|Pentecost 15, Year B||September 6, 2015||Proper 18, Year B||Isaiah 35:4-7a, Ps 146, James 2:1-17, Mark 7:24-37|
|Pentecost 12, Year B, Jonathan Myrick Daniels Commemoration||August 16, 2015||Pentecost 12, Proper 15||Proverbs 4:20-27, Psalm 85:7-13, Galatians 3:22-28, Luke 1:46-55|
|Pentecost 11, Year B||August 9, 2015||Proper 14, Year B||Ephesians 4:25-5:2|
|Pentecost 10, Year B||August 2, 2015||Proper 13, Year B||Ephesians 4:-16, John 6:24-35|
|Pentecost 8, Year B||July 19, 2015||Proper 11, Year B||Psalm 23, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56|
|Pentecost 7, Year B||July 12, 2015||Pentecost 7, Year B||Ephesians 1:3-14|
|Pentecost 6, Year B||July 5, 2015||Proper 9, Year B||Ezekiel 2:1-5, 2 Corinthians 13:3-10, Mark 6:1-13|
|Pentecost 5, Year B||June 28, 2015||Proper 8, Year B||Mark 5:21-43, Psalm 30|
|Pentecost 4, Year B||June 21, 2015||Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 7, Year B||2 Corinthians 6:1-13, Mark 4:35-41|
|Pentecost 3, Year B||June 14, 2015||The Third Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 6||2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17; Mark 4:26-34|
|Pentecost 2, Year B||June 7, 2015||The Second Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 5||Genesis 3:8-15, Ps 130, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1, Mark 3:20-35|
|Pentecost 1, Year B -Trinity Sunday||May 31, 2015||Pentecost 1, Year B, Trinity Sunday||Isaiah 6:1-8,Psalm 29,Romans 8:12-17,John 3:1-17|
|Easter 7, Year B||May 17, 2015||Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year B||John 17:6-19|
|Easter 6, Rogation Sunday, Year B||May 10, 2015||Sixth Sunday of Easter, Rogation Sunday||Deuteronomy 11:10-15, Mark 4:26-32|
|➤Easter 4, Year B||April 26, 2015||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B||I John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18|
Easter 4, Year B
Sermon Date:April 26, 2015
Scripture: I John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18
Liturgy Calendar: Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B
"Icon – Jesus as the Good Shepherd
So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
One flock, one shepherd.
The kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God does not yet exist fully in this world.
But our job, as Christians, is never to lose sight of this vision.
Our job is to have enough faith and hope to long to see God bringing this kingdom to birth here in our midst, even if sometimes that kingdom only appears as a shimmering mirage on a distant horizon,
Even if sometimes we can’t see it at all through the barrage of horrific images of evil that constantly encircle the globe through the power of the internet and the constant cycle of news that needs a rotation of awful stories to keep our fearful attention.
This constant exposure to evil and its work in the world can remove our ability to see that God is still working to bring forth a kingdom of love here on earth. This constant exposure to evil can pull faith and hope out from under us, leaving us flat on our backs in helpless fear.
So we have to look for God’s work in the world in order to keep from falling down and becoming helpless because of our fear and dread of evil.
Several things happened on Thursday that made the kingdom of God visible to me in several thought provoking ways.
I go to a book group every Thursday morning at Blackstone Coffee in Fredericksburg, and this coffee shop is on the property of The University of Mary Washington, in Eagle Village. So on this past Thursday morning, as I was talking with one of my friends on the sidewalk after book group, two smiling young men came up to us. They held signs written in Arabic and in English. And the signs said, “Free Hugs.”
I just burst out laughing and said that I loved free hugs, and so we all hugged, and they went off with their signs to spread their little bits of God’s kingdom of love and peace around Eagle Village. I hope they gave out lots and lots of hugs, and got lots of hugs in return. And that people saw and felt God’s love at work in the world through these two joyful young men.
On Thursday night, I had the privilege of going to Richmond Hill, the retreat center in Richmond, VA, to attend a Taize service. We have some Taize songs in Wonder, Love and Praise and we use some of these songs periodically in our worship.
Before the service started, two monks from the Taize community, which is in France, described the beginnings of the community and what has happened there over the years.
During World War II, a Swiss man named Roger decided that he must do something to help the people suffering in the war. He found his way to a small village in France called Taize. He bought a little house there and lived among the people. He hid Jews in his house and helped them escape to safety. Eventually, he was discovered and he had to go back to Switzerland. When he returned to Taize after the war, he brought three other people with him who were interested in living in an intentional community that would be a witness to God’s love in the world, and so the Taize community was born.
Today, this community of monks welcomes thousands and thousands of young people from all over the world to Taize to join in the life of the community for a week and to participate in the worship that includes singing, scripture reading and silence. The people camp in tents and live in simple barracks. This week is life changing. On Thursday night, several people who had been to Taize talked about how their lives had been changed for the better as a result of their time there. And the common thread was that they found that their hearts were open to God’s love in new ways and that they were actually experiencing God’s kingdom here on earth in this community of love and then taking that love out into their lives back home.
The kingdom of God made visible.
So Taize, this worldwide, life changing ecumenical movement, is an example of what can happen when one person sees with eyes of faith and hope and then step by step begins walking toward the kingdom of God on earth that God has laid out as that person’s place and work in the world.
After the service, we drove down Broad Street and passed the McDonald’s there at the bottom of the hill as we headed toward our exit onto I-95. This area of Richmond is what you’d call “rough,” the proverbial “other side of the tracks” and people who are clearly in need are wandering these streets, oblivious to the traffic passing by.
Much to my surprise, the McDonald’s sign said this—
“Love covers all things.”
It caught my attention—suddenly, the possibility of the Kingdom of God was right there in the last place I’d expect to see it—on a McDonald’s sign in a rough part of Richmond, VA.
As Christians, our first job is to never lose sight of the kingdom of God in our midst.
And our second job, as Christians, is to see what it is that God is calling us to do to make God’s kingdom a living, breathing reality on this earth, here and now, and then try to do that thing. Even the little things we do are of monumental importance when it comes to making God’s kingdom present on this earth.
On the second Sundays of the month, the loose offering here at St Peter’s goes into my discretionary fund. I’m so grateful for your generosity, because I can use this money in ways that make God’s kingdom visible.
I got a call this week from a person who was feeling overwhelmed, alone, and depressed.
And so we talked, and I could assure him that yes, I could help him with his electric bill, but more importantly, I could assure him that he was not alone in this and that our community can help him. It’s God’s kingdom visible in a check to the electric company. It’s God’s kingdom audible in the prayer we shared together over the phone about how we’re all here to help one another by sharing God’s love with each other, not just in words, but in action.
Today’s scriptures comfort us with these beautiful images of the Good Shepherd, but the passages we’ve heard also challenge us—challenge us to live as if God’s kingdom is already a reality.
John’s letter, written to an audience feeling divided, and surrounded by evil outside forces, is a reminder to them and to us about how to live in God’s kingdom here and now.
Jesus is our example. Our first job is to believe in him, and follow him, and this is not just lip service belief, but the kind of belief that results in action.
So we obey his commandments and abide in his love.
And that includes laying down our lives for one another.
John puts it so bluntly. “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help?”
This is the question we must ask ourselves over and over.
“How is God calling me to lay down my life for others in need, to love others in truth and in action?”
There are no easy answers to this question, and the answers change over time.
Discernment in community is so important—being able to talk with other Christians about how I feel I’m being called to love others—these conversations can be encouraging, challenging, and helpful.
And scripture study together—opening God’s word to seek guidance, rather than using scripture to justify our own positions or to support our own answers—being able to discuss what it means to lay down our lives for others is a true privilege and blessing that can lead us more fully into what we’re called to do to make God’s kingdom visible In this world.
Our food distribution is one example of God’s love visible in this little corner of Caroline County. Thank you for your ongoing support of time, and your contributions of food and money to support this ministry.
And on Tuesday, we had the tremendous opportunity to have our church open as over one thousand people poured into town for Virginia’s Garden Week. Cookie, Johnny, Eunice, Betty and Clarence, Mary Ann, Andrea, Marion, and many others worked so hard to provide food for over 175 people Several hundred people passed through our church and got to hear our story from Becky, Tucker, Roger, Johnny, Barbara and me—and then on Saturday, more of you came and shared our story again with people here for the Booth weekend.
People got to hear that yes, we worship in this historic building, and our worship here then takes us out into the world to do God’s work, to make God’s kingdom of love visible.
So with our Good Shepherd guiding us, let’s keep laying down our lives for one another, and abiding in God’s love, as we continue the work we’ve been given to do to make God’s kingdom visible in the world and to help those in need.
And to remember that love covers all things and that the kingdom of God’s love and peace is truly at hand, and that we can see it in our midst if we dare to look for it.