Sunday Sermons

Check out out Fr. Mike’s written sermon below….

Sermon: Quantum Paradigms

the Rev. Mike Wernick                                                                                                                                    November 20, 2022

Year A

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Psalm 46

Colossians 1:11-20

Luke 23:33-43

May the words of my mouth O God…  speak your truth…

How odd it is…  to have a reading that evokes images of Good Friday…  during Advent…  how counterintuitive it seems…  to mash-up Christ the King with Christ the Crucified…  how unlike the excess of monarchy…  is the poverty of Jesus on the cross…  as of this year…  there are still 43 sovereign states in the world…  with a supreme ruler or monarch as head of government… thirteen in Asia…  twelve in Europe (which includes the House of Windsor)…  nine in the Americas…  six in Oceania…  and three in Africa…  rulers who wield varying degrees of benevolence or authoritarianism…

The Revolutionary War was fought…  our country sought to free itself from England for many reasons…  but among the most prominent…  was the idea that those who lived more than thirty-five hundred miles away could not know…  could not adequately and justly represent the needs and concerns of their subjects…  but even after the Revolutionary War…  in the earliest years of our country…  our democratic experiment was only for white men who owned land…  that is…  who had money…  but as democracy has matured and evolved…  our self-governing experiment has come to increasingly mean that all sorts…  and all conditions of people have…  or ought to have a chance to participate in their government…

And as we think about our reading from Jeremiah…  let’s remember that shepherds were lowly outcasts… they had dirty jobs caring for animals who didn’t have much sense…  sheep left on their own will scatter and get lost…  sheep eat with their heads down just moving along… oblivious to where they are… just walking and eating… walking and eating… and they may not even realize that they’re lost and alone… that’s why the shepherd does what’s needed…  to direct them from behind…

Earthly kings lead in much the same way… often pushing people with their power and authority…  and remember… God really didn’t want the Israelites to have a King… in 1Samuel 8… God warned the people about the abuses of power and corruption… and how the day would come when they’d cry out to God because of the king who they themselves have chosen…  but they really insisted… and God relented… and gave them a king…  and when Saul proved to be corrupt… God directed Samuel to go to Jesse’s house… and God chose David as king… a lowly shepherd… shepherds and kings…  and in this reading from Jeremiah…  written during the fall of Jerusalem… the leaders have endangered their sheep with such reckless shepherding that they are scattered…  Babylon has taken advantage of dis-integrated leadership…  but the passage promises that God will gather them back in… raise up a shepherd so that none shall fear… or be dismayed… or be lost any more…

in the Lord’s Prayer… we pray that God’s Kingdom come… on Earth as it is in Heaven… this isn’t about establishing earthly values in Heaven… but about establishing Heavenly values on earth…  in his rejection of the divisions in the world… Jesus embodies a different set of values…  values to which we’re attracted whenever people in positions of power exhibit them…  people like Pope Francis… Princess Diana… Archbishop Óscar Romero… and Dietrich Bonhoeffer…  and what makes these people attractive is that they don’t behave how the world would expect them to…  they reject the power and privilege that could easily shield them from the messiness of life…  they don’t use their positions to keep themselves raised up… they don’t lord their authority over others… they identify with those in need and invite relationship…

Pope Pius XI instituted today’s feast day in December 1925…  and this is why…  in the aftermath of WWI…  which ended in 1918…  nationalist sentiments were increasing throughout the world…  Mussolini became the fascist head of the Italian Republic and was actively trying to win over Italy’s Roman Catholic majority through several religious appeasements…  in July 1925…  Adolf Hitler published the first volume of his manifesto…  Mein Kampf…  that next month…  in August…  approximately 40,000 members of the KKK marched on Washington, DC…  and with a membership of nearly 5 million…  it was believed to be the largest fraternal organization in the US at that time…  two months later…  in October 1925…  the seven agreements of the Locarno Treaties divided Europe into eastern and western sections…  and Pope Pius felt compelled to respond to the trend of this unhealthy global nationalism…  and by establishing this feast day…  he called on the church to declare Christ’s Kingship over all of creation…  it’s what a seven-week Advent is intended to remind us of… 

And so what the Romans didn’t realize when they put that inscription over Jesus which read…  This is the king of the Jews…  what they didn’t realize was that they were only partly right…  because Jesus’ way of being…  the Mind of Christ out of which Jesus functioned…  transcended anything that was particularly Jewish…  in other words…  in a realization comparable to Pope Pius’ centuries later…  the people could proclaim that power belonged not to Nebuchadnezzar…  or Cyrus…  or Caesar…  or Herod…  any other king or emperor…  but to God alone… and so to call Jesus not only a king…  but THE King…  was to undo Rome’s position…  and the hold its Empire and religious establishment…  had in anyone’s life then… and our lives now…

And you know…  so much of difficulty we have getting our heads around Christ’s Kingship…  so much of why it’s all so illogical and irrational…  so much of why it’s mystery…  is because so much of it is paradox…  it’s because it’s an upside down way of functioning and forming expectations…  it’s about giving ourselves away and having more left over…  it’s about acknowledging our brokenness and becoming more whole…  it’s about being healed even when we’re not cured…  it’s about choosing to function with a perspective of abundant blessing instead of one of scarcity…  it’s about how when we forgive others we experience more of the forgiveness we already own…

It’s almost as if the Roman Empire and the kingdoms of the world are like the realm of classical physics…  that branch of science which uses force and action to explain the fundamentals of motion and energy…  with predictable but limited possibilities and options related to cause and effect…  and which understands time to be fixed and space to be uniform throughout…  which sees limits instead of possibilities…

However…  Colossians says…  that…  in him all things in heaven and on earth were created…  things visible and invisible…  and…  in him all things hold together…  then it is within this reality…  and as Matthew 19:26 says that…  for God all things are possible…  it is within the spiritual depths of quantum physics…  that the passage of time is relative…  and space is curved…  where giant molecules are capable of being in two places at the same time…  where light can simultaneously be both a particle and a wave…  and where the solutions for the conflicts and limitations we face…  can arise through a new paradigm…

Author Brian McLaren asks…  what would it mean if we just happen to be living…  when a new humanity is in the painful…  but fragile process of being born…  and what if the growth of this new humanity…  the new social creation [ to which Jesus referred over and over again ] depends on the old one losing its dominance…

As I write these words…  he writes…  I can’t help but feel a flood of resonances with the Hebrew Scriptures…  echoes of Isaiah…  speaking of God doing a new thing…  of something fresh springing forth…  so that there will be good news for the poor…  recovery of sight for the blind…  and freedom for the incarcerated and oppressed…  I hear the prophet imagining a promised time when weapons are recycled into farm equipment because nobody studies war any more…  I hear Ezekiel’s oracle about a new heart…  a heart of flesh that replaces the heart of stone…  I hear Amos envisioning a time when a river of justice rolls down from the heights…  filling the lowest places first…  I hear Micah relativizing everything in his religion except doing justice…  loving kindness…  and walking humbly before God…

Whatever this new emerging meta-movement is…  it is bigger than any single religion…  in fact…  it is bigger than religion as a whole…  it issues an invitation to all religions…  all economies…  all educational and political systems…  all arts and trades…  all sciences and technologies…  everything…  it is…  we might say…  a spiritual movement that encompasses everything…  it is God’s will into which we are being invited…  kind of like the field of all possibilities…  kind of like the Kingdom of Christ… 

 

Let us pray…  Holy God…  guide us to perceive what is right…  and grant us both the courage to pursue it…  and the grace to accomplish it…  through Jesus Christ, our Lord…  Amen…