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So who or what is the enemy, then? What would you say? Sin inhibits us from realizing our full human potential. And one prime example is when we dehumanize others. We talk about dismantling the structures of racism. Think of Michael’s spear as a dismantling sword. Power systems need to be dismantled as we seek the common good, not only for the human family, but for our very planetary home. Yet, in Revelation, Jesus is the nonviolent Lamb whose victory is marked by suffering love. The Satanic power of violence is cast out of heaven in the cosmic war. It may be angel day at church, but everything points to the cross of Christ and the victory of Easter.
Yes, you are free from the bondage of sin. You are no longer enslaved to the false gods of materialism and accumulation. And that has everything to do with the future of the earth and the growing list of endangered species. Because of divine forgiveness and mercy, you are set free. Set free to take risks for the sake of the gospel. Set free to take risks for the sake of our beloved earth. Set free to take risks for the sake of the most vulnerable among us. Like the Israelites, in baptism you walk through water, from bondage to freedom! Your call is to bring others with you.
Mary is the Mother of all the living. Yet through baptism God calls us to be mothers as well. Everybody gets to be Mary. We are all full of grace. All highly favored. All called to be God-bearers, bringing to birth justice and joy in the world. Whether we have been mothers or not, whatever our gender, whatever complicated relationship we have or had with our mother. And like Mary—at our falling asleep, at our death—God promises to bring us to the glory of our eternal home.
Here’s the ironic thing. Christianity is a materialistic religion. We value the stuff of creation, the stuff of bodies, the stuff of earth. And many of our possessions hold deep memories and connections. Yet, in our day and time, it can seemly nearly impossible to go against the grain and not define ourselves by what we have, what we make, what we do. Jesus warns about being rich in possessions but not rich toward God. Sounds spiritual, but what does “rich toward God” even mean? Maybe simply asking the question is a good start.
“Take a chill pill. Calm down. Relax.” Easier said than done. We seem hard-wired to freak out when anxiety or fear take over. It’s the “fight or flight” response, we’ve been told. Like animals reacting to threats to their safety, it’s natural for us to respond quickly, too. Calm is something we so fiercely desire, but often eludes us. Inner peace. The sense that everything is and will be okay. The assurance that God is with us. Elijah experiences this calm after the storm…the wild man in the gospel reading is restored to his right mind (what does that even mean?) What is this “holy chill?” And how might we be restored and made ready to on with our lives and our various callings?
Holy Trinity is a Pentecost community. Our differences make life interesting and reveal that God loves diversity and is the very source of infinite variety. The Holy Spirit is the energy that unites us and challenges us to not only bang our diversity drum and say what a great church we are because we try to welcome everyone. Rather, we are empowered to move beyond mere acceptance of others to transformation. As we listen and learn from those most different from us—racially, ethnically, religiously, economically, politically—we become more. We discover new ways of thinking, serving, loving. We become transformed by this Spirit of God, this Advocate, the One that abides in us forever.