In nomine Jesu!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God” and the Word was Yes. And so it will be at the end of time. That’s God’s Promise.

Yet we live in a world that exists in between times, between God’s beginning Yes and God’s final Yes. The word we hear most often in this world is no or, at best, maybe. Every no is painful. Every maybe leaves us insecure, wobbly on our feet. We long for security, for a life that is secure and pain-free. We long to live in a peaceful world where the defining word is always Yes. That is why we’ve come here.

Tonight we hear a lot of words mostly from our forebears: the writers of Scripture, the composers of song — who have also lived in “in-between times” like ours; who have also experienced our same longings and needs. Tonight we hear how, in the midst of all the no’s and maybe’s of their lives they heard God’s Word Yes to them and trusting that Word found hope and joy and a peaceable life. We hear their words tonight; we sing their songs tonight with the hope that in them we can hear God’s Yes and gain the courage to live a sure and certain, free and hope-filled, life.
Tonight we hear what we always hear: of failing and falling; of the distancing of mortals
from God and from each other another. Of the shame and sadness that follows.

But we also hear what we never hear: Of a God who says Yes to us even when we are failing and falling; of a God who says Yes to us by making and keeping Promises; of a God who says Yes to us by never leaving us to our own devises. A God will not consign us to exist with nothing but maybe or no.

Tonight we hear what we always hear: of human futility and folly; of the laughter we use to cover our disappointment and mask our pain.

But we also hear what we never hear: the affirming melody of an infant’s squalling; the hopeful song of a mother’s laugh, amazed by what seems a biological impossibility; astounded to life with more than maybe or no.

Tonight we hear what we always hear: of war and violence, of “boots of tramping warriors;” of “garments rolled in blood.” Tonight we hear what we always hear: that today, when it comes to our safety and surety, there are more maybe’s than ever before.
But we also hear what we never hear: of a promised future and a peaceable kingdom where lions lie down together with lambs and neither will maybe be eaten. So tonight we pray that that world may soon come, that Gods Yes will be final and this waste of our wraths and sorrows true will be no more.

Tonight what we hear what we always hear, nearly every night of our now-normal life: of murderous tyrants and authoritarian leaders with vindictive designs and dreams of domination; and of simple, ordinary families driven to venture by paths through unknown perils to places not their own; of simple, ordinary people who, when they reach their destination, find themselves unwelcome, dispossessed, despised and rejected with no place to rest for their labor, with no place to call a home.

But we also hear tonight what we never hear: of angels singing and the simple and the wise running to be gathered and welcome by the God become a child for us, a child who is God’s promised Yes for us, a child who gathers us home.

Tonight, amidst all those incessant maybe’s; tonight above all those painful no’s, listen for the
Word that is God, listen for the Word become flesh for us who is God’s consistent Yes to you.

Amandus J. Derr
Saint Peter’s Church
In the City of New York