Sermon – March 22, 2020

John 9:1-8/ Psalm 23

Grateful Despites Meditation

Sitting up nice and tall, soften your jaw, let your breath get nice and easy.

-Notice the chair underneath your bottom and the floor underneath your feet. Trust that they are both holding you up and you don’t need to hold yourself up.

Starting that practice of pratyahara; turning your attention and your senses inward. Allowing for more darkness and quiet, more subtle shifts.

-Start to peel through the layers of you that relate to everyone and everything else. Like you take off your hat and your coat, peel through the layer of you that relates to your family, friends, work and places of responsibility, until you’re left with you relating to you, right here and now.

– From that space, dip your toes into that well of gratitude for all that makes it possible for you to be here, in the midst of everything.  Gratitude for your physical health; despite aches, pains, and frustrations with your body, you are healthy and strong enough today to show up.  

– Turn your hands over, palm face up, on your lap. …..Gratitude for your mental health; despite anxiety, stress, and conflict in your life, you were able to make the decision to be here and follow through on that decision.  

– Aim your heart out and up just a little. …Gratitude for any sense of spiritual health; that despite some really hard days, maybe grief and depression, loneliness and fear; there was somehow enough levity, momentum, enough hope and confidence in this practice and in this community to pull yourself off the couch, away from whatever else you were doing, and show up.  

– With all that hope and resilience that is strong in you, send out some love, hope, and courage to the people and places, and all the situations struggling for such health today; even and especially if you feel like one of them.

I think these few verses might be part of the essential reading for our week ahead. 

This time From The Message; 

You’re asking the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what GOD can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s light.

Do you hear what Jesus is calling us to be about right now? I hear Jesus saying – stop all the bickering and yammering about how it started, who is to blame, and what someone else did wrong. I hear Jesus shaking his holy head at us with so much frustration. You’re asking the wrong questions entirely. You are missing the point.

Your job is to do God’s work of bringing more love and more light.

Your job is to speak words and take actions of love, forgiveness, gratitude, and joy.

All this blaming, bickering, and stupid questions – Not Your Job. Do your job.

Don’t waste your time and energy on such matters – because we need your time and energy!

And today I want you to hear me – now is the time for focusing on what is essential. The governor has asked us to stay home and only do ESSENTIAL travel outside the home. Only essential workers are out there and the rest of us have to stay home so that we do not spread germs to all the essential workers.

I hope we, as communities of faith remember what is essential for us. The church buildings are closed but the church has been cracked wide open. We are called to be the church in the world, more than ever. What is essential right now is for the church – us – to be about the work of community, love, grace, and joy in this brand new and ever evolving time. Right now the church – us – need to remember what is our ESSENTIAL work.

Remember when jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment?

He said Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.

If that is the most important commandment – let’s assume that this is the commandment from God for this incredible time. 

Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. That Is our essential work right now. 

The rest is logistics. Right now the logistics of being community are complicated, exhausting, new, and everything feels urgent. Remember that we are all so far out of our comfort zones. We are all trying to figure this out – together.

So, I made a small sign to help remind us all of essentials of being in relationship with each other. I recommend making a similar sign for yourself. 

Divide your paper into 4 sections. In one section write; Thank you. Then I am Sorry. Then I love You. Then I forgive you.

When you don’t know what to say and are tempted to say something non-essential, distracting, or hurtful – consult this sign. 

How about start with;Thank You. Or I’m Sorry. Or maybe I love you. Or even try, I forgive you. Then take a bigger than normal breath in and out through your nose. And then start to talk, okay?

The 23rd Psalm is, honest to goodness, the appointed psalm of the day. I want to remind that this psalm was not specifically written for funerals, despite so many people reading it at funerals. But, take comfort in the words of the psalm 23  — words of faith and love in the midst of struggle, fear, and temptation – NOT after it’s all over and done with and God has rescued us out of it. Psalm 23 is written despite all the anxiety, grief, and unknowing.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me. 

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the lord forever.

Closing Meditation.

Soften the bottom of your feet and the space between your toes. Maybe even feel some weight on the top of your feet. Release your ankles and maybe get a sense of the pull of gravity down your shin bones. Soften the back of your knees and let your thighs rest heavy on the chair. Still sitting up nice and tall, let your hips sink down. Soften your lower back and release your belly. Let the softness rise up your spine, softening between your shoulder blades. Letting your shoulders get heavy and maybe feeling a sweet weight come across your chest; like the weight of a heavy quilt, feeling yourself tucked in, safe and secure, right here and now. Let your arms rest heavy on your lap. Turn your hands over palm face up. Release your wrists. Feel that gentle weight of gravity in the palm of your hands and let your fingers curl up and float.

Practice letting go here.  Let go of the conversations and misunderstandings, the decisions and the unanswered questions.  Practice loosening your grip on all that is beyond your control. Letting go of the work that is not yours to do, so that you can be about the work that is yours to do.

Soften the muscles of your neck that reach across your back and chest. Soften your jaw and chin, release your cheeks and your lips. Soften your eyebrows, your forehead, even the very crown of your head; trusting that all this new and renewed energy and strength, all of this effort and ease is inside of you, as it has always been.

Take a deeper inhale and exhale here, reconnecting with that gratitude for all that makes it possible for you to be here, gratitude for the day ahead. Take a moment to notice how things might have shifted or changed during this practice, in your body, mind, maybe even in your spirit.  Remember that there is always more happening than we could ever know or perceive. Trust that there will be shifts to come.