Saturday, August 23, 2014

We Are God's Work of Beauty

RCL Proper 21A
24 August 2014

Saint Faith's Anglican Church
Vancouver BC

Dear Oskar,

Today is a special day in your life and in the life of your family.  You will baptized and with prayer, water and oil we will mark you as Christ's own forever.  Since you probably won't understand everything that happens today, I have decided to write you a letter.  I can't tell you the meaning of everything that happens today, but I am going to tell you a little bit about one of the stories from the Bible we heard today.  It's a story that you are going to a part of in the years ahead.  One day, when you are older, perhaps you will read these words of mine and understand your role in the story.

We heard the story of the birth of Moses, a boy who would one day become a leader of his people.  His people, the Hebrews, were living as slaves in the land of Egypt.  The leader of the Egyptians, the Pharaoh, was afraid of the Hebrews and tried by one way or another to make the number of Hebrews smaller.  But the Hebrews were strong and they had friends, especially two women named Shiprah and Puah, who tried to help the Hebrews secretly.  But the Pharaoh would not stop his efforts to oppress the Hebrews.

One day a Hebrew woman gave birth to a little boy.  He was beautiful, but the mother knew that she could not keep him.  She made a tiny boat for him and sent him down the river Nile in hopes that he might find a better life.  By chance the daughter of Pharaoh was at the river and she saw the little boat and the baby in it.  She realized that the baby was a Hebrew, but she decided to adopt him as her own son.  She called him, 'Moses', a word that means, 'I took him from the water'.

There is more to this story than I can tell you.  Perhaps, when you are older, you will read more of the story of Moses and how he, with God's help, saved the Hebrews from slavery.  It was not an easy thing for Moses to do, but he knew that God had given him a special work to do.  When God asks us to do something, God always makes sure that we have what we need to do it.

Oskar, every person in the world is like Moses.  Let me tell a few reasons why this is true.  First, every person has beauty inside them.  This is one of God's gifts to all of us.  This beauty takes many forms:

  • Some of us can sing beautiful songs and others love to hear beautiful songs.
  • Some of us can dream wonderful dreams that make our lives better and others can give thanks for those who dream such dreams.
  • Some of us play sports well and others love to watch those sports.
  • Some of us know how to lead people to do good and others follow such leaders to change the world for the better for all people.
  • Some of us know how to love others well and others receive that love and become better people for that love.

These are just some of the forms the beauty God gives to us take.

But it is not enough to have beauty inside us.  What God wants is that we use the beauty within us to make the whole world beautiful.  Each one of us has the opportunity to make the world around us, even if only our family or our neighbourhood, a garden where everyone can flourish as God intends it to be.  But we have to choose to use our beauty; God never forces us to do something we do not want to do.

It's not easy to choose to use our beauty for God's sake.  When we use our beauty for God's sake, it frightens some people who think that God's beauty is not meant to be shared but to be kept only to themselves.  Sometimes they try in one way or another to stop us from sharing.    People who are afraid of sharing God's beauty find all sorts of reasons not to share:

  • Why are you sharing?  No one else is.
  • Why are you sharing?  You won't have enough beauty for yourself.
  • Why are you sharing?  Those people aren't the same as you or I.
  • Why are you sharing?  No one will thank you for it.

The truth is that we all are frightened sometimes by what it means to share God's beauty, but God also helps us overcome our fears.

One of the ways God helps us overcome our fears is by what we are doing today.  Oskar, today you have become a member of the Christian people.  We come from many different places, speak many different languages and have many different ways of understanding how to share God's beauty.  We know the power of fear and so we gather, usually on Sundays but also on other days, to hear the stories about how God has helped people long ago to overcome their fears.  We also share in a simple meal of bread and wine to remember Jesus, the one whom we believe God sent to lead us, just as God sent Moses to lead the Hebrews.  Each time we come together, we ask God to help us overcome our fears so that we can 'do something beautiful for God' and for our neighbours.

Oskar, inside you are many beautiful gifts of God.  Just like Moses you will be taken from the water and adopted by God's family here at Saint Faith's and by God's family throughout the world.  We promise you that we will do our best to help you share the beauty within by sharing the beauty that is within us.  Together, with God's help, we will build gardens, some that will feed our bodies and some that will feed our hearts and souls.

Today we celebrate you as a gift of God.  I hope that you will always know this about yourself and that you will join us, your Christian family, in working with God to make our world even more beautiful than it already is.

In God's love,


(The Rev'd Dr) Richard Geoffrey Leggett
Saint Faith's Anglican Church
7284 Cypress Street
Vancouver BC  V6P 5M3

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