Rev. George Miller
Aug 14, 2011
Last year we, as a nation, were covered in darkness. I wonder how many people recall that.
A year ago, hundreds upon hundreds of gallons of black, dark, oil was spilling into the innocent sea.
A year ago the Gulf of Mexico was weeping; tears stained with crude.
The Gulf was weeping because her children were dying. The whales on their oceanic journeys. The sea turtles and horseshoe crabs, the shrimp and mackerel.
It didn’t matter if her children were prey or predator, or if they were birds who took to the air, the Gulf of Mexico wept.
She wept for pelicans who suffocated off of the Louisiana beaches, the heron chicks who had no chance at all, the sea gulls that sunk under waves of murderous oil.
The Gulf wept for her marshes and wetlands with their grass dead and soaked in oil, as was the earth 5,000 feet down.
The Gulf wept for the people who depended upon her. The fisherman, the hospitality industry, and the resorts.
The Gulf wept for the pets who became homeless and the children who experienced severe forms of stress because Mommy and Daddy no longer had a job.
A year ago the oil spill that we, as a nation, experienced was emotionally likened to a hurricane that never went away, and it’s said that we will not even know the true impact for another four years.
The Gulf of Mexico wept because just a year ago it was covered in oily darkness, as were we.
Yet how many of us even remember it; how many recall what those weeks were like; that feeling of impotence, not knowing what we could do or even when the oil spill would end?
But end, it eventually did. And in some ways, we as a church did what we were able to do.
We held a week long series of events devoted to the spill. We had a service of lament. A Bible Study. A letter writing campaign.
A service devoted to the environment which was attended by Charlie Taylor, the owner of the local BP stations.
We held an oil Sabbath, a service of healing featuring a drum circle.
We even demonstrated forgiveness by purchasing gas from BP, making us the only congregation in the US to offer BP any token of grace.
It’s hard to believe that a year ago those events took place, just as it’s hard to even remember that we did go through such a time of fear and worry, in which we were so uncertain about what the future had in store.
And yet, somehow, we made it through. And since then our focus and fears have gone to new places: Casey Anthony, the Debt Ceiling, and the Dougherty Gang.
Yet, I am sure that the Gulf is still weeping; for the destructive, incendiary ways of oil in an ocean can be legion.
That is why today I am thankful for a scripture in which the healing natures of oil are celebrated.
A different kind of oil, mind you, but oil nevertheless.
Psalm 133 is called a Song of Ascent. It’s a song that people sang as they traveled to or arrived at the Holy City.
It’s a song that celebrated Jerusalem as the place where God’s people were with their true family, in their true home.
The Temple was the place in which they could be totally in touch with the healing presence of God.
There is nothing dark or threatening about this Scripture; it’s a celebration of life’s goodness, the Lord’s blessings and the virility of the land.
And the sign of all this is oil.
Olive oil used as sign of hospitality and consecration. Oil as a sign of joy and relatedness.
And how is this oil applied?
So abundant it runs down the beard, so abundant it runs into the collar, so abundant it runs down into the robes.
So abundant it is like the morning dew on the mountain.
As one member of the Bible Study said on Tuesday, it’s almost like you can imagine the oil as God’s hands being wrapped around the person.
Oil so generously used it creates a sweet, pleasant time.
Oil so generously used it says “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey you are welcome.”
Oil so generously used it says “No matter how much darkness you have faced, no matter how much you have wept, there is light, and there is laughter and there is love.”
Last year, we as a nation were turned asunder by the fears created in seeing oil poured into the gulf.
But today we embrace a different image of oil; healing oil that is used to unify a nation through blessedness and hope, not fear and worry.
And through this gift of healing oil there is the promise of abundant life, the kind that can only come from unity and from a safe and healthy family.
And that family is the family of God. With Jesus Christ as the Head. With the Spirit as the breath. With God as Mother and Father.
Here, we are called to celebrate and embrace that unity, knowing that in the presence of God’s arms we are free from resentment, abuse and destructive behavior and ushered into a place of intimacy, love and growth.
Is Psalm 133 about oil that pulls sea gulls under, destroys businesses and causes pets to be homeless?
No, Psalm 133 is about healing oil in which human life and the ecology are blessed, in which people from all over can gather and be welcomed as one, in which sisters and brothers can have a sweet and pleasant time.
In conclusion, a year ago the waters were in threat of being destroyed by deadly oil.
Either we have forgotten or the human spirit is that strong to overcome disaster.
Either way, let’s give thanks that we have made it through to the other side and remember that no matter how dark things may seem, with God there is always a way through, there is always another side.
And thanks to the gift of salvation, there is a place in which we will all gather.
An ultimate place, in which with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit we will all be welcome and rejoice, where true oil, living oil, will be poured abundantly upon all.
For that, we should all say “Hallelujah!” and “Amen!”