I AM WHO I AM – a sermon for the first Sunday in Advent – Mark 13:24-37

On this first Sunday in Advent we embarked on a pilgrimage into MYSTERY. Our first reading was The Star Within: a creation story by Dr. Paula Lehman & Rev. Sarah Griffith, followed  by a musical video reflection My Soul by Peter Mayer which you can watch  HERE Our Gospel reading was from Mark 13:24-37

Listen to the sermon here

“But in those days, after that time of distress, the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will fall from the sky and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.”

The anonymous gospel storyteller that we call Mark leaves us with so many questions. But then, the anonymous gospel storyteller that we call Mark lived in a community that asked so very many questions; questions, questions, and more questions. So, many questions without answers, living in a mystery, surrounded by mystery, heading into mystery, living lives characterized by mystery. Confronted and confounded by the reality that Jesus was gone. Rome was still in power. The people continued to suffer. Justice had been denied. Horrific violence was the order of the day. When was God going to do something? When would injustice end? How would it end? Was Jesus wrong? Is Jesus Way of non-violent resistance to injustice wrong? Will the rich and powerful always win? Will justice always be denied?

Left without answers, the anonymous gospel storyteller that we call Mark, offers us stories, parables, symbols, and metaphors. Stories, parables, symbols, and metaphors continue to be the offerings of Advent as we confront the mysteries of our lives. In the words of the song we just heard:

“There are a hundred billion snowflakes swirling in the cosmic storm. And each one is a galaxy, a billion stars or more.  And each star is a million earths, a giant fiery sun High up in some sky, maybe shining on some one”

Stars and Snowflakes continue to swirl in and around us like questions about the mysteries that swirled in and around our ancestors.

Who AM I?

What Am I?

Where did I come from?

Who made me?

I AM…

Why Am I?

Where AM I going?

I AM.

Like Moses at the burning bush the answers we receive to our burning questions remain:

I AM WHO I AM

YAHWEH

I AM IS the MYSTERY

I AM WHO I AM is the answer our ancestors passed on to us.

I AM IS the MYSTERY that lies at the very core of our being.

I AM, the name given to the MYSTERY that is our SOURCE.

Could this really be the answer?

Or are these words, I AM WHO I AM, the source of our questions, questions that bring us back to MYSTERY.

Confronted and confounded by the MYSTERY we call God, like the anonymous gospel storyteller that we call Mark, I too can only offer stories, parables, symbols, and metaphors. But then, Advent is the season for stories, parables, symbols, and metaphors. So, let me offer you a story. It’s a story I’ve told you many times. But then Advent is the season for telling stories we’ve all heard so often that we sometimes forget that they are but stories, parables, symbols, and metaphors.

I first heard this from a very wise seminary professor and since then I’ve heard Marcus Borg and Parker Palmer tell it. I’m not sure that this story actually happened, but I am sure that it is absolutely true! It’s a story about a three-year-old girl who was the only child in her family.  Her mom is pregnant, and this three-year-old girl is very excited about having a baby in the house.  The day comes when the mother-to-be goes into labour, and the mom and dad go off to the hospital.  A couple of days later they come home with a new baby brother.  And the little girl is just delighted. But after they’ve been home for a couple of hours, the little girl tells her parents that she wants to be with the baby in the baby’s room, alone, by themselves, with the door shut.  She’s absolutely insistent about the door being shut.  It kind of gives her folks the willies, you know?  They know she’s a good little girl, but they’ve heard about sibling rivalry and they’re not sure about what they should do. Then they remember that they’ve recently installed an intercom system in preparation for the arrival of the new baby, and they realize that they can let their little girl do this, and if they hear the slightest weird thing happening, they can be in there in a flash. So, they let their little girl go into the room. They close the door behind her. They race to the listening post. They hear her footsteps move across the room. They imagine her now standing over the baby’s crib, and then they hear her say to her two-day-old baby brother, “Tell me about God. I’ve almost forgotten.”

Who AM I?

Why AM I?

What AM I?

How will this all end?

What will become of me?

What will become of my loved ones?

Where have they gone?

Where AM I going?

I AM WHO I AM…the answer to the MYSTERY handed down from generation to generation.

Who AM I?

I AM…is the answer…

Like all answers this answer creates more questions???

The MYSTERY that lies at the very core of reality is the very MYSTERY of which I AM an intricate part.

Where do I come from?

Stars, dust, dust to dust, ashes, to ashes… I AM …living dying, born again, therein lies the MYSTERY that I AM.

Who made me?

That I AM points me toward the MYSTERY of my beginning and beyond my ending to the MYSTERY that I will become.

Why AM I?

I AM – I AM – the wonder of our being ought to stop us in our tracks, stun us into silence, awestruck by the beauty of our breath, the MYSTERY of our SPIRIT…

Questioning our BEING, wondering, touching, reaching for answers…

Like the song says:

And deep inside a snowflake, I am floating quietly

I am infinitesimal, impossible to see

Sitting in my tiny kitchen in my tiny home

Staring out my window at a universe of snow

But my soul is so much bigger than the very tiny me

It reaches out into the snowstorm like a net into the sea

Out to all the lovely places where my body cannot go

I touch that beauty and embrace it in the bosom of my soul

And so brief and fleeting is this tiny life of mine

Like a single quarter note in the march of time

But my soul is like the music, it goes back to ancient days

Back before it wore a human face, long before it bore my name

Because my soul is so much older than the evanescent me

It can describe the dawn of time like a childhood memory

It is a spark that was begotten of the darkness long ago

What my body has forgotten, I remember in my soul

So we live this life together, my giant soul and tiny me

One resembling forever, one like smoke upon the breeze

One the deep abiding ocean, one a sudden flashing wave

And counting galaxies like snowflakes, I would swear we were the same

Oh my soul belongs to beauty, takes me up to lofty heights

Teaches sacred stories to me, sanctifies my tiny life

Lays a bridge across the ages, melts the boundaries of my bones

Paints a bold eternal face on this passing moment, oh my soul

Who AM I?

Stardust, ashes and snowflakes

I AM WHO I AM,

We ARE…

We are ONE…

The MYSTERY of our BEING is the I AM of which we ARE…

As to why or where we are going, or why or where they have all gone???

We are ONE…

And this, dear friends, is the miracle of the MYSTERY that we ARE.

For in the words of Julian of Norwich, “We are not just made by God, we are made of God.”

YAHWEH, I AM WHO I AM…and so dear friends are you, stardust and snowflakes, for we are ONE, made of the very MYSTERY that we call GOD.

WE ARE!

WE are so much more than the very tiny

Me, the very tiny you, for WE ARE!

Let the MYSTERY of that we call God, enfold you in the LOVE that IS God.

EMMANUEL – God IS with US. Now and always. Amen

 

 

 

 

One thought on “I AM WHO I AM – a sermon for the first Sunday in Advent – Mark 13:24-37

  1. Once again Pastor Dawn Hutchings has provided us with profound thoughts for reflection and growth during this holy season of Advent. Thank you, Pastor Dawn.
    Pastor Jon Fogleman

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