January 6, 2008
The Rev. Robert C. Granfeldt
|667 Mount Road, Aston, PA 19014 610-459-2013
|Small Parish - Big Heart - Inclusive
Come and worship with us!
All are welcome!
To serve the
To grow the
What I have to say, this morning is less a sermon than – I don’t know – maybe a “musing.”
(if there is such a word), of my contemplation of this day and the Season we’re entering, and
of my thoughts about what lies ahead.
I have no doubt some of you have grown tired of my emphasis on the 12 days of Christmas –
and that’s understandable. It’s also okay.
But that emphasis, and our celebration last evening – the service, the burning of the
greens, the caroling, the “feast”, the two cakes (the King’s Cake and the Twelfth Night cake,
representing two shades of tradition) – should serve as a reminder of something that, I
think is very important.
It’s about perspective.
It’s about time.
Our perspective, as human beings, you see, is narrow and very short.
We live lives, on average, of about 75-80 years. For most of us, our memories begin at –
what, age 3 or 4, if that early? So at the end of a very long life, we may have a perspective
that spans 70, 80 – at the very most, 100 years, if our memory is very, very good, and still
If we add to our personal memories the stories we heard from our parents and grandparents
about their own lives – insofar as we were paying attention, and insofar as we’ve held on to
those stories and integrated them into our lives, made them part of ourselves – we wind up
with a perspective that may span a century to a century and a half, with much of that period
second-hand, at best and not really very dependable!
And all the while, another phenomenon is occurring, as well, as current events tend to
reach back, too, and color our earlier memories. A simple example: How often do we see on
TV a clip of an old show from, say, the fifties, and it takes a second to recall – “oh, yes! We
didn’t used to have color TV!” If you’re like me (and old enough) I suspect you, too, may
remember two red-heads that come to mind – Howdy Doody and Arthur Godfrey – both of
whom I recall seeing in vivid color, from a time before color TV!
We get used to what we see and do, today, and we let slip in our memories the fact that
things weren’t always as they are! Thus, projecting backward, the new replaces the old as
the norm, and the norms eventually slip away – even within the span of our own memory! So
the perspective with which we view the world, from which we experience things, is limited,
And how much more true that is in respect to our faith and our worship! How much more
true that is in our relationship to a tradition that goes back two thousand years – so far
beyond both our memory and our ken!
Our limited perspective leads us to think that what we know, today, is the way things have
always been! That the way things are, now, is the way things are supposed to be!
Our limited perspective keeps us from seeing the long, often slow, steady, but inexorable
pace of change that is the mark of reality – and especially of a reality like the faith, born two
thousand years ago, of a parent faith that was a thousand or more years old even then! Our
limited perspective keeps us from seeing that within the inexorable movement of time on
that scale are bound to be mistakes, sidetracks, corrections that may obscure the
inexorability – but never stop it!
Such were my musings as I prepared for last evening’s celebration; such are my musings as
I prepare for each of our celebrations, each of our seasons, each of our years.
But my musings take me not only to the past, but to the future – which is, of course, where
the past inevitably leads.
And my musings inevitably take me to one of the most things the followers of Christ need to
keep in mind: that, to overcome our narrow perspective, we need always to hold our history
in view and we need always to look to the future – at the same time!
We need always to cling to what is right and good and true from our past that must be either
preserved for, or translated into, the future.
And we need always to strive to recognize the errors of the past, and be ready to correct
them for the future.
We need always to study and beware of the past so that we can preserve and cling to the
best of what was, while at the same time be ready and willing to discard the mistakes, and
correct the errors.
We need always to be looking to the future, seeking for ways to continue our past into it, in
ways that can make the best of our past understandable and relevant to the future, while at
the same time being open both to new understandings and to new – sometimes surprisingly
new – expressions of the old.
These are my musings as we enter into this Season of the Epiphany, when we explore the
ways in which the person who was born into the world on Christmas Day revealed to the
world the reality of the God who made himself human so that human beings might come to
know God; the God who entered into our lives, our experience, so that our lives and our
experience, and even our death – especially our death! – could be taken up into God; the
season in which we look at how the reality of God was made to shine forth in Jesus Christ.
And these are my musings as we begin a new year in the life of this parish. These are my
musings as this parish prepares to move into the next, new phase of its life, together.
And my musings give birth to my prayer for you as we begin this oh-so-important year in the
life of this parish, and in all the coming years:
That you will hold always to what is good and true from the two thousand year faith you’ve
inherited; that you will cherish it, protect it and transmit it.
That you will, at the same time, watch always for, and recognize, those practices or beliefs in
which the faith may have strayed or erred, and no matter how familiar they may seem, reject
That you will watch always for those practices or beliefs or understandings that may have
served the faith well in their time, but have now become outdated, outmoded – in some
cases, in the light of new understandings or new discoveries – and no matter how “safe” or
comfortable they may seem, move on from them; discard them.
That you will remember that the Epiphany – the showing forth of God in God’s world, and to
God’s world – has not ended! That you will remember that God has been revealing Godself
from the first moment of creation, to this moment, and will continue to the end of time; that
God’s self-revelation is eternal!
That you will remember that there is always more to learn about God; always more to learn
about God’s will; always more to learn about our place in God’s will.
That you will remember never to be complacent in the short perspective that is our lot as
short-lived, mortal beings, but seek, always, new understandings of ancient truths, and new
truths emerging from old understandings – and from the new discoveries that human kind
constantly seeks, that draw us into ever new and so often surprising truths and
And above all – that you will remember to follow the lead of the one we worship; that you will
remember, always, to let God lead – not you!
In the Name of the one whose reality shines forth constantly in the world, calling us to
perceive it. Amen.