There is a conversation that goes on in the world every day. It happens in every town and city. It happens in deserts and forests. It happens on farms and fields.
The conversation began with the beginning of time and stretches to this very moment and beyond.
It is a conversation that goes on in every language. Not one person in the world is left out: Regardless of age, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender orientation, societal status, or economic advantage, every human being is called by name. Every human being is called the voice of God.
Isaiah and the Psalmist took part in the conversation. Paul the Apostle and all the other apostles answered the voice of God. Simon Peter, James, John and all the discoples had a turn at answering the call…and so do we.
It goes something like this:
God: Hey! Listen to me! Have I got plans for you!
The people of God: What, me? Are you talking to me?
God: Yes, you. You are my beloved child. I knew you in your mothers womb. I know who you are and I know everything you could be. I am calling you.
Fear answers: I don’t think I’m the one you want. I’m really not very good at things. I’m sure you can find someone better. I am sinful. I am weak.
Sadness answers: I can’t. I’m too broken. I’m too tired. I have nothing left to give. You can’t mean me.
Anger answers: Why can’t you leave me alone? I can’t be expected to do it all.
Happiness answers: What a wonderful day! It’s going just the way I planned. Let me just enjoy it… Can I get back to you tomorrow?
God: Listen to me! I have good work for you to do. I have message that my people need to hear. I have people I need you to meet. Your story will make a difference. Your thoughts and dreams are important. You can change the world.
Fear answers: What is it you are asking me to do? I am nothing special. People wouldn’t want to hear from me.
Sadness answers: It hurts too much to say it out loud. I can’t imagine that this terrible thing could change anything. I just don’t see it.
Anger answers: Why do I have to help them? Somebody should be helping me. If they can’t figure out what to do, why should I try to make them hear me?
Happiness answers: I’m sure it will be fine in the end. Somebody will step forward. I’ll definitely be there next time.
Once again, God speaks: My children, you are sufficient… All I ask of you is to live with integrity and be authentically yourselves. You do not need to be the healer. You do not need to be the Word that is spoken in the world. You do not need to be an example of perfection. I already sent you a healer, a Word spoken to the whole world, a gift given to be in your midst and to call you to be everything you can be.
Fear, I say to you that you have the ability to enter into the distress and terror that others feel in a way that no one else can. You are wise with knowing how fearfulness shackles creativity and holds people back. You can break through the loneliness and the isolation that imprisons them. Two or three gathered together can overcome paralyzing fear and forge a path to freedom.
Sadness, be careful of letting the world shrink down to a single moment, a single betrayal, living and reliving it like an endless loop. I call you into seeing all that happens in the world, both good and bad, both in your own life and in the lives of others. You are a survivor and are more than the sum of your experiences. Reach out and be compassion in the world—you have been given the great task and unbelievable honor of being able to enter into the grief of others and stay with them.
Anger, look upon the world and those around you with my eyes and let go of your expectations. Disappointment drives you and fuels your fury. I have things planned that are greater than you can imagine, the horizon of my work is wider and the breadth of my invitation is greater than any human mind can comprehend. Expect to be surprised. Expect to be humbled. Expect to be delighted and disappointed and more. Expect that you can do more than you can imagine—and that others can too.
Happiness, hold these present moments lightly for they are not yours to keep. Rather it is a token that is passed from one to another. Happiness lasts for a moment, but shared it is transformed into joy—a joy that invites others to join in. Please understand that joy is a precious and abiding gift and worth risking the momentary contentment to which you cling.
Beloved children, here is what I promise you: When you reach out and touch another person you are reaching out to me. When you bind up those who are broken, when you feed those who are hungry, when you visit those who are shut in or imprisoned, when you clothe those who have nothing…. in those moments you are serving me. When you open yourself to be a channel of my love, understanding, healing, or peace, you are bringing those things into the world. When you struggle for justice, you are defending my will.
Look into the eyes of your brother or sister and you will see me. Take their hand or speak words of comfort and you will inevitably draw nearer to me. Be midwives to each other and bring into the world all that I want for you.
I ask you again: Which of you will bring to reality all that I have planned? Who will work in my vineyards? Who will throw my nets into the sea? Who will go for me? Whom shall I send?
Let me ask you: Are you willing to have that conversation? What will your answer be?
Preached by the Rev. Hailey McKeefry Delmas at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in San Carlos on February 10, 2019.