Sunday's sermon was entitled "Spiritual Halitosis" an idea I got from reading about the "breath of God" in Isaiah 40. The breath of God gives true life and reminds us of our mortality, whereas the air we ingest often is life-taking and idolatrous--hence bad spiritual breath. On Peace Sunday, the second Sunday of Advent, I offered the idea that we must begin to work for peace by moving from an inward peace and then move outward to peace in our closest relationships and then to the world.
I made use in the sermon of the wonderful book by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life. It is a wonderful collection of thoughts on the spiritual life. From this book, I got the wonderful story of the woman who went shopping in Jesus' mall store by Megan McKenna. Also, I got the great thoughts about faithful parenting--Mother Theresa's exhortation to some wealthy matrons to create peace in their families before they worked with the poor and homeless and the words of Polly Berrien Berends who declares that "parenthood is the world's most intensive course in love." and by Gary Snyder that having a "child in the house is like living with a Zen master, it requires attention, patience, and selflessness." Finally, I took from this book the story by Joseph Campbell about the woman who could not love God, to whom the Hindu sage urged to love her family member and that would be her service and love to God.
I also quoted one of my favorite authors, Frederick Buechner, from his terrific book Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC. He writes about compassion:
Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it's like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.
Also, I referenced Parker Palmer's wonderful book The Active Life where he quotes a friend who declares, "I have never asked myself if I was being effective, but only if I was being faithful."