Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Humpty Dumpty Advent Sermon

This is the sermon I gave at the Episcopal Church of the Saviour in Clermont, Iowa on December 11, 2011.

John 1:6-8, 19-28
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Psalms 126

We've all heard the old familiar nursery rhyme "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the Kings horses and all the kings men. Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again. You are probably thinking, where in the heck is he going with this, so please bear with me.

Humpty Dumpty was this egg who lived in a kingdom. He was cheerful and chipper sitting high up waiting on a wall. Never had the fear of being poached, boiled, or fried. Never had the concern of becoming an omelet or a meringue. Humpty Dumpty lived a good life. Sitting high up, he was able to look down at the townsfolk as they went by. Never had a care or a concern. But one day as he sat up on top of his wall, something happened. Now the story doesn’t breakdown what it was. Perhaps he had an argument with his wife. Maybe she became angry and tried to scramble him. Perhaps he had upset his neighbor and they had their boys go and attempt to crack him up. Maybe he had just received a bill that was so astronomical that it caused him to split his yolk. Maybe he found out his daughter was pregnant and became so angry he popped, like an over boiled egg. Maybe he lost his job and it caused him to tumble. Maybe his son got sick and it broke him up. Maybe he got cracked up because he was strung out on crack. I don’t know, I wasn’t there. But Humpty Dumpty fell down and he broke so the king of the town was called to come and try to put this egg’s life back together. Now we have all dropped an egg. We have each seen how it splatters and shatters. Imagine the King and his men’s attitude when they saw this mess before them. A shell in millions of pieces. Egg white mixture possibly even beginning to sizzle on the hot pavement. The yolk speckled with gravel and soot. Humpty Dumpty dipped, tripped, and fell down to go splat! The king and his footmen gave up and left Humpty Dumpty in a heap. What in the world does this have to do with anything?

Well, Humpty was waiting around just like we do during Advent. We wait and prepare for the birth of Jesus at Christmas. But just because we are waiting doesn't mean that the rest of the world stops. Things happen, and sometimes, they aren't good things, as in Humpty Dumpty's case.

The local yokels, the king and his men, couldn't put Humpty together again. But we as a congregation can help, by supporting one another during our time of waiting, when those little cracks appear along the edges.

But let's look at the story again. Perhaps Humpty was a reptile egg. Perhaps it was a baby turtle, and the cracking was a necessary part of the process. In that case, the King's men wouldn't have been able to put Humpty together again, but they wouldn't have wanted to. Humpty, though the act of becoming cracked and broken, became something new. Something that represented new life. In fact, those cracks may have been the signal that something new was coming. In that case, we, as a congregation, can gently help the people as they move and grow, encouraging and being there as they transform into something new. The cracks are normal—what we do when they appear is our measure of Spreading the Kingdom of God.

Paul tells us today to do a number of things including rejoice, pray, and give thanks. Those are things that we do every week at Church during our Prayers of the People and during Eucharist. We need to remember that living our lives in the fashion that Paul describes will bring us closer to God and help us in our waiting.

In the Gospel, John the Baptist came as a witness to the light, to be the precursor to Jesus. John didn't simply wait though, he had an active ministry in helping people to repent. Now we might not be all called to a ministry like that of John the Baptist. But we all are called to ministry, helping out those in need, and that is something we can do during advent and all throughout the year.

So, I pray for all of us to be reminded that we shouldn't just wait during advent or at any time of the year, we should help others when they have a Humpty Dumpty moment and that they will help us when the cracks appear. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.