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Carry The Word, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence (A Sermon)

John 1:(1-9), 10-18 MKWR

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. You were in the beginning with God. Everything you speak was spoken to you in the beginning.

Unless you’re speaking hate, or negativity, or self-doubt, or lack, because that was a misinterpretation of the word, and must be unlearned.

All things came into being through God, and without God not one thing came into being. You were in God’s mouth from the beginning. What has come into being in God was life, was you.

What you speak becomes your reality. And the life was the light of all people.The light, the You, shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. Whose name was Lizzie, whose name was Cecil, whose name was Janice, whose name was Claudia, whose name was Noni, whose name was Linda, whose name was Anne, yes whose name was Jack, Shelley and yes Rudy.

They came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all of you might believe through god, in your light. John, Lizzie, Cecil and Jan, Claudia, Noni, Linda and Anne, were not the light, but they came to testify to the light.

They came to convince you that you too can see the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. You have been coming into the world since the beginning.

And god was in the world, and not outside of you, but in you, and the world came into being through you; every time you know you are the light, the world comes into being.

Even when the world tells you that they don’t know you from Adam. Even when your own people don’t accept your light.

But to all who received the word, who believed in word, who carry the word, become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us. And the Word become flesh and lives among us.

Word:

Everybody comes with a story. Our stories carry us. We carry our stories with us. We carry the word because our stories have shaped our experiences.

When we tell, and share and voice our stories, we get to decide which are myths to debunk, truths worth saving or tales worth re-purposing.

Our stories, when told and honored can be maps that lead us to understanding our core beliefs, our possibilities, our wounds, our triumphs, how we view other people, and in this case of the world today, whether our stories will be erased.

Everybody comes with a story.

As COVID and its Variants continue to prematurely end millions of stories through the death dealing of the pandemic, I know that we are all called to carry the word. We are all called to truth and storytelling.

When you carry the word, you know that the events and disharmony of the day mean that we cannot leave it up to history to tell our stories because history will erase our stories or diminish our stories or lie about our stories or leave us out of our own stories altogether.

Those who carry the word know that the news accounts will tell nothing about who we loved and who loved us. We are here to make sure that our people do not end up characters in other people’s stories.

We are here because we know that in the future, when the story of beloved community finding their way through the pandemic is studied, we want to be on record as having spoken against bigotry, against intolerance, against misogyny, against soul crushing capitalism.

Carrying the word means we are writing the poems, fiction, soundtracks and essays that must accompany movement work. Carrying the word means that we are here to make believe because our stories are always at risk.

We who carry the word know that everybody comes with a story and the word invites us to hear one another deeply and intimately. The word says that “We will learn about and understand each other’s experiences.”

Today there is an invitation for us to see each other in different ways, to become neurologically, and metaphysically, and psychically a part of each other. Our stories are what connects and continues us. When I write poems, I break the line in such a way that you will know where to take a breath. Where my story stops, yours starts.

That is the work of carrying the word- to help us to remember and know that we all came from somewhere.

Janice Mirikitani, our co-founding and confounding poet ancestor, reminded us that we all passed by and through some things. She reminded us that we are all a part of this day’s telling.

Our stories are a community ritual, reminding you, beloved, that you did not show up empty. She said that you showed up smart, creative, loving and intelligent. That you know some things.

She reminded us that when you tell your story, and when your story is made welcome, you learn that your genius is not predicated on whether you are asked to pundit on trending timeline news. Your story is your story. And sharing and telling your story in community is about unleashing and activating that which is inherent to you: your genius.

And a church that carries the word, makes itself the blank page to your free-write says “We recognize that we all have different journeys and one size does not fit all.”

That church carries the word says, “We tell stories for survival.” It says, “We make our own stories available for other people’s stories.” It says “We wish, hope, encourage, have opinions, make requests, and demand to be recognized. We don’t just show up. We come from somewhere.”

It says, “Yes, a new book is coming…the book of trans…the book of bi…the book of poverty…the book of the differently abled…the book in agreement with native Americans…the book of elders, the book of AIDS, and the book of Cancer.”

Do you want to be a part of a church and a movement that holds space for unheard voices? Do you want to help the church do the work of creative and political accompaniment, walking with the most marginalized and the most vulnerable of stories? Do you believe that telling stories honors where you came from? Do you believe that it has always been about storytelling?

Don’t you want to carry the word to someone who lost their words?

Carrying the word allows us to imagine other ways to be, allows us all feel valued and validated, shows us that we can be inspired to think differently and Reminds us that if we can recall and record our stories then we can hold on to our culture.

We decide how that belonging, that longing, that love, that loss, that triumph, that family, that survival, that resilience and that laughter is experienced.

I want you to tell your stories, beloved. I’m not talking about your brand. I’m talking about being in intentional communities of folks who are invested in your heart and not just your marketing strategy.

I want you to be heard and have your spark fanned and not just your story monetized. I want you to know what they do not, that your carrying the word allows you to imagine other ways out, in, through and over.

Carrying the word puts the valuation of your life in your hands. Carrying the word is the map that frees you.

Carrying the word means we are prepared to speak truth to the rarely acknowledged or challenged campaign against our erasure.

Carrying the word means we are talking about the metaphorical and literal roads, ways and steps and steps ahead that we can travel together.

Carrying the word means we are gathered to learn from each other’s (dis)location and how this knowing relates to our own liberation.

Carrying the word means we are making visible the most invisible of us.

Carrying the word says that we are finally being given room and space to ask the soul working questions that only writers can ask: What ties us all together? What binds us? What is our knot? How do we keep from coming undone? Who are your heroes? Who made a way for you? Whose footsteps do you walk in? Did you know that the story of who nurtured you might save someone’s life? Did you know that the story about what you are healed from is balm for some hurting soul somewhere?

This is a call to the church to have pencil and food pantries. This is a call to poets and preachers and storytellers and culture makers, with our beliefs and our faiths and our witness and our testimony, to come together and join our stories with the billions of other believers and their stories around the world and throughout time.

This is a call to affirm that this work we do, using stories in service of people and their divinity and then connecting stories from around the world in service of changing the world, is being recognized as needing a place to thrive.

This is a call to say that this thing that we wondered aloud about, if there could be a place that emotionally, mentally and spiritually holds us, while we do the work of moving into our most creative possibilities, has materialized.

This is a call to say that you will never have to say, “You gotta believe me,” because I will and I do.

And yes, when you carry the word, it allows you to tap into ancestral knowledge about forgiveness.

And yes, carrying the word means that you know that there is something in the universe that attends to your pain and is not waiting for your demise but becomes a present help because you are hurting.

And yes, carrying the word says you know that there is no hiding from community, your kindred, your family.

And yes, your word allows us to covenant with one another. It says we will not allow each other to be broken.

And yes, your word, like your fingerprints, say you are uniquely magnificent.

This is a call to say that everybody comes with a story and everybody must carry the weight of their own word. Someone carried ours.

This is a call to dismantle structures that keep us from speaking into the one big never ending story of life that carries all words ever spoken.

In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.

And today, I declare the Word became flesh and lived among us.

And the Word becomes flesh and lives among us.

Amen, Amen, Amen.

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