1 Peter 2: 2-10, May 10th, 2020
Sermon by Pastor Tim Woodard
“Hear now these words, written in the First letter of Peter, chapter two, verses two thru ten.”
1 Peter 2:2-10
2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation – 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and 5 like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7 To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” 8 and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
“Having heard this ancient writing, let us now consider its meaning for, all of us, on this Mother’s Day, in the year 2020.”
It all began in a mother’s womb, the miracle, the mystery of life itself! It is here that we begin to learn of relationship. Today, being it is Mother’s Day, it seems that this is a good place to begin. Peter was using the analogy of the nourishment which a mother provides as he begins his discourse as well. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation.” /1 Peter 2: 2/ He is, of course, speaking of spiritual nourishment; nourishment which comes to those who follow in the ‘way’ the teachings of Jesus, and those who come to believe in him. Let us, therefore, be like infants in our longing for the spiritual nourishment which God offers to those of us whom have come to believe. From this food, this sustenance of the spirit, we are to build up the body; expanding into a household, a community of faithful people, ready and willing to pass on this nourishment to others!
Each one of us was born and thus have a biological mother. This being the Twenty-First Century, we know that there is more to motherhood than simple biology. Love, love is a core attribute of a mother and the critical ingredient to a child getting the nourishment needed for a healthy adolescence as a child moves toward adulthood. Thankfully, most of us experience loving parents, yet, a great many seek out further enrichment. Many of us need more. We need, we long for a relationship with the source of pure love. Most mothers, most parents love their children… providing all the basics, yet, come up short ‘effectively’ connecting their offspring to the spiritual world. This is true, mainly because they have not found it for themselves. The ‘old’ adage, “You cannot give away that which you do not possess, is all too true.” Therefore, we need to pay heed to our scripture lesson. Each of us, parents, and children, at all stages of life, need to be, to become willing to ask for and accept the compassion, mercy, and love which our God through Christ offers to us. Then as we grow in the Spirit of Christ, we will have something worthy to pass on to others!
Ideally, all parents would be connected to the source of pure, spiritual milk. From this vantage point, this seems self-evident. Surely, competent parents, loving mothers, and fathers, strive to raise their offspring to be filled with the same wherewithal to grow spiritually as they mature – as they themselves have. Ultimately, they become more and more like the early followers of Christ. In the same way, our spiritual lives revolve around our relationship with the “way” of our God, through Christ. There truly is a parallel between the spiritual food a mother offers to an infant and the spiritual nutrition we so need! Peter was clearly speaking through his letters to those in the early Church of the First Century. This message has now passed through the ages and is here for us to read and hear as well; ultimately for us to learn from, in the context of our modern day lives.
In this time, in which we live, we have come to know that once an infant matures and grows into adolescence and then adulthood, they are, as we are, expected to continue to build up their spiritual lives. Then they too will have the means to pass this on… as they begin to build up a family and contribute to the establishment of a community around themselves. They, like all of us will need to learn how to pick up the tools of a spiritual relationship with Christ; and they will also need to answer the question: “How are we to do this?” Once again, they will be looking toward those who have traveled this road ahead of them. They will be looking toward us, you and me and others of our time. What kind of spiritual house are you and I building for the subsequent generations that are to follow us?
Let us take a moment to reflect on where we and where you are – right now. Most of you today, are in your homes or that special place you go to listen to your favorite online broadcast. For me and my staff of helpers, this is the eight time we have gathered in this way, with our sanctuary closed to worshipers. (This COVID-19, a world-wide Pandemic, has caused us to do a lot of things differently.) Each Sunday, six or seven of us gather and piece together our worship broadcast via Facebook, which is then linked to our website at rivieraucc.org for those non-Facebook viewers. This is what we do on Sundays – to stimulate and hopefully expand our spiritual development. As we begin our week with worship, you, and I, we then must continue to expand our spiritual tools. We do this through regularly setting aside time for prayer. What better way to connect to the source of life and love? Another thing many of us need to work at is turning off the news! How many times can we hear the same news! Yes, stay current, but more than an hour of news a day ought to be a limit!
As we build up our connection to the God of our understanding, let us make space for the Holy One to connect with us. To do so, we may need to stop texting, turn off the television and most certainly turn off your cell phone! After some simple quiet time, by yourself, or outside in nature where you may hear a bird or two chirping, or perhaps singing… as they also are enjoying the moment, you may ‘actually’ relax! Remember, no matter how difficult the news is to hear, we each have the choice of stopping, stilling our busy minds, taking a nice deep breathe, and feeling the fulness of God’s love.
This is the first step toward feeling the touch of Mother Nature as She clears the strains of worry, concern, and stress from your body.
Now as your mind slows down and you begin truly hearing the birds singing, you are making space for the holy. Allow the stirring of the wind to blend with the movement of the leaves in the trees or the rustle of the bushes, as your body and mind relax allowing the Spirit of God to touch you. For those of you experiencing changes in the weather: hotter, colder, or rain, sleet, or even snow, we can always find the peace of God in the midst. For us Floridians, we need to practice this when a strong storm blows our way. Remember, the process of meditation is always the same: relax, still your mind, allowing the love of your God to surround you. Relax a bit, wait for it, it is worth ever second – so give it a try.
What type of spiritual priesthood are we, you, and I, being called to? A pandemic, a recession or depression, or a hurricane, tornado, flood, forest fire or earthquake, there is always a need to take on the role of a good neighbor, caregiver, or simply a good mom, or dad, or parent at every station in life… to reach out to someone! Dorothy Day reaches out to us from the past with this thought. “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” What better encouragement than this to move from infancy, to adolescence and ultimately adulthood, as we seek to find an outlet for our newfound spirituality.
Peter wrote to express his support for the new, the young Christian communities which had come under heavy oppression. He was telling them that the Living Spirit of Christ, which they received, would give them the nourishment they needed to continue forward in their call to ministry. The analogy of ‘spiritual milk’ was meant to clarify his believe that they like infants needed to be fed by the Spirit. He wanted to reassure them that God had not and would not let them down, if only they would simply trust that they were ‘precious’ in the eyes of God. Peter speaks to us as well in his letter, as his words are timeless and live on. Our responsibility in this process is to allow ourselves to grow in our faith, grow in our willingness to be and to do all that God desires of us. Those that love us have always wanted the same for you and me. Is this not what we want for our families, our friends. Let us continue forward building up what we can, where we can and as effectively as we can. The younger generations are watching to see how we shall handle our times of growth as well as our times of vulnerability! We must allow ourselves to be moved and motivated by this mystical Spirit and Love of our Awesome God! Through the Spirit we shall grow together and become stronger, thereby building a foundation for the mercy of God, and the grace of the ‘Shepherd’ embodied through the Risen Christ!
Our Mother’s, our Parents, the Matriarchs of our families, they all have a way of bringing folks together. In a world in which we are forced to stay six feet apart, where our traveling is restricted and quarantines of two weeks are routine; it is here that we need to be brought together to celebrate those whom have shared their love, bringing folks like us together at a spiritual plane which is mystical to so many. Those which are coming into our hearts ‘to celebrate’ on this Mother’s Day, they are the models we need in our lives, our families, and our communities! We who still allow ourselves to be ‘like infants’ welcoming the “Spiritual Milk” which nourishes, our yesterdays, our todays and on into our tomorrow’s; let us be the ‘living stones’ bringing strength to the foundation of a spiritual home, the Spirit filled house of God!