Who am I? What is Joy?

This sermon can be heard here

Gate Pa – Year B 3rd Sunday Advent 2017,

Psalm                          Luke 1 - Magnifcat 
First Reading:               Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11             
Second Reading:        1 Thess 5:16-24                 
Gospel:                        John 1:6-8, 19-28               

What I want to say:
To explore how both John Mary and Francis answer the question – Who are you? In light of all that who are we?
Then explore what Francis at least meant by “joy”. – Are we people of joy? What kind of joy do we aspire to?

What I want to happen:
People to reflect on how they describe who they are in light of how John, Mary and Francis answered that question
how are we people of joy?

The Sermon

        1.      Introduction:

ask everyone to take turns to ask each other – Who are you? – how many ways can you answer that question….

       2.      Who are you John?

number of ways we can answer that question
two readings offer different takes
-          our psalm from Luke 1 – Marys song
-          Gospel reading from John 1 about John the Baptiser
lets look at John first
our question comes from Judean elite (Jews) who sent some representatives to John to check him out
their question looking for 2 things
-          who he claims to be – is he calling himself the Messiah
o   tends not to go well with Romans and ends up people dying
o   do without that kind of kafuffle
-          his genealogy – where does he fit in pecking order
o   where many of us started with maybe
o   establishes relationships – why so important for Maori
his answer is interesting
-          offers no genealogy at all
-          instead offers three things
o   “I am not….” – I am not the messiah (Phew)
o   This scripture will tell you something about what I do:
§  Jesus does same thing with another passage from Isaiah
§  Francis kind of did that too – some to that later
o   If you want to really know what I’m about, you’d have to know that I do this: I baptise
if we were to use that formula – how would we answer
o   who are you not?
o   what scripture tells us  something about what you do?
o   what is it that we need to know about what you do?

       3.      Mary’s song

Mary’s song or Magnificat is also her answer to that question – who are you?
very different answer
two components
-          first is answers in relation to who she is in God
o   lowly servant
-          leads her then celebrate all that God is
-          implicit within this song is deep joy because of what God has done for her and all Israel.
-          wonder how many of us give similar answer
o   for some of us we needed more time to get to this kind of answer.

       4.      Francis

want to introduce third person
holds Mary and John together
-          like John sought to live out various passages scripture
o   around poverty and humility
-          like Mary he was filled with joy because of all God did in him and through him – for he was the most wretched of all sinners
talking about Francis of Assisi
-          God’s fool
-          Minstrel to the Lord
“what are the servants of God but his minstrels who should lift up the hearts of people and move them to spiritual joy”

One of his early brothers of brother Pacifico, had been famous master of courtly songs – court minstrel – before joining Francis
-          Francis asked him to go traveling with friars and join their singing of praises to God and their preaching of the Gospels- for singing represented the spirit of joy
o   common to see Francis and his brothers travelling the countryside of Italy, singing and bursting with unrestrained joy
o   renowned for it
o   became a thing – Franciscan joy
-          when another brother seen walking along with his head down and gloomy, Francis rebuked him for such an outward display of sadness
-          suggested that he keep his sorrow between him and God and to pray for a restoration of his soul to the joy of God’s healing
-          “But in front of me and others show yourself as always having joy; for it is not fitting for a servant of God to show sadness outwardly, or to have a clouded face.” (Praying with Francis by Joseph M. Stoutzenberger and John D. Bohrer, p.100)

       5.      Perfect Joy

what is this joy that infected Francis
this joy became associated with him and his brother friars
I want to finish by reading a story from Murray Bodo’s “Tales of St. Francis”.
I offer it as a way for us to think about that question posed to John
-          who are you
-          and John, Mary and Francis answered it.
On this Sunday we celebrate Advent joy
 –  invite you to consider what did Francis mean by joy.
-          how are we people of joy?


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