|Christmas Day, Year A||December 25, 2016||Christmas Day, 2016||Isaiah 52:7-10, Hebrews 1:1-4, Psalm 98, John 1:1-14|
|The Eve of the Nativity||December 24, 2016||Christmas Eve||Isaiah 9:2-7, Luke 2: 1-20|
|Third Sunday in Advent, Year A||December 11, 2016||Third Sunday of Advent, Year A||Psalm 146:4-9, Matthew 11:2-11|
|Second Sunday in Advent, Year A||December 4, 2016||Second Sunday of Advent, Year A||Matthew 3:1-12|
|First Sunday in Advent, Year A||November 27, 2016||First Sunday of Advent, Year A||Isaiah 2:1-5, Ps 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44|
|Christ the King Sunday, Year C||November 20, 2016||Christ the King Sunday, Year C||Jeremiah 23:1-6. Ps 46, Colossians 1:11-20, Luke 23:33-43|
|Twenty Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||November 13, 2016||Proper 28, Year C||Malachi 4:1-2a, Ps 98, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13, Luke 21:5-19|
|Charles Sydnor’s sermon, Nov. 6, 2016, All Saints||November 6, 2016||All Saints, Year C||Luke: 6: 20-31|
|Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||October 30, 2016||Proper 26, Year C||Isaiah 1:10-18, Psalm 32, Luke 19:1-10|
|Twenty Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||October 23, 2016||Proper 25, Year C||II Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14|
|Twenty Second Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||October 16, 2016||Proper 24, Year C||Luke 18:1-8, Genesis 32: 22-31|
|Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||October 9, 2016||Proper 23, Year C||2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c; Luke 17:11-19|
|Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||October 2, 2016||Proper 22, Year C||II Timothy 1:1-14|
|Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||September 25, 2016||Proper 21, Year C||Luke 16:19-31|
|Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||September 4, 2016||Proper 18, Year C||Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-33|
Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C
Sermon Date:August 7, 2016
Scripture: Genesis 15:1-6, Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16, Proper 14, Year C
Liturgy Calendar: Proper 14, Year C
"Hokule’a" on a worldwide cruise
“And Abraham set out, not knowing where he was going.”
Abraham set out for one reason and one reason only.
He set out because God asked him to set out.
When we are born, we have set out on a journey through this lifetime, not knowing where we are going.
We don’t have any idea where life will take us. Sometimes we get lost, traveling blindly across a wide track of wild and windy sea in the middle of a moonless night, feeling helpless and hopeless.
Maybe the disciple Thomas felt this way right before Jesus was betrayed and arrested when he said to Jesus,
“Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
And Jesus says to him, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
We Christians know Jesus, and love him.
And so we want to follow him, even when we cannot see where he is leading us.
And so, as an act of faith, we follow him, because we trust him.
Parenthood is an act of faith.
To bring a new little person into this world is a hopeful act.
And to have a child baptized is also an act of hope—because it brings a child into a whole family of people who are traveling along the Way that Jesus has laid out for us in hopes that the child will want to travel that way as well, and will come to know and to love God.
Today, Kelly and Dominic have brought Samuel to church to be baptized.
Samuel, look at all of the members of your family who have traveled to be here with you today.
Look at your godparents. Your godparents, Kevin, Tammy, and Madeline are going to be your special friends, the ones who remember this day of your baptism, the ones who pray for you every day, and hope that you will grow up to know God, and love God, and follow God with all your heart, even when you can’t figure out where you are going.
Look at all the people here at church, your new family.
Today, through his baptism, Samuel “will become a member of the family of God, the Church, forever,” as our prayer book puts it.
Samuel is getting adopted into a family that has as many members as the stars of heaven and as the numberless grains of sand by the seashore—he now joins Christians all over the world as part of the family of God.
And we are going to travel along with you, Samuel, and help you along your way, and do all we can to support you in your life in Christ.
Speaking of traveling, have any of you ever heard of the Hokule’a, the Hawaiian canoe traveling the world right now? In the Hawaiian language, Hokule’a means star of gladness, and and in the night sky, this is the star Arcturus.
This double hulled, sixty-one foot catamaran style canoe, lashed together by rope, is built the way the Polynesian navigators who traveled the Pacific thousands of years ago built their canoes. And its twelve crew members are navigating across the oceans by an ancient system of navigation known as Polynesian wayfinding.
I got to see this canoe during the month of May when it docked in Alexandria, Virginia, one of its stops in its four year journey around the world. You can follow the journey of the Hokule’a at the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s website, http://www.hokulea.com/.
Just this week, the Hokule’a and its crew of twelve made it to Nova Scotia, the farthest north it has ever been, and soon now it will head back home, back down the East Coast, through the Panama Canal, to the Galapagos Islands, Tahiti, and at last back home to Hawaii.
One crew member at a time serves as navigator, and stays up, with only catnaps here and there for twenty-one to twenty-two hours at a stretch.
The navigator of the Hokule’a has a lot to do! This description of the navigator’s job comes from an NPR report on the Hokule’a back in May when the canoe was docked in Alexandria.
The navigator’s place is at the back corner of the Hokule’a, standing at all times with feet wide apart on the deck, feeling the motion that then canoe makes as it climbs over the waves. The navigator internalizes this motion as the rhythm, the pulse of the canoe. And when that rhythm changes, the navigator knows that conditions have changed or that the canoe has gotten off course.
The navigators on the Hokule’a also use something called the star compass to help them navigate. They know when certain stars rise and set, and they also know the direction of the waves, the light that the sun makes on the waves.
Birds are also an important part of navigating with the star compass. The navigators know the habits of the sea faring birds, who can lead them to land, even when they can’t see the land.
Here’s something else I want you to know about the Hokule’a.
The Hokule’a also has a sister canoe, the Hikianalia, named after the star Spica, the companion star of Arcturus. These two stars rise together in the night sky over Hawaii.
The Hikianalia is built like the Hokule’a, but it also carries some modern technology, like electric motors powered by panels that convert sunlight to electric energy. The canoe also carries meteorological equipment. The crew of the Hikianalia has a navigator who knows how to use all of the technology that the canoe carries in addition to knowing Polynesian wayfinding and the star compass.
When the Hokule’a left Hawaii at the beginning of its worldwide voyage, the Hikianalia left with it, two stars rising together, leaving familiar land behind and launching into the endless sweep of the Pacific Ocean. And at the end of the voyage, when the Hokule’a returns to Hawaii, the Hikianalia will come into harbor at Hokule’a’s side.
But where has the Hikianalia been for the rest of this voyage? The website simply says that the Hikianalia has her own sail plan for part of the world wide voyage.
Now I want to ask you a question.
Do you remember when Jesus is talking to the disciples before his crucifixion and death and he makes a promise to them?
He says to them that when he goes away, he is going to send them the Paraclete, the Advocate, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit to be with them. “And when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth,” Jesus tells the disciples.
So here’s a secret I want you to know.
The Hikianalia has been sailing, unseen, somewhere in the vicinity of the Hokule’a through the trackless void of the oceans. Like the Holy Spirit, unseen and ever near, the Hikianalia can come to the rescue of the crew of the Hokule’a in the case they should find themselves in any sort of trouble they just can’t navigate.
Today, Samuel will be buried in the life giving waters of baptism, buried with Christ in his death. By this baptismal water, Samuel will share in the resurrection, and through it he will be reborn by the power of the Holy Spirit, who will open God’s paths of goodness through the consuming vastness of the seas that we must all sail in our lifetimes.
When Samuel leaves here today, sets sail out of this safe and familiar harbor, the Holy Spirit, his Hikianalia, will set sail beside him. Soon the Hikianalia will vanish from Samuel’s sight, but it will always be nearby ready to come alongside as the guide that Samuel will need throughout his life.
If we live long enough, we will at some point find ourselves lost at sea, and even with everything we know about navigating through our lives, we will be stuck out in the middle of the ocean, becalmed, with dying of thirst under a relentlessly burning sun.
And that’s when the Holy Spirit, our Hikianalia, will come alongside, to lead us to our respite on some island nearby that we couldn’t see or reach on our own.
And in these ports we find people worshipping, breaking bread and praying together, proclaiming God’s Good News by their love and care for one another—God’s heavenly places here on this earth where people love their neighbors as themselves, and where everyone strives for justice and peace for all, and where each person respects the dignity of every human being.
And then at the last, when our voyages are done, the Holy Spirit, our Hikianalia, will come right alongside again, and accompany us into that harbor that we have been seeking, that better country that we desire.
We can only barely see it now, faint in the distance. But there the Holy Spirit will lead us, “to all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude that no one can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom, in this Lord Jesus and our baptisms, we forevermore are one.”
“Godparents or sponsors” in More than Words. The Seabury Press, 1958.
“Christmas Festival of Lessons and Carols: The Bidding Prayer,” page 39. The Book of Occasional Services. Church Publishing Co., NY. 1995, 2000.