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Rev. Will Sparks September 1

I visited the old sod over my holidays this summer. For me, the old sod is Scotland, the land of my ancestors and a land that does something to me every time I visit. Let me share a moment from that visit.

At the south end of the main Island of Shetland there is a lighthouse, the island’s airport, and a very small cluster of houses. But among these houses, perched on the edge of the cliffs above the roiling sea, there are stones. And these stones are arranged. A wild storm uncovered them a hundred years ago, and since, they have been carefully and tenderly uncovered to reveal the remains of 5000 years of continuous habitation. Did you hear that? 5000 years.

You can see the fire pit where meals were cooked 5000 years ago in the stone round house that was dug into the ground and covered with peat sod roof. You can see the dished stone with an oval stone in it where grain was ground. You can snuggle into one of the alcoves around the perimeter of the round house that was built 3000 years ago where people would have slept. You can walk the long hall of the remains of the Viking longhouse from around 800 years ago. And you can stand within the high walls of the Lord’s manor from only 300 years ago.

Roots run deep there, and words fail to describe the feeling of groundedness as I contemplated all the generations that have risen and fallen among those stones, upon that sod. History is big and broad and deep to the extent that words feel inadequate. What language can we use. Poetic language might come the closest. But I long to find the words.

There is a similar inadequacy when we try to talk about God, and a similar longing. We are told in our gospel reading this week to go out and share the gospel. Jesus calls us to do that. And I hear that call and I long to find the words to express how deep is God’s presence, how expansive is that love, how mysterious are its ways. And yet I will keep trying, and I hope you will too. Any maybe when we come together and sing and pray, we will sense God’s presence, and find a way to share it.

Blessings, Will