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Homilies from Nola Crewe
20th November 2005

The Ripple Effect


May my lips be blessed to speak of God’s word. 

A m e n


We have all dropped a stone into a still pond and watched the ever-spreading ripples encompass the whole surface until it reaches the shore . . . the limits of the world of that pond.  To-day I want to talk of the ripple effect your life has on our world.


We measure our lives in days:  the yesterday that we cannot change one whit.  The tomorrow which may never come.  But there is NOW.  NOW  is everything that we can ever impact upon others and our world.  So we must use it with care and grace. 


NOW is our reality.  Each moment gives us the chance to choose good or ill, light over darkness, salvation or damnation.


We can all remember people who touched our lives in important ways . . . the teacher who taught us to love books . . . the granny who told stories of Jesus as she baked pies . . . the friend who stood at our side through thick and thin.


We can also remember those who changed our lives in other ways.  The schoolyard bully whose taunts still sting after all these years . . . the teacher who considered us stupid . . . the thief who broke into our house and stole away our security.


Those people really stand out in our memory and are easy to recall.  But just think of the people who have made your day a little happier, or a little sadder,  over the past week . . .   For me, it was

  • the cashier who made me smile with her “Wow, I wish I was coming to your house for dinner”, as she rang up the third dessert.

  • The transformed face of the harassed shopper when my granddaughter gave her a big grin and a “Hi, whatcha doin’?” ;
  • and the cabbie who swore at other drivers while I sat in the backseat;
  • or the chain of events when a lady took the time to return to the food bank with the wallet she had found on the street .   Karen called the owner and we were all feeling really pleased with the world when he reclaimed it.

In so many unplanned ways we touch others  . . . with love, with indifference or with malice. 


Each one of you, sitting here this morning, made the choice to come to church and worship God, to celebrate your faith.  But, in doing that, you have provided me with the opportunity to preach God’s word.  So each of you has added to the joy of my life:  one of those unintended gifts that I bet you never even thought about.  But, thank-you, for doing so.


Just as the stone has no idea of its ripples, most of us never consider how our words and our actions have ripple impacts on the lives of others.


Christ once spoke of how it would be on the Day of Judgment.  Heaven would be the reward for those who fed Him when He was hungry, gave Him a drink when He was thirsty; invited Him in as a stranger, or visited Him in prison. 


This confused His listeners who asked him when that had ever happened.  And he responded, “ . . . to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” 


Each of the small acts of kindness, the things we can learn to do without thinking, brings us into that wonderful circle around our Saviour, living as a Christian wants to live.


St Monica’s, our tiny storefront church has a very large ripple effect on lives throughout our community.  On Sunday morning when Joan lays out the cookies and Gail puts the kettle on to boil, they are adding sweetness to our lives.  And when the toilets are being cleaned, they are being cleaned just as surely to the glory of God, as when the brasses for the altar are polished. 


It takes so many willing hands to make St Monica’s what it is.  Volunteers, whose actions set ripples spreading as they fold clothes,  scrub the dishes, fill grocery bags, keep the books, set up or play the organ.  Imagine what a dismal, grubby, and silent place this would be without them! 


When someone comes through the doors and finds peace with a prayer in the chapel, or a warm coat for a shivering street person, or a cup of coffee and a chat for the lonely, that ripple effect is continuing its work.   When people leave here, touched by others, the ripple effect passes into our streets and homes and the whole world.


And have you ever noticed how often doing the right thing makes you feel good.  The volunteers packing bags in the food bank are laughing and joking, working in harmony as they do “the right thing”, but they are enjoying themselves and feeling good about themselves when they go home.  And that ripples into a happier home and that ripples into . . .


Well, you see how it works!


But, it can also work the other way.  When I see the crack dealer at the corner  I often wonder how he feels.  He has chosen the dark side . . . he selfishly weighs his greedy desires against the lives of others.  And lives are smashed and ruined and the ripples that spread out from his actions leave taint and debris in their wake.  Does he ever think about that?  Does he only see the easy money and his own next fix.  Does he ever feel the coldness of his separation from God, in what he does?


And the poisonous ripples that he emits spreads in waves down Gerrard and clashes with the grace of Christ on the sidewalk in front of St Monans.   The turmoil and battle of good and evil is ever real and close to each of us.


We can’t possibly consider all the consequences of our every act:  but we can set our hearts as a compass to let Jesus guide us into the light and in that light send out the ripples of our lives.  We can determine our souls to serve God and live in His light. 


Remember, being a Christian means living a Christian life in the real world.  It’s what you do when you leave this building.  What your friends and neighbours and the people you pass on the street, see and feel.  Caring and loving are palpable things.   They are the stones of life that you cast into the still pond.  The ripples you send forth that can lighten or foul the pond. 


And remember that Christ sent out the greatest ripples of all.  In the short 33 years of his life on earth, only three of which are recorded as his ministry, he set off ripples that continue to spread and consume us in His generosity, His sacrifice, His love.  Two thousand years and no hint that they are anywhere near the shore as yet.  All those years, all the passion, all the love, recorded in the story of His great sacrifice for us, still rippling out and leading us on.


So let us join the great waves of eternity and commit to making our life ripples part of Christ’s story . . . 

                                                                   A M E N.

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