Matthew 3:1-12 and an excerpt from Making Peace by Denise Levertov
Sunday December 4th, 2022
By Rev. Nicole M. Lamarche
Welcome everyone again on this second Sunday of Advent as we find ourselves in the final weeks and days of this year. I can’t believe it. I feel truly grateful to be here with you like this and I often think of people like Jo and Elaine and Tom and others who worship from a distance, to bring them in the room otherwise this feels all too weird sometimes, so I am trying to find the wonderful.
So welcome however you are worshiping, from whatever places you are coming today, with whatever emotions, prayers and thoughts you are bringing into the room. So let us take some deep breaths now, to allow ourselves to arrive a bit more fully, breathing in peace, breathing out stress, breathing in hope, breathing out worry.
And join me as you are moved, in this preacher’s prayer from Psalm 19.
Gracious God, let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, our Rock, and our Redeemer Amen.
“A voice from the dark called out,
‘The poets must give us
imagination of peace”
These words from the poet Denise Levertov summoned me in this season of Advent, in these weeks of waiting, on this Sunday of peace, as we pray and love our way forward together in a world of war, and of wounded hearts.
A voice from the deep calls out, a voice from history, from our ancestors, from our saints, from the Spirit of Life, from the Cosmos, that asks us to be able to imagine what is not yet. In spite of what we are told or sold, I believe that as people of faith, we must not give up on creating energy fields of peace. Maybe that sounds kind of woo- woo or a little new age-like, but what I mean is that part of how we get to world peace is not giving up on being peacemakers with each other. Are you with me? Peacemakers in our households and workplaces, with our words, even in this time of extremely evolved weaponry and evolved ways of causing harm, I really do believe that we have the power to create something like pockets of peace among us.
Wherever we find ourselves, in our households, in our workplaces, I believe we can prepare the way of the Lord. And I have been wondering what it would look like to take that literally? This might be challenging in our context? What would that look like to take responsibility to prepare the way of the Lord? As if it is our job to help love bust in. What would that look like for us? I believe that right now being able to imagine what is not yet is desperately needed, being able to model and make a way for peace, being able to live and love and pray and say a new way into being.
Many of the voices I hear and read and absorb around me say that things are terrible and that there is little we can do. Have you heard those voices too? And I love that we get to come here each week and remember that’s not who we are. I don’t want us to get caught in that. We can grieve where we need to or be angry. But what if it’s part of our call as people of faith to constantly be shifting the field around us? To be the ones leading the way? What if each of us being peace and inviting those around us to step up and in, inviting the possibility that even our interactions right here are part of living God’s dream? What if that allows more of us to claim our power, not just of what we believe, but of how we believe comes to life with our words and our actions?
It is easy and I see this in Boulder, lots of bumper stickers about peace, but the far more important and much harder action is to have the courage to claim how much power we have to be peace. Maybe you see sometimes those with peace bumper stickers are the ragiest drivers!
I think it is time that we claim this power more fully, not just to be peacemakers but to add peace into all of the wars that are raging. Because some of them are raging because of our words.
Maybe we don’t want to admit that- to claim how much power we have, but I want you to know that our words have so much power. Early last month the Denver Archdiocese released updated instruction for all of its Catholic Schools demanding that they not re-enroll transgender or gender non-conforming students and to treat gender non-conforming parents differently than heterosexual parents. The document was entitled “Guidance for Issues Concerning the Human Person and Sexual Identity.” Many of us were deeply troubled by this and Mardi Moore, the Executive Director of Out Boulder County, put out a video strongly condemning this guidance saying it not only divides community, but that it was dangerous rhetoric. Just weeks later, the massacre at Club Q.
As John Pavlovitz wrote, “The mass shooting at a Colorado Springs nightclub on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance that killed five people and left dozens clinging to life or permanently disfigured and traumatized, is not a surprise… it is entirely predictable. In the wake of the murders at Club Q,… politicians have lined up to once feign disbelief and pretend to care and to dole out phony expressions of abject shock and solidarity—but the truth is, this is what they have made with great intention and care over time. Violence targeting the LGBTQ community is not a random aberration they are trying to make sense of, it is more like a…campaign promise fulfilled. When you continually label queer people as predators, when you repeatedly accuse teachers of being groomers, when you declare drag shows and gay clubs as societal threats, when you intentionally target transgender children and their parents” this is what happens. And he goes on to say that they might begin as reckless words, but “eventually they become young men carrying high-powered weapons of rapid carnage…”
While there are many wars raging, some of them, I believe, are raging because of the power of our words, the power of our words to literally speak possibilities into being, good ones and bad ones. And so what if there is an untapped power in us because we have failed to see the power in our words? What power might we have, what could we speak into being with our words of peace and love and hope?
What if words can quite literally create worlds? As we are seeing…
New realms of possibility that somehow weren’t there before. As the poet tells us, “A cadence of peace might balance its weight on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence, an energy field more intense than war,”
That voice from the deep, I believe, calls to each of us and invites us to claim the power of our words to build worlds, whether they be of hate or of hope. What if there really is a cadence of words and commitments and expressions that could balance the weight of the wounds of this world? Let us claim the power we have to make worlds with our words, to create an energy field here of peace that ripples out beyond. We can quite literally prepare the way of the Lord, right here, right now.
May it be so. Amen.
©Rev. Nicole M. Lamarche