Homily notes from Saturday Evening, November 7th, after the events of November 5th at Fort Hood:
(Please note, the homily was preached extemporaneously, and these are recollections recorded on Tuesday afterwards.)
Behind me stand 13 crosses and 13 candles, representing 13 people who lost their lives last Thursday at the hand of Major Nidal Malik Hasan. Those of you who were here in 1991 remember Luby’s, and the specter of the same experience looms over us all. It looms because it always hangs over this community. We are a community of warriors, and the prospect of sudden death is never far from us. Everyone knows what it means when the government van pulls up to a house and a chaplain steps out. No one wants it to be their house.
And doubly this time, because this kind of action is not supposed to happen here. It’s supposed to happen over there, far away, and our men and women in uniform are supposed to leave to fight these kinds of things, and here it is in our own back yard. We feel undone.
In tonight’s first reading from Ezra the people of God were undone. Ezra was the King of Persia’s cub-bearer, a Hebrew, who was called to take a remnant of the Hebrews in exile back to the promised land. When he got there the city of God, Jerusalem, and the Temple of God in Jerusalem, lay in ruins. We lay in ruins.
In the second lesson from Revelation of John, we read about an almost dreamlike horror, a city known for its immorality, undone in a day. We are undone.
In tonight’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew the disciples are rowing against the wind across the Sea of Galilee. We are rowing against the wind. The chaotic waters represented to them the chaos that lays always just below the surface of life, it’s the chaos that has broken out into our world today.
I read the Gospel lesson in English and Spanish, and of course in both Jesus comes walking across the waters of chaos and says, “Do not fear, it is I.” In the particular version of Spanish a little nugget is revealed that is hidden in English. In the Spanish it reads not “it is I,” but “I am.” (Not, “soy yo,” but, “yo soy.”) “I AM,” where have we heard that before? Moses, standing before the God of his fathers in the burning bush, running from Pharaoh and his past life, hears God appear and give him His name as “I AM.” When Jesus walks across the chaos of life into the boat and the hearts of the disciples He declares that “I AM” has shown up.
And that is our hope this day. In the midst of our chaos God has shown up. He has not abandoned us to the power of evil. He has not skipped out when we needed Him most. He walks with us through these dark days, giving us grace for the moments and peace in the midst of trouble. What is more, He gives us the grace to reach out to others who have not our hope and care for them.
Yes, this is Good Friday, but Sunday is coming. In that hope care for those around you, and let me care for you!