FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
Readings for this Sunday:
Acts 9:36-43 |Psalm 23 |Revelation 7:9-17 |John 10:22-30
I want you ask you to take a minute and think. I want to ask you to bring to mind for a few minutes, those things in life that you have that can never, not ever, be taken away. Those everlasting things.
I am talking about the things that would remain if everything else, if the more transitory things away, fell away. Things that you would have, that would remain, even in the most trying of circumstances. If everything else was gone, your stuff, your health, your current relationships, what would remain? What do you carry? What do you bear witness to that you know just would not, just could not, die.
For me it's the desire for justice and equity that my dad carried in his life and that he gave to me. It’s compassion and the need to make sure others have what they need that my mom witnessed to with such power in with her life and that she left with me. It's the connection and unbreakable love I know in my children and my friends. It's the goodness and mercy I get to glimpse in your company. It’s the beauty and playfulness and wisdom of our youth group kids. It’s the hope and the resilience I see in those I get to be with in the places where people are fed and sheltered in this city. It’s the rhythm and the promise of the seasons and the sometimes quiet, sometimes mighty, power of creation.
These things remain with me and will remain after me. No matter what. They are with me even when the people and the things that have carried them to me are not. My mom and dad are gone but these things that they gave me remain. They stand on their own. They are transcendent and are rooted beyond this world. All of these things have moved me through hardship and pain and they will do so again. Everything else could fall away, but not these things. These things are good and true and they have me in their grasp.
Now it’s true that my glimpses of these things can be fleeting. As I make my way through the circumstances and the stresses and demands of this life, the reality of these everlasting things come to me often in an instant. Thankfully I have seen them enough that I am learning to trust in them more and more.
And these things well they are the things that I can rely on to guide me. When I am unsure or frightened they show me which way to go. And they comfort me. They soothe me and have helped me heal when I have needed to gain strength. They are with me and they never leave me, and they will remain when I am gone.
So what are these things for you? Take a minute. Name them. What are the things you have that can never, not ever, be taken away? That remain even if the folks or the things that witnessed to them are not with you. The things that center you in what’s true and good. The things that hold you and comfort you and guide you?
Anyone want to share one of theirs?
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil because the justice I want, the care I must give, the love I know, the goodness I trust, the mercy I need, the beauty I have seen, are with me. They will shepherd me, they will restore my soul and lead me on right paths. They will make me lie down in green pastures and they show me still waters. They will guide me and bring me back to what is good and right. They will remind me that I am blessed and will be as a feast spread before me even in the darkest of places. Surely such goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and will provide me sanctuary forever.
These things - they are the voice of God. The everlasting instant. The Spirit of God who shepherded Abraham and Moses and Peter. The same Spirit that caused Tabitha to sew clothes for those vulnerable in her community. And the Spirit that remained so powerfully with her community that she could not die. The Spirit of God who called and guided Hildegard of Bingen and Martin Luther King and Dorothy Day. And the Spirit of God who comes to us in these stories and at this table. The Spirit of God that shepherds you and shepherds me.
These things never die. These goodnesses and mercies are with you. They cannot die. They are the very Spirit of God and they have you. They will not, cannot, let you go. They are the everlasting instant.
So no urging today to do anything else but be thankful. Just maybe be reminded by these stories today to look a little closer this week, this Easter Season, in the instants of our lives, for these everlasting things, these gifts from God, and take some time to give thanks. Deep thanks.
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