The “problem” with finishing a sermon on Friday night is that it leaves far too much room for reflection, inspiration, and downright interference by the Holy Spirit.
Here is the version of the sermon I preached Saturday night at St Thomas Episcopal Church, Berea; and I stand by it.
Nevertheless, sometime early on Sunday morning, She nudged me gently and said, “So when was your Jairus moment?” So the first page of the sermon delivered at the Church of the Epiphany, Euclid, Ohio remains the same. Here’s how it changed on the turning of the page:
Elsewhen on Friday, the Supreme Court graced us with the legal means to complete the doing of that which too many have desired too long in vain: to marry, to respect the marriages of others, to respect the dignity of every human family. God bless us, every one! For those who are grieved by Friday’s decision, I am grateful nevertheless that this same grace will still be there for us when we come to need it, for ourselves or for a loved one.
Several years ago, a friend asked me why I took the gay issue, as he called it, so personally, and the answer is simple. A friend whom I love dearly and fiercely came up against religious authorities who rejected his identity and his great capacity for love. And it nearly killed him. We came so close, too, too close, to losing him. That was when it got personal for me. That was my Jairus moment.
And nearly thirty years later … “Finish what you started,” says Paul.
Since dawn yesterday, that flag has come down from in front of the capitol building in South Carolina, thanks be to God and to a woman named Bree. And the Episcopal Church has elected its first African American presiding bishop, Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina; and I couldn’t be happier for us.
And I am delighted to say our own bishop has already authorized clergy of this diocese to solemnize any legal marriage, using any authorized liturgy of the church, adapted for gender as necessary. He also notes that no cleric or congregation is required to offer such services, and so I will be consulting with our vestry to determine how best we will live out our promise of a loving welcome to all of God’s people. My prayer, and my advice, is that we will persevere on the path of justice, of grace, and of love; to finish the work that has begun; for such is our baptismal promise to uphold the dignity of every human being; and such is our call to uphold the dignity of every human family.
Like Jairus, our eyes have been opened to the grace that Jesus offers; and we must keep working to the completion for that which we desired, and not sink back into sleep; for he comes to us and says, “Child, get up,” and takes us by the hand, and offers us food and refreshment, and sends us on our way, to do what we may, knowing that we owe him our very lives, and the lives of all those whom we love.