Nothing Will Be Impossible
Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26; Luke 1:26-38; 46b-55 and Practicing Peace in Times of War by Pema Chödrön
Sunday December 20th, 2020
Good morning on this fourth Sunday of Advent! It is a gift to be speaking to you live from a most spectacular wintry landscape along Bear Creek right here in South Boulder. Thank you for being here today.
As we come to this time in our gathering, I invite you to take a deep breath and let yourself be here as fully as you are able. And as you are so moved, I invite you to join me in a spirit of prayer and centering. God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen. (Psalm 19 verse 14)
I continue to feel how much it means that we keep showing up for one another. Because in some ways we have to work harder to do it. We don’t have to travel, but we actually have to be more focused, more present, because even though we are sharing an experience, we are at a distance and we can’t even hug. Some of us are so weary that we wonder how we can possibly make it to the end of this.
Last week I just couldn’t show up in person. My body basically gave out and I wasn’t well, so for just the second time in all of my ministry, it wasn’t possible for me to lead worship. I managed to get myself here to give Phillip my worship folder where he read every word beautifully. What a beautiful worship service it was and what a perfect Christmas pageant Leanne and Heather and our kids put together. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! And thank you to those who reached out to express concern. I was compelled to take seriously the need for my body to rest.
And I know I am not the only one who is worn out, sapped and low. As you might imagine, those of us with the privilege of this vocation have some of the inside scoop on how people are doing and I know many of you are struggling in your own way too, navigating sick siblings, grieving family, struggling grandkids, hurting loved ones, isolation, a deprivation of dreams, you are enduring a lot. We are in a place that feels like a valley of the shadow of death, a tunnel without even so much as a pin light, wandering in the wilderness without a map.
There is a palpable impatience among us. We seem to have lost patience with the idea that these nine months could be a time of growth, infused with lessons learned, insights gained, capacities created that will serve us later. It’s not that this isn’t true. To be sure, we have been adapted quickly. But now it’s as if we find ourselves a tad exasperated. Learning, moving, growing, shifting, bending is one thing, but breaking- is another thing. Many of us are begging God/Universe/Spirit to tell us, at what point does the deep dark night turn to dawn?
That is the question the Women’s Group posed to me for this sermon today. Where is the light at the end? When will a new day dawn?
And while I don’t know all that awaits, and I definitely don’t have clarity about all that will be asked of us or all that the Spirit might be doing, but I want you to know today that I really do believe that there is a light at the end, that there is a ray in sight, because we are turning... I don’t mean this in a metaphorical way- what I mean is that we have arrived at a magical place, that is pregnant, something different is in gestation, we are at a tipping point.
The fact that we were forced to stop, forced to see the fractures of the system we have created, forced to see the consequences of a for-profit healthcare system, forced to see the truth that our system punishes the poor, the disabled and those in need of mental healthcare. We can no longer say we don’t know. The graveyard of despair is where we are right now, since this virus has taken 300,000 lives.
But it is forcing us to evolve, if we will but come.
It turns out, throughout the history of life on planet earth, viruses have played an essential role in forcing evolution. In 2016, a Stanford University study discovered that at least 1/3 of all adaptations in humans were propelled by viruses. And now here we are, once again, living through a forced evolution. The question is not whether we will be changed by this, but how? Which is where the hope, good news, the light at the end, the ray in sight comes in. We are at a magical place that is pregnant because we are at a tipping point.
University of Pennsylvania Social Scientist Damon Centola has studied change and contends that when 10, 15, or even 20% of a population welcomes an idea, movement is extremely slow, but when just a few more, just a handful more, are willing, quickly everything is different.
For a long time, we thought that significant change could only happen when over half of us are ready, but that 51% is kind of a myth. What is required for the burst of light, the ray of a whole new way, the twist toward the turning, needs just one quarter of us on board. And then suddenly, there will be an explosion of change.
And that is where we are right now- a tipping point where nothing will be impossible. This year sped up what is wrong, which means it could also speed up what is right! Enough of us believe that we set this up and we can set up something else. Enough of us understand that when the Pentagon spends more than $2 billion every day, more than $1 million every minute, on endless wars, we can no longer accept the mantra that there isn’t enough money for what is needed, in education, healthcare and earth friendly transportation. Enough of us are learning the history to know the hypocrisy of the war on drugs where even here in Colorado White men now profit from the very thing that has Black men still enslaved in prison cells. Enough of us are hearing the cry for help when we learn that since 1970, North America has lost almost 3 billion birds. Enough of us know that on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, we can choose a freedom that comes with the responsibility to keep our kids safe.
We are a tipping point, where despite what you hear in the corporate funded media, there are more of us who believe in justice and love. This is a time where nothing will be impossible because enough of us have said, enough!
For nothing will be impossible with God- that’s what the angel said to Mary, the mother of Jesus. With God, nothing will be impossible. And I think maybe that is part of why this powerful story of light coming into the world, why this is included- not because Mary felt that she could do anything, but she knew God needed her to act like it. Let me say that again. We get this detail, not necessarily because Mary felt that she could do anything, but she knew God needed her to act like she could. The Universe needed her to say yes, even while she was shaking inside.
We don’t need to wait until we feel like we are capable or ready to accomplish most anything, instead what if we just acted like it? What if we got out of bed each day and acted as if nothing was out of reach? What if that’s what the Universe needs from all of us right now? Get behind me Satan, nothing will be impossible!
“Here I am” I can do anything.
Mary’s role in the greater vision, her part in a sort of forced evolution was this: live right now, as if nothing will be impossible, get up tomorrow and act as if anything is possible, plan for next week, next month, next year as if nothing will be impossible- as if you are birthing a whole new world. Even if you feel lowly or unworthy or unready. That is what is needed. That is what God is asking of her and of us. Leave fear behind and be open to magic, to being an agent of something bigger, to being an instrument for a movement that is needed in this moment. Live as if nothing will be impossible.
As we heard from, Pema Chödrön, being open to the continually changing, impermanent, dynamic nature of our own being and of reality, allows us to increase our capacities and to shift how we see what is possible.
And there are signs in the sky! You may have already read that tomorrow night, December 21, the winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will get so close that they will “spoon” among the stars and appear to us as a double planet. This closeness is called a conjunction and it happens every 20 years, but this one is so wondrous that some are calling it a Great Conjunction. It is at the very least extraordinary. They haven’t gotten this close since 1226. Maybe it means nothing…or maybe it means something?
Beloved ones, there is a light at the end, a ray of hope in sight. We are at a magical place that is pregnant because we are at a tipping point where nothing will be impossible because enough of us have said enough!
The task for all of us now living through another forced evolution is this: act as if anything is possible. In the words of Ralph Bahro, “When the forms of an old culture are dying, the new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure.” So, share and try wild ideas for love. Deploy experiments in justice. Venture to what they told us was too idealistic. Take risks to tell new stories about what could be. Build relationships that are shocking. A new day is dawning and you don’t need to change anything about yourself, all of us simply must be open to the change that is coming, let us be willing to be insecure.
Fear not! Leave the fear behind and be open to magic, to being an agent of something bigger, to being an instrument for a movement that is needed in this moment. We are at a tipping point. Let us put our impatience, our weariness, and pain to our power. We are alive for a great conjunction! Let us live as if nothing will be impossible…and that’s how it all becomes possible. May it be so!