A Michaelmas Sermon

A sermon given after the gospel reading from Matthew 22: The Parable of the Wedding Feast.

We often speak of Knighthood in the time of Michaelmas, as in the song: “Let me of God a fighter be, in the knighthood of the Grail!” And in a festival for children, we may bring to the children the ideal of the knight: to ever serve the Good;  and test them with challenges of aim, balance and courage which can help them serve and develop knighthood in themselves.

The highest ideal of the knight however is something called Minne, what often is simply translated as LOVE. But this love is something different than the often sentimentalized “chivalric love” of the age of knights—it is far more than anything personal. This love that the knight aims to develop is not merely a protective love for the “damsel in distress”, but rather, a far-reaching love of humanity which longs to serve the divine in each human being. It is a love seeking the essential being of the other, that which is most important and true. The knight seeks and serves that which is becoming in the other as a highest ideal and a life task.

So when we call to mind the picture of knighthood, we are not simply regressing to childhood stories or romantic images of a long-distant past. Rather, we are engaging ourselves for a new task of the Michaelic Age, set before the seeker of today, to take up a life of service to our own highest ideals. The world today would have us turn from the light of these ideals, to lose ourselves in the nonessential aspects of our busy, technological and complicated lives and to arrive at the wedding feast mentioned in the gospel reading by some other, back way which has led us to enter unprepared in our hearts, with unripe “soul garments”. But, a way is open to us today to learn to long for and strive for wholeness and connection. Our striving as knights of the modern age can prepare us to enter into a new relationship to the world and to the Spirit.

The quest, after all, is not for some great technological development that can save us all, nor for a weapon which will overpower and subdue all the enemies which challenge us. Rather, the quest is for the Holy Grail—that chalice of the heart, which is open so wide that the whole world is again made whole within its golden heart.

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