I don’t have a sermon to post from today. I had a micro index card stuffed in my alb pocket to make sure I didn’t forget the names of Sophronia Scott and her son, Tain Gregory. Together, they wrote a book, This Child of Faith, which I hope to pick up from an online megastore locker tomorrow. In the meantime, I watched a brief interview with them, in which Sophronia described the faith of her son as an ark built ahead of the storm, which kept them afloat in the most tempestuous times.
The tempest was the horrific firestorm that killed children and their helpers at Sandy Hook Elementary School five years ago. Tain was a third-grade student. His godbrother, Ben Wheeler, died that day.
The third Sunday of Advent is sometimes named Gaudete Sunday. The rose (pink) candle is lit. The readings reflect the meaning of the Latin imperative, gaudete: Rejoice.
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; give thanks in all circumstances.
In all circumstances? My faithful, funny, profound parishioners shared their stories of the faith that has formed the ark that keeps them afloat in all circumstances; that allows them even to give thanks to God in the raw rub of grief, and the bittersweet pain of new birth.
Their stories are not mine to tell. I wish they were: they were powerful, humble, and transformative.
The only advice I had to offer was that if your ark is strong, and watertight, and you have the opportunity, remember to invite your neighbours aboard. Too many of us are floundering.
And if your boat is a bit leaky, remember that Jesus reached out his hand to Peter and helped him to walk upon the water itself. He does not leave us ever to face the storm alone.
So rejoice always; pray without ceasing; give thanks in all circumstances.