It seems odd, even to me, that in the midst of tragedy--like that which all too many of us witnessed in Tucson last week--that I find myself turning to Mr. Rogers. Yes, Mr. Rogers, of the neighborhood. As a child I watched intently as he slipped off his loafers and donned his slippers, hung his sweater and welcomed me to his home. There was something comforting about the sweet ritual which began each show--there was stability, love, welcome and constancy. And, as I spent time in prayer and the research that accompanies sermon preparation I stumbled across this line “look for the helpers”. I delved deeper and found the following:
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."
What has struck me about this statement, “look for the helpers” is how simple yet comforting it is. Because, as the vitriol began to emerge; as politicizing began; as tragedy was compounded by tragedy--the stories of helpers began to emerge. The young man, Daniel Hernandez an intern, who staunched the flow of blood and offered companionship to the gravely wounded congresswoman is one such helper. Yet, this is by no means the only tragedy in the world nor is he the only helper. When faced with the tragedy of institutionalized racism Martin Luther King Jr. became a helper; Nelson Mandela sought the end of apartheid; Desmond Tutu witnesses to the power of truth and reconciliation; Mother Theresa served the poor; Jonathan Daniels martyred in Alabama during a semester spent working for equality; Dorothy Sayers who used her eloquence to share her love of Christ; there are many, many more notable folk--people who’ve made the news and our history books or who’ve been officially recognized. Yet, I am positive that each and every one of us can name helpers who have walked with us in our own lives, in our own tragedies.
One of my own light bringers was a woman named Karen who facilitated a glbt teen group on Maui--while Karen was most decidedly NOT a Christian; she was a former nun now turned pagan--she clearly exemplified the love and compassion of the kingdom of God through her work with marginalized teens. Take a moment, just a moment, and think of someone in your life who has been a helper, a light bringer, a “saviour” to you in some capacity or another.
These are the people who are a light to the nations; these are the people who have seen tragedy in the world and responded with the love of God. These are people who are called to be saints. These are people who have stood before the powers of evil and been like the rock for which Simon called Peter is named.
Yet, these light bringers are not called to be saints alone...as Paul writes they are called “together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours”.
In EVERY place, in the here and the now. This means that we are called to be light bringers, we are called to be helpers, we are called to be saints. We are called and these passages this day, they are a call to action. We are asked by Christ to “come and see”; to follow; to witness and in doing so we must respond. Like Simon, we are to be transformed.
That is, IF we heed the call; if we are willing to open our eyes and see and respond by living out our vocations as Christians. And, this, this call to seek Christ to follow Christ is a focal point of Epiphany. As I told the children last week we are called to be like the wise men--seek Christ; give our gifts; and keep Christ safe.
But, this week we can elaborate based on the scriptures we’ve shared today. It is our calling to be a light to the nations--to demonstrate how the love of God lived out in justice and mercy can transform the world. It is our calling to be saints--to live a life that truly seeks and serves Christ in every person and acts as Christ’s hands and feet in the world. It is our calling to testify to the presence of Christ in our lives, to invite others to “come and see”.
It is our calling to be helpers. so that when tragedy strikes others can look to us and see the transformative power of love.
It is our calling...to come and see.
Come and see...
Because Christ continues to be revealed to us...