Rev. Katie Holicky
June 7, 2020
First Sunday After Pentecost, Year A
 
In the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Amen.
 
Over the last few months, my husband Phil and I have come to know our neighborhood rather well. We live close to Back Cove in Portland, and due to the high usage the trail that we typically relish this time of year has felt too crowded as of late. At first, I lamented that I couldn’t watch the progress of the baby cranes growing and learning to fish in the shallows of the cove. The feel of the ocean air enveloping me as I watch those sweet awkward cranes trundle about. And yet, over time I’ve settled into the gift of noticing new things in the same places as day after day we have woven ourselves in and around our neighborhood.
 
This time of getting some fresh air and connecting with creation has become a spiritual practice of mindfulness… of noticing. By way of how we are all living these days, I have to believe I am not the only one discovering this practice in their life. And what have you noticed as creation has bloomed over these last long weeks of spring?
 
Have you noticed the trees are now full? …the smell of lilacs through your cracked windows or on neighborhood walks? Or… maybe the early morning sun stirs you to activity earlier than the months passed. There is something about this season of spring melting into summer that draws my heart to this story of creation today. So, it was such a lift of my spirits to see the Genesis scripture before us.
 
And when reading I found that there was something in particular … that while I have always loved about this story… stood out to me in a rather palpable way… perhaps in light of all that has been unfolding over the last few weeks.
 
When God finally gets to the work of creating humankind…. God is not at all cryptic about people being made in the image of God. In fact four times in two verses it is named that humankind is made in the image or likeness of God; “humankind in our image, according to our likeness”, “So God created humankind in God’s image”, “in the image of God God created them”. And God doesn’t stop there in getting the importance of this across… “God blessed them”, and it is only after humankind is created in the image of God that God says it is, “very good”.
 
This is the very first thing we are told about humanity. We are ALL, all of us, made in the image of God. I find this no small thing. It is as if God knew just how our human brokenness could direct us to forget this. Look, I’ll be the first to admit I have not remembered this truth the way I believe God would like me to. Especially in the last weeks as our nation confronts not just a pandemic and economic crisis, but also protests as our unheard siblings of color cry out for justice.
 
I have certainly forgotten that EVERY body is made in God’s image as my emotions, my anger and lament, are stoked by the headlines and my Facebook feed. I am reminded just how easy it is for me to fall short in remembering this truth of who resides in each of us. No matter what I, or any of us, believe… no matter who you find yourself sympathizing with….many of us, at times myself included, are falling short… missing the mark.
 
This might be one of the hardest things we do as Christians… It is the origin of the thread of loving our neighbors as ourselves. And in watching our local, national, and global neighbors in the last week I am feeling the importance of this tread of our faith in a very deep way.
 
You see, this call to see the image of God in everyone seems to go against our animal inclination to tribalism. We LOVE our tribes. Our sports teams, those with perceived similar ideals, like political parties, our denominations or varied faith traditions, those who look just like us. We all have connections to tribes, and for some of us those tribes give us the privilege of comfort and ease in life that others are not afforded.
 
And the tension arises when God calls us back to this story… this reminder that we ALL are made in God’s likeness…. Making it a bit harder to honor some of those tribes we participate in. How do we balance this tension? How do we grow in the ways we need to stand in this truth of God in all people, and in doing so step closer to the love and justice God longs for in this broken world?
 
I find wholeness in the timelessness of the Gospel. The Great Commission. The sending out in the name of the Holy Trinity… which we celebrate today. In this powerful moment of Jesus’ words from his final sermon to the disciples, I am so deeply appreciative of their raw humanity… their doubt. And in their doubt Jesus still commissions them! Sent out to teach and baptize in the name and of Trinity, and to teach by way of their own actions the commandment to see God in everyone… to love our neighbors as ourselves.
 
Anyone feeling overwhelmed or unsure yet …. Not sure what to do… here is the thing …. Jesus told them…“I am always with you”. “I am always with you”. You see I think when we find ourselves looking at the events of life that stand before us… the daunting work of addressing the many systems that do not actually respect the human dignity of every person…. we forget how to even pick up our pack to strive for the summit. JESUS IS ALWAYS WITH US. When we have forgotten how … or don’t know… we MUST remember these two truths. We are ALL made in God’s image…we must notice this as we do the beauty of summer, and we are being called to work on ourselves so that we may actually honor that. And we are sent out in the Trinity… knowing that Jesus is ALWAYS with us. We don’t walk alone… and yet we are called to walk. Let us do so together… in the name of the God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
AMEN.