The Gospel: Luke 1:46-55
Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Prayer: Lord, you have promised that when two or three gather in your name you will be present with them. We depend on that promise today and pray that you will move among us. Lord, we pray that have you inspired Mike's preparation, that you will enliven his presentation and that you will empower our application. Amen
The Message: Our Gospel reading, this morning, is from Luke, but we are going to be looking at all three readings tangentially today. Inspired by the work done in Australia, in the Sorry Day campaigns, over the last several years. Work to acknowledge how the actions of one group of people will ultimately impact the lives of other people. The second image which is up on the screen touches on one of the aspects of Australia's Sorry Day.
Today we are experiencing what we hope will become an annual event. Using The Feast Day of Jonathan Myrick Daniels as the focus of our repentance and seeking to say Sorry. We hope we can inspire a deeper understanding here at Christ Church of God's grace to us. Then in response to that grace, we will seek to become more aware of how we have knowingly or unknowingly perpetuated offenses against our brothers and sisters in the world.
As I begin my message this morning I invite you, to turn in your Bulletin, to The Confession, which is printed after the Prayers of Intercession Prayers for Racial Justice, where we would normally pray The Prayers of the People.
Now you will notice this is a different Confession from the one we generally use here at Christ Church. You will also notice that I have asked for the prayer to be broken into three sections. That is not the way the prayer is usually printed in a Bulletin. I wanted us to be able to see the three sections and then concentrate on the center section.
We repent of the evil that enslaves us, the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf.
I believe that most of us understand that "Confession" is a necessary part of our liturgical worship. We all know that we fall short of our own and the Lord's hopes and expectations for us. We accept that we need to ask the Lord to forgive us for "the things we have done and the things we have left undone."
We try to bring our shortcomings before the Lord. We confess that we have done some things we shouldn't have done and then we confess that we may have also not done some things that we should have. In the older language of the church, these are called sins of commission and sins of omission.
Today, the confession that we are using, has the added phrase "the evil done on our behalf." I chose this particular Confession because it contains that phrase, "the evil done on our behalf."
I believe it is difficult enough for most of us to accept that we should ask forgiveness for things that we have done. After all, we really aren't all that bad. We haven't killed anyone or robbed any banks, we haven't done any of those high-rated evil things.
When it comes to asking forgiveness for things that other people have done most of us really struggle. Honestly, it is a struggle to ask forgiveness for things that have been done when we weren't even there. Things that happened that we didn't have a part in.
I have found that what can help in this process is to think about what was done in terms of: "how I have benefited from those actions." But we will have to challenge our thinking and the patterns of our established behavior.
I know that for myself I have to challenge how I process and think about the past. I don't want to be held responsible for the actions of someone else. I can hear the words running through my head: "After all, I didn't take the land from the Native Americans that I live on, why should I have to say sorry?
Well perhaps I need to compare that kind of thinking with what we say as part of the Baptismal Covenant:
Celebrant: Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
People: I will, with God's help.
Celebrant: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
People: I will, with God's help.
We, in our Baptismal Covenant, commit to expressing our love and concern for other people. We seek to respect the dignity of every human being. When we say sorry for what has happened to people in the past we are seeking to acknowledge them, and their existence, as people who deserve our dignity and respect.
There is an effort on our part to seek for the world we live in to be different. We are seeking to learn from the aberrations of the past and seeking to live now and into the future in a healthier way.
The third slide this morning says so well: "Apologies aren't meant to change the past, they are meant to change the future."
I am going to hand the rest of the Sermon time over to Barbara, Cathy, and Sarah and they are going to help with more thoughts and details of what we are seeking to do.
Bishops & Father Mike