feet most of the time. They were stars and celebrities, dancing and moving to the music. I could feel the happy party in my living room. It’s just one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time.
Yet, even more than the music, was Mr. Wonder’s closing remarks:
“I can’t leave this stage, this building, this planet without letting you know how much I thank you. I love you. I don’t have to know you. I may not have ever met you or ever meet you. But I want you to know that I love you. I love you first of all because the God that I serve says that we should love everyone. I also love you because it feels better to love than to hate and I believe that if we can just come together, because we must come together, because, I mean, we are at spiritual warfare and we must without question let the world know that love is king and queen. . . . I believe that if we come together, as it is said, when 2 or more believe, then almighty God is between it, Let us come together. Let us fool everyone who thinks it’s impossible. Let’s make the impossible so very possible by loving. Love is the key ….” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxDrJ-tyHpE
Love is the key.
So what does that have to do with Ash Wednesday…. A day when we begin our season of penitence…of taking a good look at ourselves?
Because, during this time, we are asked to repent. To repent means to turna round…to change our ways. In our Lesson, Joel, the prophet says that God wants us to return with all of our heart…God wants us to acknowledge how our behavior has been so harmful to the world, so harmful, that our acknowledge makes us weep and mourn and fast. Tearing our clothing as a sign of repentance will not be enough….we must feel the depth of turning away from God Deep within our heart…we must know how our turning away from God, tears our hearts apart.
Yes, there are many ways we turn away from God. One way is our failure to love. We’d rather hate than love.
We also believe that truly loving everyone is impossible. We look at our world. Even here in Corbin last week where a 16-year-old child killed most of his family and endangered the lives of others. Or the many killings by ISIS/ISIL, most recently in Egypt. There is so much evil out there, and we become cynical, skeptical and unbelieving about the power of love.
Yes, we know God wants us to love one another – to love our neighbors as ourselves. But don’t we pay it lip service? Don’t we think it’s a huge fantasy and not even possible? Haven’t we turned away from God in this regard? And in doing so, we have harmed the world and we have harmed each other. We have given more power to hate than to love!
So, during this Holy Lent, return to God. Don’t doubt, but believe. Weep and mourn and fast because we have given in to the world and given in to the power of hatred rather than the power of love.
Think about what you can do to be more loving…what you can do to not let the hatred of the world overpower the love God calls us to. Let’s strive to be like Stevie Wonder who told us the other night…. “I love you. I don’t have to know you. I may not have ever met you or ever meet you. But I want you to know that I love you.” Let’s believe deeply in our hearts that “Love is the key.”