Sunday, January 08, 2017

and so are you

At the Church of the Holy Apostles today, I heard a wonderful sermon. We were celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany (which actually fell on Friday), the day of the Magi. The preacher did two things beyond the usual reflections on giving and adoring. First, she reminded us that the Massacre of the Innocents was part of the story, too. It's how Herod responds to what the Magi tell him of a newborn king; we ought not to assume we are ourselves all Magus and no part Herod, able to take in the Christmas message with joy and not fear. Then she told us a story, from a children's book she'd recently learned of, named The old turtle and the broken truth. (It's by Douglas Wood, appeared in 2003.)
You can hear the story here (I found the images, by Jon J. Muth, here.) The upshot is that a truth which fell from the sky but broke in two, caused much strife until the two parts were reunited. The part that caused the strife, paradoxically, was inscribed with the words You are loved. It made its bearers feel warm and happy, and keen to share it with those they knew - but not with others, who, in turn, coveted it themselves. The missing piece bore the words and they are too, and the preacher found a way to tell the story where it was clear even from her delivery that you are loved is incomplete, if true and wonderful, and completed as you are loved and they are too. That's how love is.
I'm sure I wasn't the only one moved nearly to tears by this. It fits Epiphany's promise that the savior comes for all, and the preacher's encouragement that we live out God's love widely. It resonates with my conviction, learned from being loved and loving, that we are all made for love. But, like so much else these days, it also names the ache of our moment. That love must be universal, that you are loved isn't undermined but mysteriously completed by and so are they, is something the advocates of the impending new regime don't see, or won't. Have they themselves never known love? It breaks my heart.

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