A Requiem for Oscaria; Sermon on Finding Rest

This is one of many difficult sermons I have had to write..

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

The only Good News

In times of darkness and sorrow

That is comforting

Is that regardless how we struggle

With our faith,

With our questions

Jesus is ALWAYS WITH US

And Jesus Christ,

Will be there

When the pain is too great,

And we need to lay our burdens down.

Amen.

(pause)

“A voice is heard in Ramah,

lamentation and bitter weeping.

Rachel is weeping for her children;

she refuses to be comforted for her children,

because they are no more.”

How many times have we heard this verse?

How many times have we shifted it to metaphor?

But,

That is all that I could think of,

Sitting with and trying to comfort my cousin,

Because her daughter was no more.

And all I could do was question,

Why?

(pause)

The only comfort that stands,

Was embedded in the answer I already knew

That in those moments of darkness,

Despair

Pain and hurt that I cannot even fathom,

Anyone going through,

That Jesus Christ,

Jesus

Called out to Osciara-

“Come to me,

you that are weary

who are carrying heavy burdens,

and I will give you rest.”

(pause)

I had spotted these words

Written by Rev. Traci Blackmon,

A couple of days prior,

To the world coming to a complete halt for myself

And my family,

Thursday afternoon.

Rev. Blackmon shared on Facebook these words-

I wonder if I am the only one that sometimes wrestles with God.

(I think we, especially as pastoral leaders,

Already with this public perception

that we are perfectly rooted in our faith

and yet we do wrestle with God,

especially in our limited understanding sometimes

about what truly God’s grace and salvation means,

for ALL)

I wonder if I am the only one that doesn’t live every day feeling victorious.

(Especially in those moments,

When everything we thought we have perfectly plotted out,

Following God’s words

Falls apart

And we feel like failures)

I wonder if I am the only one that is incapable of overcoming deep hurt and loss with a few affirmations.

(Because we just don’t want to have to be confronted with this ugliness)

I wonder if I am the only one who wonders if perhaps my faith has failed.

…and then I remember why I still cry. Why I still mourn. Why I still declare that sometimes. In spite of Jesus. Life still sucks.

(pause)

How could I even rest in God,

When I found myself,

Devastated?

How could any of us, in our family

Even begin to cast our burdens upon Jesus,

When all we were feeling was

Frustration,

Helpless,

Hopeless

And we feel the need to do something,

to make things right?

How can we even believe

That Jesus’s words here

In Matthew,

Hold any weight

Or have any impact in our lives,

Especially when it seems

That humanity does not live into the promise

And the commandment

And the purpose,

Of what the Creator calls us into?

(pause)

“Come to me,

All you that are weary,

And are carrying burdens,

And I will give you,

Rest.”

(pause)

Originally I wanted to acknowledge,

That it is hard to breathe,

In moments of chaos,

And subsequently I wanted to explore

Expound,

As sisters and brothers in Christ

That when these questions surface,

What tools do we engage,

That help us

Put down our burdens,

Because the Good News is,

Jesus has no problem,

Taking those burdens,

Those worries

Away from us

(pause)

I wonder,

If John the Baptist,

Ever heard these words from Jesus,

Locked away

Imprisoned

Merely because he spoke truth,

Merely because there were those,

Who condemned him,

Because he did not conform

To their ideal

Of a prophet.

I wonder,

How those

Freedom Fighters,

Names known and unknown

Possibly leaned on this verse,

On Jesus’s words

When they were ostracized

Criticized

For lifting their voices,

For living out their faith

For following the Holy Spirit,

More so now,

Than perhaps ever,

To do for the least of these,

To do random acts of kindness,

As we heard in Jesus’s words

In Matthew

Last week,

whoever gives even a cup of cold water,”

(pause)

There is so much pain,

In our world

We know so easily

And can point out,

Where it seems so many communities’ hearts,

Are collectively broken.

There are so many places,

Where our presence

As God’s hands,

And feet

And voice

Is sorely needed:

In hospital rooms

And by hospice bedsides

On the streets fighting

For justice and for peace

Inside the prisons

Working towards redemption

(pause)

There are empty rooms,

Where the absence of the Good News

Of Jesus Christ

Reverberates

Sadness,

Because for our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ,

They feel as if God is distant

Has abandoned them

Because the only thing filling these dwelling spaces,

Is hatred

And malice

That is woven

Into the fabric

Unfortunately,

Of our existence.

We cannot stop,

The world needs to be saved,

There’s too much going on

There’s people dying,

Suffering

Starving

And we question WHY

Why are these burdens seemingly

Repeatedly

Stacked on our very being?

WHY GOD WHY,

Why won’t you stop this,

Why can’t you end this,

Why won’t you make your presence known,

So this communal pain

Will end?

And we decide that God is being distant

And removed from humanity

And we have to do all this work,

Because we can’t watch our loved ones

Fail,

Falter

And wither away.

But, beloved

We can’t!

We come to the realization

That we can’t do for everyone

We don’t have the solution

Or the answers,

We can’t even look to the Bible,

Because we even find ourselves questioning Jesus!

(pause)

“Come to me,

All you who are weary,”

It is that simple,

The Good News is

That simple,

In those moments when we find our hands scratched

Our feet sore,

Our voices horse

And our spirits, broken

Because we just do not understand,

This is when Jesus Christ,

Our Risen Savior and Lord,

Comes in our midst,

In ways we would have never figured

And says,

Rest!

Take my yoke,

My teaching,

My peace,

My grace

Upon you,

And learn from me,

For I am gentle

And humble

In heart,

Especially when ours

Are crushed

And you will find REST

For your souls.”

(pause)

The burden,

That weighs upon me,

Is how do I find justice,

For a beautiful 19 year old,

Who the darkness in humanity lashed out

and consumed her,

Until she couldn’t breathe

What do I do?

My family is hurting

I am hurting

I am angry,

And I hear Jesus,

Telling me through the voices of dear friends,

That I have to rest,

Because the Good News is,

When Osciara could not bear the pain anymore,

When we, cannot bear the pain anymore

Jesus is always there

Telling us,

Telling her

“Come unto me,

You, beloved

Who are so weary,

And I,

Give you

Rest.”

Thanks Be to God

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