Miracles

On February 26, 2019, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Miracles Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Let us dwell together in peace; and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. And now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. Today’s gospel readings are miracle stories. I don’t take either of them literally but see them as allegories. […]

Miracles
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Let us dwell together in peace; and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. And now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

Today’s gospel readings are miracle stories. I don’t take either of them literally but see them as allegories. The miracle in each story is someone’s willingness to confront a crisis, to do what could be done, even if it seemed inadequate to the need.

Before we revisit those gospel stories, I want to share another miracle story.
Loretta Mary Aiken was a star of vaudeville and in the twilight of her career was known as a comic who was frequently featured on television variety and talk shows. Of course, she didn’t go by Loretta then; in show business she was known as Jackie Moms Mabley.

Moms was a successful African American performer in the days of Jim Crow. But that isn’t her biggest miracle.
She’d give bits of wisdom that had hidden meaning. Warning adults to keep their eye on what’s really going on in politics, she joked, “I tell children crossing the street – Damn the lights, watch the cars. The lights ain’t never killed nobody.”

But she’s probably best known for joking about her attraction to younger men. She’d say, “If you ever see me with my arms around an old man, I’m holding him for the police.”

Moms joked about liking younger men, but in reality, she was as queer as a Jerry Herman musical. She had children, and took the name “Mabley” from an early boy friend, so may have been bisexual or just didn’t come out until later. A male dancer shared a dressing room with Moms for the run of a theatrical production…he shared the dressing with Moms and Moms’ girlfriend.

But Moms was also a gender bender. She wore house coats on stage, but in the dressing room and after a show, she’d put on slacks and a silk shirt and a fedora hat, and with her lady on her arm, go out for the evening. Her friends called her Mr. Moms.

She was an African American in a society where white people held all the power.
She was a woman in a business where men had most of the power.
And she was queer in a society that at the time criminalized same-gender love and attraction.

She faced racism, homophobia, misogyny…she faced them all and lived her life her way and thrived in her career. That’s a miracle.

She faced her fears, faced the storms in life, faced perceived limitations…and because she faced them, she was able to overcome some of them.

That’s the point of today’s stories from Matthew’s gospel.

In the first story, we a small lunch of fish and bread…fish tacos basically, feeding a great multitude. As I said, I don’t take that literally. A sack lunch didn’t magically feed thousands of people, but someone making an effort in spite of unfavorable odds, that’s a miracle.

I may be beaten, but it will not be by my fears. That decision is a miracle, and it’s a decision we can make.

In the second story, Peter jumps out of a boat and walks on water, at least for a few steps.

People don’t walk on water. AirOTic almost makes me believe that people can walk on air, but walking on water is not a thing.

Walking on water isn’t the miracle.
The miracle is that Peter got out of the boat.
He left the familiar and jumped into the unknown. And he failed. But that he tried was the miracle.

He got overwhelmed. He gave in to fear. He started to sink. But not before he tried the impossible.

I’ve seen some of you do that.

When you tried medical treatments, with no guarantee of their working but you gave it a fighting chance, that was a miracle. That was the birth of hope, maybe in a manger of despair, in a place where hope had been told there was no room for it, but still you found a place and a way for it to be born. No matter what happened later, you knew the joy of hope come to life. That’s the Nativity.

When you came out of the closet, that was a miracle. Despair was left behind and you walked into the light of truth and wholeness and love. Alleluia! That was Resurrection.

When you found Sunshine Cathedral after you had decided that religion was irrelevant or cruel or boring or prudish or superstitious…you were through with religion…and then you found a different kind of church. And your heart began to sing. You still left the old rules and the old prejudices behind (praise God!), but you started to experience love and hope and joy and connection and you started to believe that THIS is what God is…God is love, period. And a community that celebrates love is a church for me. You had an epiphany; you discovered that all people have sacred value and you were willing to give frankincense, myrrh, and gold…time, talent, and treasure to help others experience the joy that you found.

You probably haven’t walked on water. But you have gotten out of the boat and faced your fears. And that is a miracle.

You haven’t fed the world. But you have fed or helped or encouraged or comforted someone, and that gesture did more than you even knew it could. And that is a miracle.

You even learned that you are a miracle. Just as you are, you are God’s miracle and not God’s mistake. And this is the good news. Amen.

Dear God,
I am thankful for miracles.
I am a miracle.
Alleluia!
Amen.

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