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15th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A 2020 Alt.

1. Many of you know I listen to podcasts.

2. One Podcast I have come to love is called Poetry Unbound.

a. Narrated by the Irish poet Pádraig Ó’Tuama,

b. its format is deceptively simple.

3. Padraig reads a poem; he comments on it. Then he reads it again. End of story.

4. Except for the fact its not. The end of the story. At least for me.

a. I have listened to some episodes over and over again,

b. I have found myself laughing at some and weeping at others.

5. Which is strange;

a. because for years I have told my teachers and my friends

b. – some of whom are poets,

c. that I don’t like poetry!

i. It does not speak to me, I would say.

6. And then one day Pádraig O’Tuama

a. read Kei Miller’s poem the Book of Genesis.

7. And I realized that my problem was not that words do not affect me;

8. It is that they affect me too much.

a. The words of the poet have the power to make us see and hear things

i. we have been deaf and blind to.

b. Things that we do not want to hear and see

i. but need to.

9. The Book of Genesis by Kei Miller did that to me.

10. And so, I, for the first time in my life as a preacher, am going to read a poem from the pulpit: The book of Genesis by Kei Miller:

11. Suppose there was a book full only of the word, let – from whose clipped sound all things began: fir and firmament, feather, the first whale — and suppose we could scroll through its pages every day to find and pronounce a Let meant only for us — we would stumble through the streets with open books, eyes crossed from too much reading; we would speak in auto-rhyme, the world would echo itself — and still we’d continue in rounds, saying let and let and let until even silent dreams had been allowed.”

12. In his commentary Pádraig notes the audacity

a. of distilling the entire book of Genesis to a single word; LET.

i. God letting the world come to be;

ii. letting our lives come to be;

iii. letting everything grow and develop and flourish;

1. all of it from the power of that one word.

2. Spoken at creation and spoken to us every day.

13. Have you ever heard a word that had such power? I know I have.

a. The “yes” to the question, do you love me?

b. The “Congratulations” received with a handshake when we are hired.

c. The “I do” we hear on our wedding day.

d. The “Cured” the oncologist writes to us concerning our diagnosis.

14. At that moment such words are more than words

15. They are stones dropped into a lake sending out ripples that disturb the water.

16. they are earthquakes which transform the landscape beyond recognition.

17. they are the drop of water which fills our cup to overflowing.

18. they are floods which wash everything away.

19. The words may not be positive;

a. They could be “it’s terminal” from the oncologist

b. “I can’t” from our fiancé

c. “we’re sorry we’ve decided to go another way” from that job interview,

d. “No” to our deepest desire.

20. But even these words change our lives.

a. They open our ears and open our eyes to new possibilities;

b. if only we have the ears to hear them and the eyes to see their effects.

21. Jesus knew the power of such words.

22. in fact, he speaks of that power in today’s Gospel.

a. Jesus’ disciples ask him a question about a story he has just told.

b. A story about a famer who goes out and spreads his seed with wild abandon;

i. some lands on the path,

ii. others among the rocks,

iii. some in thorns

iv. and some in rich earth which yields incredible harvests.

23. For the disciples listening to it,

a. That farmer was an idiot,

i. for seed was precious; and to be so generous with it,

1. with little chance of much of it even taking root,

2. let alone bear fruit, is incredibly wasteful.

24. However, for Jesus who first proclaimed it,

a. that farmer was God,

b. who shared the gracious miracle of God’s own love with everyone

i. And not just the ones we - or anyone else - judge worthy of receiving it.

25. Thus the disciples ask the question;

a. if God is so generous with us,

b. If God’s words of life shower down on us

i. like seeds from the hand of this crazy farmer,

c. if these words are so powerful,

i. why speak in parables?

26. Jesus’ answer to this question is at first as confusing as the story itself;

a. I speak in parables he says, because his hearers

i. “look but do not see, hear but do not listen or understand”.

27. It sounds like he is hiding something;

a. but actually the opposite is true;

28. He wants them – and us – to see and hear something.

a. Or better still, someone.

29. For the point of the parable

a. is that they had met that farmer’s crazy generosity before – in Jesus

b. Again and again in the Gospels they – and we - hear and see Jesus teaching, feeding, healing and even raising from the dead.

c. Jesus’ life was, is God’s word spoken to us

d. made flesh in his generous love for everyone,

i. Jew and gentile, male and female, slave and free.

30. And if we are that stony ground and our lives are the ones choked with thorns,

a. then isn’t that we are evil or sinful

i. like some might infer from the parable, or Matthew’s interpretation of it.

b. it isn’t that the word spoken in Jesus does not affect us;

i. Like I thought the word spoken in poetry did not affect me

c. it is simply because like parables or poetry

i. it affects us too much

ii. it challenges our control

iii. and opens us up to the possibility

1. that that word of God’s generous love spoken to us by Jesus

2. might just changes our lives.

a. When we let it.

b. When we let it in;

c. when we let it speak to us

i. and recognize we met it before. – where?

d. In the “yes” to the question, do you love me?

e. The “Congratulations” received when we start our career.

f. In the “I do” we hear on our wedding day.

g. The “Cured” the oncologist writes across our diagnosis.

31. So many people read Bible stories

a. filled with Angels and visions,

b. predictions and prophecies

c. and conclude that since God no longer speaks that way

i. God no longer speaks.

32. But what if God is speaking to us all the time

a. But his Words are like parables and poetry?

33. What if all those Bible stories

a. are not meant to explain HOW that Word is spoken to us –

b. But to help us identify WHERE it is spoken in our lives,

c. and WHAT that word is for us?

34. Back in 1986, I was studying in Germany and my cousin Richard came to visit.

35. I was wrestling with whether I should leave the Lutheran Church and become a Catholic.

a. I did not want to hurt my parents,

b. disappoint my friends,

c. ruin my life.

36. I did not know what to do.

37. I needed guidance;

38. I needed an answer

a. and God wasn’t talking. Or so I thought.

39. The night before Richard left, he said,

a. “look why don’t you just say yes?

b. Say to God ‘I am done fighting.

c. Whatever you want Let it be done unto me according to your will – just like Mary said’.”

40. I did not think much more about it;

a. until over the following weeks and months,

b. Every time I would start to worry,

c. every time I would start to fear

d. every time I thought I had to be in control of my life

i. because God did not seem to be

e. I would just say yes and yes and yes.

41. 18 months later, 32 years ago this coming Thursday, I was received into the Church.

42. And everything in my life since has grown from that single word.

a. that word was God’s word and like the word Let in Kei Miller’s poem it was meant for me.

b. Jesus’ word today to us today is that that God is still talking.

c. And there is a word meant just for me – just for you.

d. They might be different words

e. But imagine if underneath them all was that one word;

f. Yes.

g. And imagine if we said it to ourselves

h. Every time we start to worry,

i. every time we start to fear

j. every time we think we have to somehow have to take i control

i. because in this crazy violent unjust broken plague-filled God did not seem to be

k. we would just say yes and yes and yes.

l. I do not know what would happen; maybe nothing to the world;

m. but something would begin to happen with us

n. we would learn to let go of our worry, let go of our fear.

o. And maybe in that word

p. we would hear God’s word spoken to us in all the others words we hear.

q. Until one day even OUR silent dreams are allowed.

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