Sermon for Easter 7 ~ May 12,
you ever had the experience where you keep bumping into the same person over
and over again? Repeated connections like that get my attention. Last week I
got an email directing my attention to an interesting book. As I thought about
that, I picked up the mail and there on the Canada Lutheran cover was
the author, Shane Claiborne, of that same book: Red Letter Revolution: What
If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?
a little Bible like this one that someone gave to me one time – maybe you have
had one like it – in which the words of Jesus are in red. Shane Claiborne draws attention to the words coming from
the mouth of Jesus. He is a 35 year old who has had an impact on people of his
generation. He lived for a year with Mother Theresa, often quotes St. Francis
and cares deeply about youth and adults abandoning the church. He has been the
catalyst for Christians of all types gathering in communities called Simple
Life. There they live by the words of Jesus, as if he really meant what he
said. They share, they give away, they support people on the street, and become
involved in activism… as if Jesus really meant what he said about not worrying,
forgiving, caring, feeding and loving.
what I`ve been thinking about this week as I read his book: What if Jesus
really meant what he said – how does that affect us?
… so that the world may believe…
section of John's Gospel for today would be all red
letters – all the words before us are coming from the mouth of Jesus.
They are part of a longer prayer meant not just for his disciples then, but
also for us today. He crosses the millennia, so we might think of this as
"praying forward." What if he really meant what he was saying?
have all prayed forward. When each of my daughters was born, I went home from
the hospital and prayed for their future and for Mona and I as new parents.
When my mom journeyed deeper into Alzheimer's, I prayed forward for her to feel
love and care. And as I sit at the bedside of dying saints, I pray for them to
know courage and the presence of God in those moments.
prayer anyway? For me it is talking to a friend who reminds me that I am not
alone in the world. Prayer is whispers, words or silence as I pause in the
presence of God who helps me believe in myself, stand and face the world, and
rise to whatever the occasion calls for. This friend: Jesus… is always love,
book, Shane Claiborne says that for him prayer is not formulaic, but a love
life, a romance with God; but that is not an excuse from action. Prayer wakes
us up, shows us light, and alerts us to our one-ness with God and those around
us. We are not alone and forsaken in this world, we always have someone to
talk to who loves us. Such power of love gives birth to faith or strengthens
faith… that has always been the case.
… that they may all be one… completely
wonder about whether Jesus meant what he said in his prayer, I hear him praying
that we might be "one." His words paint a picture of interdependence between
himself, his "Father," and his people. He adds that his disciples are "given to
him," suggesting that God brings us together to be a gift to one another.
makes you "one" with someone else? What makes you "one" with a
partner or with a family member? How about many years of walking together?
How about being there for each other when no one else is? How about sacrifices
that are made, risks that are taken?
remember being in the hospital one time feeling like a failure. One day, I
opened my eyes and in walked my mom and dad. I will never forget that moment.
It felt sacred… they were one with me. For 15 years I worked with a team of
the same people in chaplaincy. We talked and laughed, raged and swore at each
other, we ate and sang and prayed and told stories and went to movies and argued
policy and listened to prisoners together. We were one. That was a sacred
community. In both situations – it was like God was there. The gatherings of
this congregation are like that… more and more, we are becoming "one."
one by life together, in its beauty and ugliness. And Jesus says that God
joins us there. I wonder if he meant what he said.
… that the love... may
be in them, and I in them.
pray for someone it moves us toward that person. Prayers have feet and hands.
too. We pray forward and we also pray in the present. You pray for me and I
pray for you. I pray for you in your struggles, challenges, fears and trials.
I pray that in the midst of it all, with each other in this community, you will
meet love. Because as Jesus says, he meets us there. Love is strong. It is
the courage and benefit provided by other arms lifting us up.
that is what Jesus meant because after this prayer he was betrayed in the
garden. He was alone in his struggle, but he wasn't. He felt forsaken on the cross
but he wasn't. He rose on Easter morning. The love of God carried him. He
was lifted up. Love wins in the end.
do you think? Did Jesus really mean what he said? How will that change us?
We are One in the Spirit.)