SERMON OF RT. REV. KATHARINE SCHORI
June 21, 2006
Last Sunday morning, I woke very early but it was still dark. I must have been thinking about something. I wanted to go for a run, but had to wait for enough light to see. Ran by back of Hyatt. The men working by the dumpster were startled.
I saw a man from convention center and we said a quiet good morning. Then I found a quiet green park in the middle of this city. There was a man standing there, in an orange reflective vest standing by orange cones. I said good morning; he responded in kind. Then there was the bleary-eyed fellow with several bags. Said good morning to him, too but when past him on street, not the sidewalk.
A rabbit was hopping along the sidewalk. It looked at me and we shared a moment of greeting. A woman delivering Sunday papers, getting out of the car and delivering the paper to doorsteps. She didn’t get out of the car until I was well past her.
On the other side of the freeway, I found two guys, just going to work. They, too, looked weary.
There was some degree of weariness in all of them. Trying to greet each other, but the sense of relationship, whether out of fear, or caution, meant that we had a long way to go.
Can we dream of a world where all creatures, human and not, can greet each other without fear? Christ said his kingdom was “not of this world.” His willingness to go to the cross is so radical that fear has no import. The love that he invites us to imitate has no possibility of reactive or violent response. His followers didn’t fight back.
He calls us friends not agents of fear.
If we are going to grow to full statute of Christ, our growing will need to be rooted in a soil of internal peace, confidant and planted in the overwhelming love of God. Given so abundant, so profligate, that we are caught in similar abandonment. The full measure of God, cast down and overflowing, drives out our , self-interest. That is what fear is. A reaction; an unconscious response. As if we are saying, “that’s mine and I can’t go on living without it.”
Whether its my bank account or my sense of control. Unless we can make sense of the blood of the cross, we will live in fear. That bloody cross brings new life into the world. That sweaty, bloody, tear-stained cross bears life. Our mother Jesus gives new birth to a new creation and we are his children.
We have to give up fear. What did the godly messengers say when they turned up to the shepherds: fear not. You are God’s beloved and he is well pleased with you. When we know ourselves beloved of God, we can respond in less fearful ways. When we realize this, we can response to the homeless man; seek and reach beyond the defenses of others.
Our job as we go out from this convention is to go out without fear and lay down our sword and shield; fill the hungry and set the prisoners free. Lay down our self-control and serve God’s image of the beloved in the weakest, poorest and least included. Not to squabble over our heritage.
But to share that name of the beloved with the whole world. AMEN
I did not hear this sermon when it was delivered, and I came to it now hoping I missed out on some contextual point that might make the reference to 'mother Jesus' palatable. Seeing the context now, I must admit to confusion. That paragraph has some superficially strong cross language -- but the more I contemplate it, the more it looks like a deliberate connection of the cross with childbirth -- bloody, sweaty, tear-stained, etc. She's bypassing the redemptive virtue in Christ's blood and calling it creative instead?
So the next question to be asked, regardless of the orthodoxy of her reinterpretation, is, Why would +Jefferts Schori say this, particularly at this moment to this audience (Gen. Convention the day after her election)? Why would she only mention Jesus once, and that in the context of a radically feminist re-interpretation of the merit of the crucifixion? I can only surmise that she put it here because she's honest, and this is her own theology which she wanted to share with everyone, letting them know who she is and what she believes. +Jefferts Schori has shown herself to be not un-mindful of political dynamics in the church -- is she speaking here directly to the orthodox (who, incedentally, were mostly attending the alternative mass down the street), saying we should not fear her or the future -- if so, why throw in this obviously challenging re-imaging? Was she speaking to the progressives, telling them they need not fear -- what, winning? ostricization by the Communion? Maybe the collective wisdom of Whitehall's readers can unravel this mystery.