March 23, 2020

Virtual Sunday – 4 Lent Year A Virtual Episcopal Church at Yale #1

Virtual Sunday – 4 Lent Year A Virtual Episcopal Church at Yale #1

4 Lent Year A                                                                          Virtual Episcopal Church at Yale # 1

The Rev. Paul J. Carling, Ph.D.                                                                             March 22, 2020


All You Need is Love

1 Samuel 16: 1-13; John 9: 1-41


Lord, open our ears to hear your word;

open our hearts to live your word. Amen.


My beloved friends in Christ. We gather tonight in an unspeakably challenging time – it’s just plain weird, perhaps the weirdest of our lives. We’re learning a whole new lexicon – social distancing; community spread; flattening the curve; zoom fatigue – terms we grasp for some scintilla of control over the gathering darkness. We’re clueless about what’s happening today, or tomorrow, or how long this existential nightmare might last. And feelings – so many new, and raw, and scary feelings.


Yet, sitting in my study this afternoon – 12 days into sheltering at home – I watched two Canadian geese gliding down Ash Creek, impervious to all this worry and angst. I saw the sunlight tenderly coaxing one more daffodil bud to break through the caked winter earth. And I thought of a verse in that wonderfully comforting poem of Mary Oliver’s, Wild Geese.



Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.


Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
       are moving across the landscapes,
       over the prairies and the deep trees,
       the mountains and the rivers.


Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

       are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

       the world offers itself to your imagination,
       calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
       over and over announcing your place
       in the family of things.


I read an e-mail that one of our members got engaged yesterday (Yaaay, Helena and John!). And on zoom call after zoom call, I’ve heard the amazing creativity of faith communities everywhere, finding ways to keep connected, stay hopeful, keep serving others. If there was ever a time, my beloveds, to get back to basics, it’s right now.

  • The basics: In the deep wisdom of the Serenity Prayer, knowing the difference between what we can change and what we need to accept.
  • The basics: Looking to Jesus, the “rock” in our lives, the foundation of our very existence.


We humans crave tangible expressions of God’s presence; remember we have these all around us, in the geese, in the daffodils, and in each of our relationships. Relationships counter the constant invitation to fear. They remind us we’re each beloved children of God, born to be light bearers, and love bearers, for ourselves and for the world. They immunize us against isolation and fear, and the night terrors those breed.


Even as we’re told we can’t touch each other, we’re discovering whole new ways to hold, and hug, and love; the very ways God has used for millenia to comfort and equip us for God’s love affair with the world. Just as the sun loves that daffodil into life, we too are learning again to love.


I wonder… if we practice this kind of love, love in a time of pandemic, if maybe, just maybe, we might begin to heal the chronic diseases we’ve succumbed to in recent years – the epidemic of hatreds unleashed, especially toward those on the margins of our society.


In the fact that we are all bound together in this crisis – rich and poor, people of every race and creed, of every gender, of every politics – I wonder whether Jesus is reminding us that, as always, those on the margins will take the brunt of it, and that we can simply no longer afford to perpetuate the inequities we’ve tolerated, colluded with, for so many generations.


My dear friends in Christ, the invitation in this time is simple, and it’s found in Jesus’ summary of the law:  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”


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