Stephentown Federated Church




Pastor's Sermons

Sermon for Feb 20, 2011 - The Gospel and the Eagle

It takes a lot to astound me any more, but it happened this week!

As I sat in prayer looking at the creek, a magnificent eagle swooped down, glided along the creek and perched in the willow tree.

My first reaction was... "HUH? Did I really see that?" So the eagle did it again; swooped from the willow, along the creek and up to the pine tree, as if to say, "Yes, dummy! This is your gift for today! GET it?"

I knew that he had to be part of today's sermon, and when I read Jesus' words in the Gospel for today, I "got it."

In today's section of Matthew's Gospel, Jesus says, "Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you." Our gut reaction is, "HUH? Did he really say that? It makes no sense!"

In order to make some literate connection, I looked up the symbolism of the eagle in faith traditions and cultures throughout the centuries. It is not surprising that this magnificent bird has held an important place in spirituality for many cultures and for many centuries.

It has been a symbol of creation, wisdom, healing and grace. Because the eagle flies so high, it has been interpreted as the one who carries prayers from earth to heaven, and also one who "sees as God sees." From above the fray.

Native Americans considered the eagle as the symbol of balance between heaven and earth, and as the one which connects the soul with the divine; earth with the heavens.

So... how does this connect with the gospel?

Jesus' words today astound us. Love our enemies? Do good to those who hate us?


Yes. Our mandate as Godly people demands that we have a different perspective. That we see as God sees and love as God loves. Not get bogged down in our small, selfish needs or wants..... have a vision that is graced by a higher standard. Period.

Logical? Typical of human behavior? Of course not. That is the point.

In our modern society, it is rare that someone will "slap us on the cheek." But what of those who slap our egos? Gossip about us or bully us or insult us? Hmmm... we are commanded to love and pray for them. What about those who attack us? We are not to bomb them, but to love them. Hmmm... What?...that is nuts!

That is the mandate of the Christ. It will take some astounding grace. It will take a whole new perspective. It will demand that we rise above what is our nature and what is comfortable. It will demand that we allow ourselves to be lifted up by grace and given a whole new perspective. To be astounded by seeing as God sees. Seeing that we are all connected.

Since today is the 3rd Sunday of the month, our Healing Sunday, we can ask for a different perspective on our hurts and difficulties. We can ask for the eagle's perspective on our lives.

This in itself will heal us and our planet. Perhaps we will not see a cure for our ills, but it will change US and how we perceive things. That is healing.

There are feathers on the Communion table; whether you come forward during the healing service or not, please take one as a reminder that we can rise above the ordinary and see as God sees; love as God loves.

As we go forth, let us trust that there is much more to love and hope than we can see from down here.

THAT is astounding "good news." Blessings.