January 22, 2017

Gotta Get them All

Christmas eve 2016 sermon
Interesting how stories and rumors evolve.  Our scripture today is a familiar one, but did you notice, there are no tales of how the sheep and the cows were there.  We assume they were, but that part of the story has been added on over the years.  No talking either, sorry Kermit, but it’s a lovely idea and it points to God’s Dream.

I had a dream this summer.  I wanted to lure in teenagers and young adults to church so that they would find it meaningful to be here on Christmas eve.  I asked one young adult how to make this happen and he said, “make the church a Pokestop!”

For those of you who know what a pokestop is, you know that’s easier said than done. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a place where you can find a wild pokemon and catch it.  What’s a pokemon? It’s a little creature that has been around for 20 years now, a pocket monster, and very cute but fierce when in a fight.

Well, it’s not as old as Star Wars, and certainly not as old as Kermit, but it has a universal appeal.  Who wouldn’t want a cute little creature that is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, smart enough to not need paper training, and loyal to a fault.  Whether it is the famous Pikachu, Far-Fetched or Mr. Mime, they attracted 231 million people in the month of June alone.  What church wouldn’t like that popularity?

Now I could have spent money and bought a lure for Christmas eve, but that seems rather manipulative and sneaky.  And while all of creation is welcome in God’s dream and so that means all creatures are welcome in God’s church, I wouldn’t want Team Rocket to come blasting in here to battle us all.  Fights are the opposite of God’s dream for the world.

But surprisingly enough, when I thought about it, we already are like the game.  The church is what would be a Pokémon centre, a healing place to recharge.  We are also a Pokémon gym, where people can come to train and strengthen their Pokémon and help them level up. 

But wait a minute, we have no pocket monsters here, right? Are you sure?  Remember that they can be found anywhere, they are loyal protectors, and that they need to be trained and given experience in order to grow and mature.  They are quite small, and are always with you wherever you go.  The more you use them, the better they become at strengthening you and protecting you from the trials and worries of life.

Right now, they are desperately needed.  Our year of 2016 has been a rollercoaster for many of our families and friends.  We could use a little more protection, a little more connection, a team to help us work through the challenges we face.  It seems like that peace on earth, that big dream of God’s, is even rarer than ever.  What could help us get through our days?

They are something rather old-fashioned, that’s been around for a long time, that has been a part of many legends and stories, and has been the inspiration of quests and adventures.  One CBC guest said this week that they are desperately needed to help our world survive.  And they’ve been on the endangered species list for a long time.  Disregarded, disrespected, laughed at, sneered at and generally ignored.  But our best stories have been inspired by them. 

Whether it’s Star Wars or the Star of Bethlehem, they have been at the core of the best of humanity and when people are at their worst, they are conspicuously absent.

They are simply put, values.  Good old fashioned values.  There’s lots of them, you probably know some already.  We light candles in advent to four of them: Hope,  Peace, Joy, and Love.  What about Respect? Kindness? Honesty? Compassion?  Some of them have old-fashioned names like Temperance which could help prevent fentanyl deaths, or charity which would help the food banks.  Some of them were used by the ancient knights, like courage or respect for people who are weak or poor or vulnerable.  Our bible is like a pokedex with many examples, and they are all gifts: wisdom, knowledge, faith, leadership and more.

Values are tiny, and hard to see.  They need to be nurtured and trained to get stronger.  They need to be tested with others.   They need encouragement and support.  And they can grow mightily. 

We need them more than ever.  What would the American Election have been like if everyone had used truth?  Look at the difference compassion and hospitality made to the folks fleeing the forest fires last summer?  If God’s dream is to be realised, where greed and anger and resentment and pride will be defeated, it will be because we remembered to reclaim the gifts we have been given, our own collection of loyal defenders and protectors and guides who help us do right.  It will be because we have respected those guides, trained them, healed them, nurtured them and found places to help them get stronger.  It will be because we have learned how to use them to make this world closer to God’s dream of peace on earth, good will to all.  And that is something all of us can rejoice in!

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