Let me begin with this.
This short reading from Mark’s Gospel.
Listen that God’s word might be heard in our midst again this day.
When Jesus returned from Capernaum after several days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four people. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. (Mark 2: 1-4)
More about these verses in a moment, but alongside them allow me to place these words from a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks. Again, listen for God’s word in the words of the poet.
we all heard it,
cool and clear,
cutting across the hot grit of the day.
The major Voice.
The adult Voice
forgoing Rolling River,
forgoing tearful tale of bale and barge
and other symptoms of an old despond.
Warning, in music-words
devout and large,
that we are each other’s harvest:
we are each other’s business:
we are each other’s magnitude and bond.
Twenty six years ago this weekend, a young family moved from Neenah, Wisconsin to Bedford Village, New York. Mom and Dad and two young sons. A 6 year old in First Grade and a 2 year old intent on doing everything he saw his 6 year old brother doing. You took that family in. Some of your children were our children’s first baby sitters. Some of you were their Sunday School teachers and choir directors and youth group and work trip leaders. All of you were a part of the community in which they and we grew up and which helped to make them and us who we are today. I can’t thank you enough.
Now 26 years later family and friends gather.
And, this community gathers.
And, today we baptize Lucas.
And, once again, promise to watch over and to care for.
To care for him and for his parents, and I trust somewhere in those promises, you also mean you will care for grandparents and great-grandparents and for uncles and aunts and for all who love and will do all we can to care for this little boy. Because he lives so far away, I don’t know how many times you will see Lucas (or for that matter, some of the other children we have baptized), but nevertheless let me remind you of this. No matter how near or how far and just as you have been in the past. We are each other’s business.
But, what I most want to say to you is not just about or even primarily about Lucas.
Or, about the Alcorns or the Iguinas Gonzalas.
Or about any of the children we have baptized.
This is about you and me and who we are.
This is about Kathy and John and Midge.
This is about Mistie and Julie and Dave.
This is about our other Sunday Spirit teachers and about those who hang out on Friday evening with our middle school and high school youth. This is about Lila and Marcia and those who stay in touch with others. This is about those who make and then drop off a much needed and very welcomed meal. This is about phone calls made and prayers remembered. This is about open doors and hospitality extended. We are each other’s business.
This is about all of us…as a community of faith.
And who we are called to be both within the circle of this congregation and in the wonder and the complexity of the world out there.
We are called to be light and hope.
We are called to be a voice for inclusion and justice.
We are called to do what we can to inch our way towards God’s Kingdom come which is always more about today than about some far off tomorrow.
We are called to be that for each other.
We are called to be that for all others.
We are each other’s business.
Besides what I have already said, here is what I believe from the center and depth of who I am. We open our doors in the winter so those who need it have a safe place to sleep because we are each other’s business. We repair homes in Mt. Kisco or Yonkers or Buchanan County or Campuzano, Nicaragua because we are each other’s business. We do what we can to make sure our neighbors have access to the food they need because we are each other’s business. We walk through the prison gates to remind ourselves and those on the other side of those walls of both their and our humanity because we are each other’s business. We dare to dream big and that dream becomes reality which, in turn, enables students to go to college who otherwise could not afford it because we are each other’s business.
We are each other’s business.
When we walk into the complexity and challenges of the world out there.
Work. School. Neighborhood. Community.
Remembering who we are and who we are called to be.
Remembering that we are made in the image of God.
And, remembering, too, that they are made in the image of God.
All the other theys out there.
Rich. Poor. Black. White. Gay. Straight. Immigrant. Daughter of the American Revolution.
We are each other’s business.
And, the more we remember that and the more we live that…
The better off we are.
And, this is where the verses I read a moment ago from Mark’s Gospel come into play. A paralyzed man, unable to move, lies strapped to his cot. And others, who cared enough, carried him along in the desperate hope of getting close enough to Jesus. Only to find out when they finally arrive that the crowd is already so large they can not even reach the front door. So, instead of giving up or turning around and going home, they lug and pull and lift their friend, still strapped to his cot, up to the roof of the house where they pulled back the thatch and dig through the roof making a large enough hole to lower him through.
Here is what struck me as I read and thought about that story in light of the events and meaning of this day, at least for me. I don’t know about you, but I have lived this story. Both sides of it. There are times in all our lives when, because of illness or situation or circumstance, we find ourselves paralyzed. Strapped down, unable to move, left to rely on the strength and caring and compassion of others. I have been there, have you? And, there are times in our lives when we are the ones who are able. When we have the strength and the determination and the vision to see the way forward. And, to make our way forward. Not only for ourselves, but also for and with one another.
In the end, I believe, the only way it really works…
And the only way we are ever healed…
Is when we realize, we are in it together.
That we need each other.
That we are, in fact, each other’s business.