We live in the moment. And then that moment is in the past. And we move on to new moments in the future,
Many moments in time are forgotten, and even though they remain in our memory, we sometimes have difficultly pulling those memories back into our present. Many of our moments carry meaning for us and we remember them and realize how important those moments have been for us.
My first meaningful moment in time was when I was 2 ½ years old. I have a snapshot in my memory of Pearl Harbor. The news was on the radio and I can remember my parents and sisters huddled around the radio receiving the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I can remember opening the door for a neighbor who came by to talk with my father. Our lives changed from that moment on because my Dad joined the Army.
We have moments of spiritual awaking…profound at times and sometimes gradual as we awaken to those moments when we ask, “who we are in relationship to the creation and the one who gave us life.” Profound moments under the stars, the moon, on the beach, hiking in the mountains. My most profound moment of spiritual awaking was in the desert of West Texas, under a full moon and looking at my footprint in the sand and realizing a relationship with the one who created me and all that was within creation….a moment I have never forgotten and still receive strength from in my inner life.
Today is January 20, 2019. Can any of you remember what you were doing on January 20, 1968? Raise your hand if you do. Goodness, I must be the only one. I was coming down the aisle here at Grace Memorial during the offertory and shouting, “It’s a boy.” Our son, David, was born on 20 January 1968 and he is 51 years old today. He was born 10 days after my ordination to the pristhood here at Grace Memorial on January 10, 1968. Moments that remain.
The bible is all about moments of meaning that were remembered by individuals and the larger community that experienced them. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in today’s reading expresses the gifts of people he has known and personally experienced their various gifts. He writes to the people in Corinth a letter to build up their faith and as that letter is captured by them it was captured for the centuries and is captured for us today. A moment for them becomes part of our on going moments of learning’s from Paul. In John’s Gospel today, Jesus performs his first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Who was there in that moment that put it in writing so we can share something of that meaningful time and find ourselves reliving what Jesus must have been like in a social setting rejoicing with a couple bringing their lives together.
How many of you remember when you were born? That’s a trick question isn’t it. But the stories of our birth are so important to hear from those who were part of your birth, at the hospital, or in a taxi, or maybe even at home. Moments of life, moments of birth, moments of meaning.
And of course we know the pain of loss as we experience the loss of a loved one as they die and give up their last breath. One of the moments of death for me was when I was in Chaplaincy training for a year at Emanuel Hospital. I was on call one night and was called in at 2 o’clock in the morning. I came to the room of a woman who had died and met her husband standing by the bed. I spent about 45 minutes talking with him as he recounted their move during the depression to Coos Bay, Oregon. He came from the East Coast with his bride and ended up in Coos Bay with $2 in his pocket. He worked for years in the timber industry. He talked about his marriage and his children and most of all he talked about his wife,
At the end of our conversation, I offered a prayer with him by her bed. Then he took the wedding band off his wife’s finger and said a simple, “Thank you”. I thought of the marriage service, “until death do us part”.
It was for me a moment of grace in the midst of life and death. It was for me a moment captured in my memory that has helped me understand the meaning of relationships.
We all have moments we remember from conversations with people. One of the profound moments for me in my own learning about the Palestine/Israel conflict was on my first trip to Bethlehem in 1983 with 16 people from St. Marks Cathedral in Seattle when I was serving as Canon Pastor. I was one who thought I knew something about the history and the issues and found out my profound ignorance as we were led around the region by a Palestinian guide. He took us to a glass factory in Bethlehem where a young man about 16 years of age was blowing a glass bottle. I have a memory of his saying to all of us, “I am so glad to meet you, You are Americans and we know that Americans care for correcting injustices of people and you will go home and help us to end the military occupation that we live under.” I have often wondered what happened to that young man as to his continuing his life under military occupation…and our own complicity as Americans in continuing to fund the occupation with our tax money. Again, a moment that led me into many moments of learning and it continues.
Of course, we all have moments that we do not want to remember but are also part of what we experience. I watched 60 Minutes recently on TV and saw a segment of the show which was about a person named Ryan Green with the nickname of Speedo. Ryan is an African American opera singer who in his youth got in trouble and was jailed. He had a teacher that believed in him and his talents and the teacher told him, “Do not let this moment define who you are.” Now, he is a famous opera singer. We all have moments to move beyond and discover how to use them to our advantage rather than our disadvantage.”
We also have our embarrassing moments. What are your most embarrassing moments? One of mine was at a General Convention of the Episcopal Church where a roving reporter asked me about an embarrassing moment. I shared the fact that once when I was leading a Sunday service; I had to go to the bathroom. I forgot to turn my microphone off. I will never forget the faces of the people when I returned to the service. What was more embarrassing is that my story was on the video at the convention and thousands heard my story. Oh well.
I know that each of us is captured by our moments in our national and international history. Some of us have experienced the end of WWII, John F. Kennedy assassination, Martin Luther King assassination, and on and on. A book I am reading now by John Meacham, The Soul of America, expresses the turning points in our Nations history. In his book he speaks to the moment in our national history about a sermon at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The sermon by Martin Luther King was given 6 days before his assassination in Montgomery, Alabama. A quote from that sermon, “we are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,” King said. “And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made: this is the way it is structured.” Tomorrow we honor Martin Luther King as a person who has made a difference in our national story. Moments that we can recognize that can help us to move into our future.
So, how do we embrace our moments that have been there and those yet to come? How do we allow ourselves a way to embrace and nurture our lives with meaningful moments….painful as well as joy filled moments?
I believe it is important to learn how to reflect on our lives as these moments become a part of our past and can soon be forgotten. If we can take a moment of meaning and reflect on it and savor it like we do with good food or a piece of candy we are able to let it become a part of us rather than a lost memory. I am going to leave you with homework. Start with 5 of the most important moments of your life and add to it with your reflections. Before long, if you use pictures from the past, and old letters received and also diaries you will have so many moments to reflect on you will not be able to count them. Reflect and enjoy. Life is short. We need to savor and reflect on our lives, we need to reflect on who we are and challenge what our moments have really meant to us. I like to reflect in prayer and realize that every Eucharist is a meaningful moment that both reminds us of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus but is a moment in time in the here and now that is a sacred moment that moves us into the future…..a future that always includes God.