May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts create worthy ripples throughout the waters of our Baptism… In the name of Jesus we pray… Amen
First of all, I want to wish all the fathers in the room a Happy Father’s Day.
Even though this is not the first Father’s Day that I will get to spend with my own daughter, it is the first Father’s Day in which I received a Father’s Day card from her that she helped make with her teachers at daycare. On this card it says, “Daddy you are as smart as Ironman, as strong as Hulk, as fast as Superman, as brave as Capt. America. You are my favorite superhero!”
I wish any of that was true… but absolutely I love it!
Even though Elizabeth doesn’t know it yet, and her teachers at school didn’t know it, but that is the best card she could’ve possibly given me. Because I am a huge fan of the superhero genre. As a kid, I collected all kinds of comic books; still have some in fact. I have kept a select few over the years such as my 1968 issue number one Silver Surfer.
And now as an adult , I love the movies and if I’m going to be honest, I still love the comic books too. But I love watching the movies based on those comic books Especially. Seeing all of my favorite comic book characters come to life on the big screen.
Some of those superheroes have God-like powers. In our Gospel reading today, Jesus tells them that they will “cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.” Almost sounds as though he is telling them they will have God-like powers.
Meg and I are both big movie fans. However we don’t get to the movie theaters very often. We really only go to the theater for something that we know will have great special effects and seeing it on a big screen will really enhance our enjoyment of the movie. However, since Elizabeth was born, our visits to the movie theater have gotten even more rare.
There is really only one time of day when we can hope to watch a movie of any kind. This is the post Lizzie bedtime movie. When we finally get her down at night and we cuddle on the couch to watch a movie. In actuality, it’s usually watching about half of the movie before we are so exhausted that we simply fall asleep.
However, right now we are gearing up to go see the new Wonder Woman movie. So we have been watching the precursors to that film. One of those being Man of Steel. This is definitely my favorite rendition of Superman. I think Henry Cavil does an excellent job.
During one scene of this movie, the young Clark Kent is sitting in a classroom. His teacher starts to ask him questions and he is unable to control his own powers. Suddenly he’s seeing everything with x-ray vision and he’s hearing everybody’s whispers and it is information overload. In this moment the young Clark Kent panics and he runs out of the classroom down the hallway and hides in the closet closing his eyes and covering his ears just trying to drown out all the chaos of the world around him.
Then his mother shows up. In a panicked voice, the young Clark says, “the world is too big, mom.”
She replies with something that struck me.
“The world is too big, Mom.”
To which she replies, “Then make it small. Just focus on my voice. Pretend it’s an island out in the ocean… Swim towards it.”
There is something about that exchange that struck me the first time I watched it and struck me again even more so when I saw this last time. In our world of mass media today we are inundated with information.
All the reports from across the globe and the images of the chaos of the world around us overwhelm our senses. We are able to see things across the globe in a fraction of a second unlike any other time in our history. It can feel as though we hear the whispers of someone on the other side of the planet. Not to mention their screams. It can make us want to run and hide in the closet covering our ears and closing her eyes just trying to block out the chaos of the world around us.
It can make us feel helpless. We cry out to God, “the world is too big.” The problems of this world are too big. How can one person, such as myself, hope to make any difference.
The world seems too big. Sometimes we wish we had God-like powers to change the world. As I said, we cry out to God that the world is too big. The world is more than we can handle.
Then God tells us, if the world is too big, make it small. Just focus on God’s voice. We may not have God-like powers but we do have the power of God with us. We have God with us. We are gifted by the Holy Spirit and we are can trust in the waters of our baptism. In those waters we swim toward the voice of God.
Speaking of the waters of baptism. Today St. Peter’s is blessed to witness the baptism of three children. Three children officially becoming part of the body of Christ to which we all belong. Is there any better way to celebrate Father’s Day with Our Father in Heaven, than with a baptism?
At a baptism, we present the newly baptized with a lit candle. The light of this candle representing the light of Christ. But an interesting thing about the light of that candle. It only lights the immediate area around it clearly. In a room with only that candle as a source of light, you would only be able to see clearly what is immediately surrounding you. The farther away from you that you try to look, the less clearly you are able to see with detail. Likewise, God shows us how to affect the world the clearest in the area surrounding us.
Like the light from that baptismal candle, God lights the path right in front of us. We can’t always see a destination any farther than right in front of us. We can make plans for next year, next month, next week, tomorrow, but in reality the only step that we can be certain of is the step we take right now, right here.
So how many of you, growing up, have thrown a rock or pebble into a pond, lake, or some other sizable body of water just to watch the ripples flow out from it? I bet over my life, I have thrown hundreds of rocks into the water just for that very reason. Just to watch the ripples on the pond.
We can only throw that rock so far though. The closer our target is the more accurate we are. The more likely we are to hit our target. However, no matter where we throw that pebble the ripples travel to the farthest reaches of the pond. In fact, the farther the ripples travel, the harder it is to distinguish just what effect those ripples might have.
God sheds light right here just where he wants us to throw our pebbles into the water. We know those pebbles, our actions, will cause ripples to carry across time and space in the waters of this world but we have no idea exactly what the results will be.
This is the nature of faith. We don’t always know what the results of our actions will be, but we listen to God’s voice and look to the place God has shown us where and how to act, and we cast our pebbles into the water there. Then we trust in God. Because even though we cannot begin to fathom the extent of the effect of our actions, God does know. Regardless of whether we understand it, God has a reason for having us cast our pebbles in certain places.
When our world seems too big, we focus on the world right around us. We focus on helping our communities and our neighbors. As the lives of our neighbors in our community are improved, those ripples travel outwards and over time travel farther and farther helping more and more people.
No matter where we find ourselves, everywhere we travel, we have the ability to create positive ripples of change in the waters around us. For instance, St. Peter’s has traveled to Tanzania and been able to cast pebbles in waters across the globe. Those ripples radiate out through that community helping all those around them. But even there, change takes place within a community. Change always begins with the neighbor in the community.
Another supply of pebbles that St. Peter’s casts into the waters of the world are the interns you so lovingly embrace. The Holy Spirit through St. Peter’s and all of you, have spent a year helping guide my direction and actions and those ripples will be long reaching and we can not imagine where or what the effects might be.
This is my last Sunday here with you. And I truly could not have been more blessed than by being able to call St. Peter’s home for the last year. As I leave here, on behalf of not only myself, but on behalf of all the interns who have come before me and all the interns who will come after me, I wish to thank you all. Thank you for helping guide me. Thank you for walking with me. And thank you for helping me create ripples of positive change in the troubled waters of life.
And for each and every one of you all, I say thanks be to God and amen.