Year C 2019
Alleluia, Christ is Risen;
The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia.
I didn’t get “goose bumps” this morning. At least not like I did on Easter when we proclaimed that truth and heard the Alleluia’s for the first time after Lent. What has changed? I have. We have. The world has! So, the lessons for this morning are written for me and for us. They are a reminder that our faith is more than a moment by moment feeling. They are given to remind us of how we are to live out the truth of Easter, not just out of our own desires, but instead out of the love of God that we are called to know, proclaim and live out.
We hear in Acts about the continuing work of God as Peter raises Tabitha. It is a story of hope in the midst of death in this new fledgling church. I love the details about the clothes Dorcus, which was her Greek name, had made. It is a story of God’s action and redeeming love.
The passage from Revelation is about the power of God in heaven. It addresses the truth of God working. “They will hunger no more, and thirst no more… for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd”.
John’s gospel reminds us that Jesus is the shepherd. We will know his voice and follow, and no one will be able to separate us.
These lessons all reflect the truth of this moment in the season of Easter. They reflect the collect we used to begin this service. They reflect the truth of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
Over the past week, we have experienced in all the chaos that a messy world brings, it is sometimes is hard to see and know and proclaim this Easter acclamation. In a world filled with pain and death. Attacks on people as they worship have stood out over the last year, but we also continue to see shootings at schools. There is hate for those who are different either in color, gender, age or faith or, you can fill in the blank. Where is the Good Shepherd; where are the Alleluia’s? I have also been overwhelmed realizing so much of this hate is done in the name of Christ; so much of the terrorism we face is done by those acting out what they believe is a Christian agenda.
John, throughout his Gospel, never allows the love proclaimed on Easter morning, the Grace given, the power of resurrection, indeed the truth of Jesus Christ, to dissolve into sentiment or emotion. Its expression is always revealed in commitment. In other words, love; the love we proclaim on Easter and throughout this season, is not sitting still and enjoying some good feeling, nor is it just words. No, that love is action, movement and growth. True love requires something of you; it is not just something that you receive. True love means we must stand up to hate. True love is about relationship and about God’s call to live in that relationship. True love is about obedience and about the freedom that we find when we choose God. True love is the response to God's call; to hearing his voice. This resurrection thing that requires from us that we recognize and follow it - it also calls us to be willing to stand up to the hate proclaimed even from Christians.
Freedom is an amazing thing. It is a gift in our relationship with God. Freedom, true freedom is a choice, not just to be able to do whatever we desire. Freedom, true freedom is the willing choice to join in God’s communion. True freedom is found when we choose to live, not by our own desires but instead God’s. In Baptism, you give away freedom and take on responsibility. The paradox is that the only way you can be truly free is to commit yourselves to Jesus Christ and to make his kingdom real no matter what hate we may face; what hate those around us face because of who they are. When we face hate, in the name of Christ, we know God’s kingdom and we know the freedom found in the power of resurrection.
So how do we sustain this faith, especially in this world filled with chaos? Well, God has given us each other and His Spirit. It is hard, after four weeks, to hear Alleluia in the same way we heard it on Easter Day. But through this time together gathered around this table and knowing His presence, we can come from disobedience to obedience; we can know the perfect freedom found in relationship with God. We can listen for a voice; a still small voice; the voice of a shepherd; a voice that we know and follow.
Alleluia, Christ is Risen. The Lord has risen indeed. Alleluia.