Deep Within Us
This has been an unusual week. I’ve spent a great deal of time at funerals both in person and virtually. On Tuesday I presided at the memorial of a friend of mine who was 3 years younger than me. I joined in the many people who observed some of the 7-hour Home Going of Aretha Franklin, “The Queen” of Soul, and finally this morning, the funeral liturgy for Senator John McCain. I experienced a lot of emotion, prayer, and thought in these hours spent with the dead and the grieving. When we consider our mortality, it does make us stop for a moment or so and make us think.
In a way it seems out of place, all these ceremonies, hymns, eulogies, and tears on Labor Day Weekend, a time for us to rest and celebrate the fruits of our labor. Perhaps it is more connected than it seems to have the convergence of all these events within one week.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of what is deep within us. In the context of the scripture he talks about the evil that may come from within the people he is addressing. I would like to talk with you about the true, the good, and the beautiful that are within each of us. In every one of you lives the spark of God’s Divine grace, filling us with the capacity for love, tenderness, courage, compassion, and generosity. These virtues dwell inside of us and they are born out through our lives together from our deepest being into the lives of those we encounter, God set them there. This is what poets and leaders are referring to when they speak of the “better angels of our nature”.
When these innate virtues are exercised toward others they truly come alive, sharing God’s Divine love.
The last couple days we saw or heard of the celebration of two very different lives. A queen, Aretha, and a Senator, John McCain. Two devout believers, two people who were unafraid of speaking or singing the truth. Two people who were loved, revered and imitated by many. These two giants in their fields left the world with a treasure trove of their life’s work. They will not soon be forgotten for sharing the light that came from deep within them. Talent, humor, courage, humility, beauty, honor, insight, truth. The Queen and the Senator let the light of their inner being shine onto so many others during their time here. They truly exemplified the transcendental treasures of the True, the good, and the beautiful. They left their words and songs and deeds as examples for those to come. But I am in your midst today, not at a funeral in Detroit or Arizona or Washington, D.C. and we are celebrating lives here as well. We are gathered in joy and friendship to celebrate the Word of God and the Sacred Meal of the Eucharist together. I understand that I am standing among heroes of word, and deed, and song right here. I know that there are those of you in this house who have been selfless, courageous, generous, humble, brilliant, and dutybound. I have heard songs from talented artists, voices, and accompanists. I am certain that there are those among us who have done amazing and heroic things. Some of which are known and some unknown. For that reality, I remain in awe of you. It is through all of you who have shared those things that dwell deep within, that our living God is born again and again. It is in everyone here who shares those depths of their inner soul that we hear the breath of God that God still breathes. The loving and eternal God who inspires us in the very deepest part of our souls to breathe the Divine Spirit to the world.