Ephesians 4:11-16
"Waiting for a Miracle"

Sermon Notes

She’s still a part of the family–even though she’s been left out of the picture–literally. It’s an incredible representation of the reality of Mirabel’s life. It’s not that her family doesn’t love her. She’s just not as important. As gifted. As needed. Who hasn’t felt like that at some point? She sings, “Someone please just let me know, where do I go?” Where do I fit? Where do I belong in this family?

The pain is palpable. She’s been left on the sideline while everyone else does their part for the family. And though she tries, she’s told that she’s in the way. That sentiment is most strongly held by Abuela, the grandmother. And that’s what hurts the most. Mirabel has figured out how to live without a special gift. But she can’t live without the love, acceptance, and affirmation of her family. Because she’s not like they are, she’s kept on the outside–at a ‘safe’ distance.

“Stay out of the way. You’ll just ruin things.” I hear older siblings, like myself, tell younger siblings that same thing. You’ll just ruin it. I hear church members say this to new, young, or unique people who want to be part of the church–maybe not in so many words. Stay out of the way. You’ll change things. You’ll ruin what we’ve built. I know of one person who, when trying to help a funeral luncheon years ago, was told to stay out of the way. She was doing it wrong. She never helped again.

What is the requirement to be part of the family? What are the expectations? What kinds of demands do we put on people–on ourselves? To be perfect? To be strong? To be uniquely gifted? Is that the only way we can be of service?I mentioned our informal motto a couple of weeks ago: “We model and practice imperfection.” But do we honor it? Do we accept it? Or do people still get pressed to the margins because they aren’t enough? In the movie, we discover that Mirabel finally confronts her Abuela, challenging her ideas of perfection. She points out that not only is SHE not enough. Neither is Luisa or Isabella. Neither was Bruno. Nobody was enough to save the miracle because everyone was expected to fall in line, live inside the box, and be the perfect gift rather than imperfect people.

Our reading from Ephesians draws this out beautifully. The gifts God gives are to equip people, to build up the body of Christ, to work toward the unity of faith. They aren’t about being perfect examples of a gift but about using our imperfections in ways that make it absolutely necessary that we work together. Nobody can carry the community on their own. Nobody has every gift. Nobody is above–or below–the needs of the community. Nobody can be left out or the body of Christ is incomplete. The text goes on to say that Christ is the head, and from him the whole body (not just the pretty parts) is joined and knit together, each part working as it has been designed to promote the body’s continued growth in love. Every ligament, nerve ending, and ugly toe is important to the body of Christ. Everyone. Because that is how God created us. Each of us with our own unique and imperfect gifts.

But even more importantly is the fact that I think we all seem to miss. Our talents or abilities or whatever ways we contribute to a community isn’t the gift. We are. You are the gift. You are the miracle. Mirabel sings about waiting on a miracle because it never occurred to her–or anyone else–that she IS the miracle. She sings, “open your eyes, open your eyes,” begging her family to see her. And when she climbs up to Abuela’s window that night, she hears her grandmother praying to her deceased husband to open her eyes to the solution of a waning miracle. And yet, she refuses to see Mirabel and the gift she is to the family. Abuela doesn’t see how Mirabel comforts Luisa when she is clearly carrying too much. Or how she helps Isabella break out of her cage of expected perfection. how she never chastises Pepe for the storm clouds she carries around. How she accepts and affirms Bruno as a person, not just a prophet. How she gives courage to Antonio before his own miracle reveal. And how she truly loves her family in all of its faults.Mirabel IS the gift. And it is Mirabel who teaches her family how to function without their gifts–to BE the gifts to one another. 

That is our call as Christians, as well. We need not wait for some special talent or ability. We need not wait to be invited into the center sanction. We are called to affirm the reality that every person God has created is a unique and beautiful gift. We are called to honor those on the margins–just as Jesus blessed them in the sermon on the mount. And we are called to recognize ourselves as gifts, to be an active part of the Body of Christ in whatever capacity we are given. Every one of us matters to God–and to each other. You are the gift we need today.

Pastor Tobi White

Our Saviour's Lutheran Church

Lincoln, NE