|The Day of Pentecost, Year A||May 31, 2020||The Day of Pentecost, Year A||John 20:19-23|
|Easter 7, Year A – Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||May 24, 2020||Seventh Sunday after Easter, Year A||Acts 1:6-14, 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11, John 17:1-11, Psalm 68:1-10, 33-36|
|Ascension Day, Year A||May 21, 2020||Ascension Day, Year A||Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:1-14|
|➤Easter 6, Year A||May 17, 2020||Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A||Acts 17:22-31, I Peter 3:13-22, John 14:15-21|
|Easter 5, Year A||May 10, 2020||Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C||John 14:1-14|
|Easter 4, Year A||May 3, 2020||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A||Acts 2:42-47, John 10:1-10|
|Easter 3, Year A||April 26, 2020||Easter 3, Year A||Psalm 116; I Peter 1:17-23; Luke 24:13-35|
|Easter 2, Year A||April 19, 2020||Easter 2, Year A||John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday, Year A||April 12, 2020||Easter Sunday, Year A||Matthew 28:1-10|
|Good Friday, 2020||April 10, 2020||Meditation on the Cross, Good Friday, 2020||John 18:1-19:42|
|Palm Sunday, Year A||April 5, 2020||Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday||Matthew 26:18|
|Lent 5, Year A||March 29, 2020||Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A 2020||John 11:1-45|
|Lent 4, Year A||March 22, 2020||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C||Psalm 23|
|Lent 3, Year A at the Cathedral||March 15, 2020||Third Sunday in Lent, Year A||John 4:5-42|
|Lent 2, Year A – March 8, 2020 – the Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||March 8, 2020||Lent 2, Year A||John 3:1-17|
Easter 6, Year A
Sermon Date:May 17, 2020
Scripture: Acts 17:22-31, I Peter 3:13-22, John 14:15-21
Liturgy Calendar: Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A
I’ve done so many Google searches lately! I’ve watched You Tube videos about how to do things that I’ve never tried before. I use Google to get information on something I’m wondering about. Clear directions have made possible all sorts of endeavors that I’d never have thought of taking on otherwise.
Jesus knew that the disciples needed clear instructions for how to carry on once he was no longer with them. So in today’s gospel reading, he gives a simple instruction.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
And then he reassures the disciples that once he is no longer with them, they will have with them “the spirit of truth, the Advocate,” to continue to give them the simple instructions that they need to be with Jesus and to promote God’s reign of love in this world.
In other words, Jesus is saying, not only can you Google me and my teachings, but you will also have direct access to the Holy Spirit You Tube channel as an additional source of help.
Like all metaphors, this one can only be stretched so far.
Jesus goes on to say that his wisdom and the guidance of the Holy Spirit are not just outer sources (like Google or You Tube) to be consulted –but so much more!
Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will be in us and that Jesus will reveal himself to us as we keep his two commandments to love God and to love one another as Jesus has loved us.
In today’s reading from Acts, the Apostle Paul shares this good news with the God-fearing Athenians, many of whom had figured out that the many Gods to whom they prayed were representatives of the One God.
Paul explained to them who this One God was so that they would have the information and knowledge that they needed to become followers of the One God whose Son is Jesus Christ our Lord.
And so Paul says to Athenians, “God made all the heavens and the earth, and gave everything life. God made us so that we would want to search for God and to grope for God and to find God.”
In other words—
Everything comes from God.
God made us.
And God has a plan for us.
As Robert Wall states in his commentary on Acts, “God’s intent for ordering human life with purpose and precision is ‘so that human beings would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him.’”
Paul reminds the Athenians of what they already know from their own poetry—“For in him we live and move and have our being.”
Then Paul goes on to say, that now that we know who Jesus is, it’s time to repent and to live into this plan that God has for us. Now that we know that we can find God through Jesus, we can to turn to Jesus to find God.
To repent is to turn—to turn away from those things that keep us from loving God and from loving one another by turning toward the Lord.
The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhists, explains repentance in this way. He says that “genuine remorse is a healthy state of mind—it is future oriented, connected with hope, and causes us to act, to change.” Exactly!
When we are connected with our God of Hope, then the ways in which we love one another become fuller and richer, less self-centered and more selfless.
When we are connected with our God of Hope, and to follow the example of Jesus, we become more and more willing to be broken open with love for one another, just as Jesus was broken open on the cross, so that we could know the depth and power of his love for us, a love that overcomes even death.
Right now, because we are not together in person, we are not celebrating the Eucharist together, so we don’t have the visual reminder as the bread is broken each Sunday of Jesus being broken open so that his love can pour out and we can share that love together and then carry it out into the world.
But this time away from the Eucharist is an opportunity for us to become more deeply aware of the infinite ways in which Jesus reveals himself in our midst when we allow ourselves to be broken open for one another.
Whenever we serve one another with love, Jesus is present with us. Right now, we get the privilege of serving and caring more deeply for those in our immediate circles, since most of us are still staying put due to the pandemic. We have the ongoing opportunity of serving one another not out of duty, but out of the loving desire to do so—being broken open for one another in ways that allow Jesus to reveal himself to us, in the ways that we treat one another from moment to moment, in the things that we do for one another throughout the day.
This opportunity to serve one another isn’t limited to those who are physically living in our homes with us. Many people in this congregation are single. And yet, serving with love right now can take the form of phone calls, letter writing, and having patience with those who are working and serving the public when we do have to go out. These acts of love allow Jesus to become visible to us even if we live in solitude.
One person shared with me that she feels called to face into the suffering brought on by the pandemic, to pray for those who are sick, and to grieve for those who have died even though she doesn’t know them. In that breaking open of her heart, Jesus reveals himself, because Jesus himself suffered and is with those who suffer.
Jesus chose to suffer not just for those who loved him, but also for his enemies and for those who let him down, including those who had nailed him to the cross. He suffered on behalf of his disciples who ran away rather than to face possible death along with him. He chose to suffer on behalf of those who had shouted “Crucify him!” And in this redemptive non-violent suffering on the part of Jesus, God’s reveals God’s own love for us.
Martin Luther King says that “at the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. To retaliate with hate and bitterness does nothing but intensify hate and bitterness in the world.” King says that “Good Friday may reign for a day, but that it must give way to the triumphant beat of Easter drums.” Redemptive suffering reveals Jesus and the new life and hope that Jesus brings to us.
In our disagreements and our differing ways of understanding the principalities and powers in this world, and their effect on people and on creation itself, Jesus reveals himself when we can disagree in love, and even in our disagreements work together non-violently to seek solutions for the injustices and inequities that abound for people economically, in education, in health care, in access to healthy food.
And seeking solutions to heal the earth of both our intentional and unintentional wounding of it is also the work that God expects us to do in this world. Seeking to address the problems and inequities that we have created for God’s beloved creatures is an act of love. When we do this work for God’s creation, Jesus reveals himself in our midst.
But even the longest life spent loving God and one another and God’s good creation is not long enough to know completely the wideness, the heights, or the depths of God’s love for us.
Even the vast information on Google is not enough to give us the full knowledge of God’s love.
But thanks be to God, we have the story of God’s love for us in scripture.
We have Jesus, revealing himself to us so that we can see, by example, how to truly dwell in God, so that we can welcome God in to dwell with us.
And we have the Holy Spirit, who fills us with hope, who gives us the power to act and to move more fully and deeply toward loving God and one another as God has loved us.
So may we gladly keep the commandments of Jesus, who says to us, his disciples,
“You who have my commandments and keep them are the ones who love me; and you who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love you, and reveal myself to you.”
Love one another as I have loved you, and there I will be in the midst of you.
Wall, Robert W. “The Acts of the Apostles: Introduction, Commentary and Reflections.” In The New Interpreter’s Bible, A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol X. Acts, Introduction to Epistolary Literature, Romans, I Corinthians. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press. 2002.