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Some thought Jesus is out of touch with religion, reality and the ways of the world. That would be the religious leaders of his day. Many in our day, still think he’s out of touch. Frankly, he is – because of how we try to structure reality. We try to fit God into our ways. And God doesn’t fit. God wants to fit us into God’s world. A lot of people may say otherwise, but don’t want that.
When Fr. Steve asked me to preach this Sunday, I breathed a great sigh of relief that I escaped Trinity Sunday preaching yet another year, but then I read the Gospel reading…and was no longer so sure this was an easier option…
Some of you may know that Karen and I recently attended adult summer camp in North Carolina. To be clear, think Folk School – training in arts. You need to know what an adult summer camp is. After lunch one day, a new friend and I talked about word series that contain truth, like “Ready, Aim, Shoot,” which amateur photographers confuse for “Shoot, Ready, Aim.” After a Christmas Eve service years ago, a mother told me her kindergartener was muttering aloud during the ever-popular singing of “Silent Night” as candles were being lit. Eyes wide open, staring at his flame, he is saying, “Stop, Drop, Roll! Stop, Drop, Roll!”
The June Apostle has been post…check it out…click on News then on the Apostle icon!
I’ve said that the dead don’t get up and walk around. I stand corrected. Last Sunday evening, at the Billboard Music Awards, Michael Jackson was up from the dead, singing and dancing. MJ died in 2009. And I have since learned that Elvis sang a duet with Celine Dione in 2009. He died in 1977. I thought you people like me? Why didn’t someone tell me these two guys are back?
Jesus is into an extended discourse of parting words to his disciples in today’s gospel. Storm clouds are rolling in. Jesus will be dead in less than 24 hours. You’ll often hear these words read at memorial and burial services. People listen closely and politely. Death gets our attention like little else. Life eludes us.
In addition to Mother’s Day, today is Good Shepherd Sunday. I thought I’d try to work Mother’s Day into the sermon. About all I came up with is that I’m sure my mom would’ve agreed with Peter – “That boy of mine sure can be like a straying sheep. I hope the Good Shepherd gets ahold of him before he drives me crazy.” I don’t know why she’d say something like that – I did go to seminary, after all. Anyway, in today’s gospel, Jesus is not a shepherd. He’s a gate. Today should be the Good Gate Sunday. But a gate doesn’t relate as warmly to us as a good shepherd does.
Each week since Easter we keep hearing how that first one was anything but a roaring success. Not so where I came from. Easter in my hometown church was huge, triumphant, people dressed to the 9’s, trumpets, palms and lilies. Easter was so big that many who came that day could cruise until Christmas before needing to come back. To me, Easter wasn’t so great. I mean, after all – a bunny leaves chocolates and peeps in a bed of crappy-looking, fake grass. Christmas, on the other hand, has Santa who drops in, leaves good presents by a nicely appointed tree. That’s better. In pre-marital counseling people tell me their favorite holidays are Thanksgiving and Christmas. No one so far says Easter, but I’ve only done this for 40 years.
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John begins his Gospel: the Word becomes flesh and lives among us – in other words, Jesus lives in our flesh what God wants us to know. Something goes wrongs with the plan. Jesus is crucified, and his disciples go into hiding, afraid the police will come for them next, especially since the body’s gone missing. They’re a hopeless and pathetic bunch. Easter day ends with a whimper, not a bang.