Friday, June 12, 2009

Sermon for Trinity Sunday 2009

Here Am I, Send Me

Today we celebrate Trinity Sunday.
We celebrate the binding together of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Some might prefer Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer.
Whatever language rings true for us,
The message is the same:
this three in one and one in three,
dances together, inseparable.
Priest and writer Herbert O’Driscoll
calls it “the reality, power and ceaseless working”
of God in the world.

Today in our diocese we also celebrate Seminarian Sunday.
The Bishop has asked that our loose plate offering today
Go to a fund that will help our seminarians
with the expenses of their studies.
A good cause.
And one that fits quite nicely with our readings this morning.

All the scripture readings today
remind us of God’s continuing work in the world.
In Isaiah we have a powerful and beautiful vision
of what it is to be called by God.
In Paul’s letter we are told that if we allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit
we will be freed from our self-centeredness
And discover what it is to really live.
In John’s Gospel we meet Nicodemus—
an intellectual,
a man with many questions—
and a man with deep spiritual hunger.
Jesus is not afraid of questions—
especially from those who are struggling
to find their way in the dark.

It is easy to think that God only uses some of us.
Only some are called to the priesthood.
Only some are intellectuals struggling with theology.
Only some are worthy of God’s call.
God only wants and needs some of us.

Wrong. So wrong.
God needs all of us.

Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
And I said, “Here I am, send me!”

Here I am. Send me.

Those are the words God longs to hear us say.

I want to tell you a true story that I read in the magazine Christianity Today:

Marion Mill was born in a fairy tale royal palace in Hungary.
Her first spoon was sold gold. Truly. Solid gold.

Her parents sent her to school in Vienna
Where she became an actress.
There she met and fell in love
with a young medical student named Otto.

Otto and Marion married and moved to Hollywood, California.
Otto began to dabble in movies.

He became so interested in movies
that he gave up his medical practice.
Otto went on to become a very famous movie director.
Otto Preminger.

Marion's beauty, her wit, and her irresistible charm
brought her everything. All her heart’s desires.
In Europe, New York and
Hollywood she became a famous international hostess.

But there was a problem.
Marion could not handle the fast life of Hollywood.
Her life became a storm of alcohol, drugs and numerous affairs.
Her life and her lifestyle sank into complete chaos,
even by Hollywood standards.
Otto Preminger finally divorced Marion.
She had several other unsuccessful marriages.
She tried to take her own life three times—unsuccessfully.
Finally she moved back to Vienna.

There at a party she met another doctor,
a doctor named Albert Schweitzer,
the well-known medical doctor,
musician, philosopher, theologian
and missionary.

Schweitzer was home on leave from his hospital
in Lambarene, Africa.

Marion was so fascinated by Schweitzer,
that she asked him if she could talk to him alone,
and he said yes.

For almost six months, every week,
she met with Dr. Albert Schweitzer.
At the end of that time he was going to go back to Africa,
and Marion begged him to let her go with him.

Schweitzer surprised everyone by agreeing.
Marion, the young princess, who was born in a palace,
Marion who had royally messed up a marriage
and a life of fame and privilege,
went to live in a little village
in Lambarene, Africa.

She spent much of the rest of her life
emptying bed pans
and tearing up sheets to make bandages
caring for on those
who were the poorest and most unprivileged.
She also raised money to support Schweitzer’s work in Africa.

Marion Mill Preminger grew up a spoiled, self-centered little girl
and became an equally spoiled self-centered woman.

But just as Nicodemus went in the night to Jesus
to try to understand what it means to be “born again,”
to have a life in God.
So Marion Preminger went to Albert Schweitzer,
to try to understand
what it was that gives life meaning.

She wrote her autobiography.
I love the title of it---All I Want is Everything.

When she died, Time Magazine quoted from her autobiography these words:

"Albert Schweitzer says there are two kinds of people.
There are the helpers, and the non-helpers.
I thank God He allowed me to become a helper,
and in helping, I found

Helpers and non-helpers.
We choose.

God has a standing invitation open to all of us— to each one of us—
to come and be a part of God’s work in the world.

We make many excuses—
I’m too old, I’m too young,
I’m too poor, I’m too busy,
I’m too sick, I’m too unappreciated…
many, many excuses.

But excuses are just another way
of saying that we choose to be a non-helper.
We choose to say NO to God’s invitation.

We choose.

We all cannot go to Africa as a missionary.
Or even as a missionary’s helper.
But all it takes is one brief glance around us in the world
to find something we can do.
If not in the wide world,
in our community or in our church or in our school,
in our workplace or in our own family.

We can make a difference—
IF we are willing.
IF we are willing to say YES,
and join in the immense, diverse and amazing work of God.

Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
Here I am.
Send me.

Send me.
Send me.

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