PASTOR BRAD'S PAGE
Advent 1C, November 28, 2021
Mary Sermon Series, John 19:25-30
“The Days of Our Lives”
This morning is the start of the season of Advent and in conjunction with these beautiful art pieces that have been gifted to us. We start a sermon series on Mary and we’re gonna work a bit in reverse, starting w/the end of the story.
We begin with Mary at the foot of the cross. What do you imagine she is thinking as she stood there? Apparently, she is calm and composed; John doesn’t mention her crying or wailing. What do you imagine she is thinking as she stood there, watching as the child she carried in her womb, gave birth to, nursed sang lullabies too, suffers an agonizing death? What do you imagine she is thinking as the mid-day sun intensifies, as the nails are hammered into his hands and feet? What do you imagine she is thinking as she watches the blood, sweat and tears pour from his body? What do you imagine she is thinking as she watches his pain increase, his muscles cramp and his breathing become more labored? What do you imagine she is thinking as she watches her son being crucified?
Did she remember Simeon’s words to her at the temple, “A sword will pierce your side also”? Did she remember the magi presenting her with myrrh, used for embalming? Could it be, as she watches the crucifixion of her son that the only thing that can help her cope with this terrible day, is to remember his birth? The only thing that can help her cope is to remember shepherds arriving, coming to see the child the angels talked and sang about? The only thing that can help her cope is to remember going to the temple and Simeon declaring, “I can die in peace. I’ve seen the hope of the world.” Could it be, as she watches the crucifixion of her son that the only thing that can help her cope with this terrible day is remembering the magi arriving at her home, kneeling before him opening their treasure chests and offering him gifts.
She’s standing there, watching. So close, he can speak to her. He can see her pain even if she’s trying to be strong for him and even as he hangs on the cross, his selfless acts continue. Jesus entrusts his mother to the care of his disciple and vice-versa. While in enormous pain himself, he is still thinking of others. His last act, as he dies hanging on the cross is to ask one of his followers to look after his mother in his absence and his mother to look after him, entrusting them to each other’s care. Then John writes that without any debate, he takes her into his home.
In his darkest hour, in his final moments, he attends to the needs of his mother and his disciple. He redefines the concept of family. Caring for others becomes a communal obligation. We become a communal family, one with Christ and one with each other, one body, connected by Christ rather than our DNA.
Just as Jesus asked his disciple to look after his mother in his absence. Just as Jesus asked his mother to look after his disciple in his absence. Likewise, Jesus asks us, his disciples; to continue to look after one another in his absence, to be that communal family that cares for one another, to be one with Christ and one with each other, to be one body, connected by Christ rather than our DNA. This is our mission, to be the light of Christ in his absence; to bring hope to the world, to comfort the grieving, to welcome the stranger, support the weak, help the afflicted, to fight injustice, make peace, forgive freely and love unconditionally, to be a communal family, one body, one with Christ and one with each other, not only today, not only tomorrow, not only during the season of Advent, but all the days of our lives. Amen.
Rev. Bradley A. Walmer,
a 2008 graduate of Lancaster Theological Seminary, where he received his Master of Divinity degree and was awarded the 2008 Rev. Delores Berry prize for preaching. He was ordained into Christian ministry by the Lebanon Association of the Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ on June 1, 2008. Prior to beginning his pastorate here at New Covenant on August 1, 2015, he served as the pastor of St. Paul’s Summer Hill UCC in Auburn, Pa (located southeast of Pottsville, PA).
Pastor Brad and his wife Michelle were born and raised in Lebanon County and now reside in the area with their dog, Barkley.