St. James Black Mountain
In 1900 the German poet, Ranier Maria Rilke, wrote these lines:
"I’m living just as the century ends.
A great leaf, that God and you and I
Have covered in writing
Turns now, overhead, in strange hands
We feel the sweep of it like a wind.
We see the brightness of a new page
Where everything yet can happen
Unmoved by us, the fates take its measure
And look at one another, saying nothing."
We sit here today just as another year is ending and like the poet
We feel caught between these two forces.
On the one hand, we feel as if there are the forces outside us
that the poet calls “the fates” and they are unmoved by us—
“The world is what it is” we say
And our world gets smaller.
In the last year, I looked at less news on television
and I read fewer newspapers
and I have less conversation about politics.
In part it’s because our political conversations are so toxic
that we go from zero to a hundred in a second
And in part it’s because I find myself too often in the suburbs of despair
Things are what they are—I say.
Do I really think I can change Washington?
And it’s not just me.
According the National Center for Health Statistics, for the first time since 1963,
Life expectancy in the U.S. has fallen for two years in a row.
Anne Case, an economist at Princeton, says
this is a sign of “frustration and hopelessness…
People don’t have the… hope for the future that they might have had in the past.”
Let us remember that to despair is to be unfaithful
Because despair or hopelessness limits what is possible.
We think only of what we can do
instead of remembering what God has promised God will do.
Remember what we just heard in the gospel?
“But to all who receive him, who believed in his name
He gave power to become children of God”
Our sacred story is about the Word becoming Flesh and dwelling among us and in us
We do not come to this place merely to hear about great deeds long ago
As only historians.
We come here to eat the bread and drink the wine to be remembered to God
So that God is in us—so that God gives us the gift of hope
So that God will send us into the world to be agents of the Good News
To know that 2018 is a new page where everything yet can happen.
In these 12 days of Christmas, let us not dream of the Christmases we used to know
Let us dream of the world God intends for all God’s children.
A world where every person has what he or she needs to flourish—
Good schools, clean water, medical care, free from addictions and crime
No racism—no fear about anyone one.
And an end to division—to mistrust—
to suspicion about someone else’s motives simply because they voted differently.
There is room at the stable with the new born Christ for everyone.
The bright page of history turned with the birth of Jesus
Because God is not above us – removed and detached
But here—now---inside us and all around us
Beckoning us to partner with the divine to turn the page
where everything yet can happen.