Easter #7…Series B
Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church (May12 & 13-, 2018)
Text: John 17:6-19
Title: The Feast of the Ascension…Mother’s Day…the Lord’s Prayer!!
I have Good News and I have bad news for you this evening. Let’s begin with the Bad News…The Bad News is that the Holy Spirit has given me not one but three homilies to preach this evening/morning. The Good News…all three will be mercifully brief!
Homily #1…The Feast of the Ascension. This past Thursday was Ascension Day, and I know that most of you were not in church on Ascension Day (I was not in church on Ascension Day)…normally the Burlington Convocation of Episcopal Churches would host an Ascension Day Eucharist…but not this year (because of the Bishop’s Forums held on Thursday afternoon and evening). So I feel obligated to say something about the incredibly significant feast which, unfortunately, always fall on a Thursday! The title of homily #1 is “The End of the Beginning”. When Jesus ascended into heaven, 40 days after Easter, it certainly wasn’t the end…it wasn’t even the beginning of the end…it was the end of a wondrous new beginning…the beginning of the mission and ministry of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church, which continues in this moment and will continue until Christ comes again (in power and great glory) at the conclusion of history to establish his Kingdom of Justice and peace…compassion and love in this hurting and broken world..
Homily #2…a brief reflection on Mother’s Day…Did you know that the genesis of the idea for a national holiday honoring mothers was a proclamation, written by Julia Ward Howein 1870, entitled “The Mother’s Day Proclamation”. Julia Ward Howe was a pacifist and a feminist and her proclamation was a reaction to the death and carnage of the Civil War which separated so many families (North and South) and destroyed the sacred bond between so many sons and mothers. I wonder what Julia Howe would have to say about the announcement Attorney General Jeff Sessions made in a speech in Scottsdale, AZ on Monday, when he announced that the Trump administration would depart from longstanding immigration policy, and begin to separate children from their parents who enter the US seeking asylum from violence in Central America? Previously parents together with their children, would be released and placed in detention centers while they waited to plead their case for asylum before an immigration judge. It has been estimated that thousands of families will be torn apart by the administrations’ new policy. Friends, I have one question to ask in response to the AG’s announcement: What would Jesus do…what would he say? Jesus, who was himself a refugee…who had to flee from his home in Palestine and seek asylum in Egypt…Jesus who said (in Matthew 25) “Whatever you do to the least of these sisters and brothers of mine, you do to me”. Friends this new policy is so contrary to our Christian values of compassion and love for the forgotten people the marginal people of this world…this new policy is such a violation of our Baptismal Covenant which calls us to respect the dignity and to strive for justice and peace for every human being…this new immigration policy of our government is such a blatant violation of the very thing we celebrate tomorrow/today…the sacred relationship between a child and it’s mother, that I (for one) can not keep silent…I believe as followers of Christ, we are compelled to speak!
Homily #3…The Lord’s Prayer. Our Gospel reading for this 7thand final Sunday of Easter contains a portion of what has come to be known as Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer (in John chapter 17), but I like to call it the Lord’s Prayer because this prayer, more than any other prayer, reveals his heart’s desire…his passionate will for his beloved disciples down thru the centuries. And the most astonishing thing about this astonishing prayer is that it has our names written on it. That is correct…Jesus didn’t just pray for prayed for the 12 Apostles who were gathered with him in the Upper Room to celebrate the Passover feast on the night before his passion and death…Jesus was praying for us…for you and for me and for every human being who has named the name of Jesus for the past two thousand years. (pause) I don’t know about you, but I consider the fact that Jesus prayed (and he continues to pray) for me to be Good News…very Good News…in fact, it is the essence…the heart and soul and center of the Christian Gospel of Grace!
My friends, as our Eucharistic celebration continues this evening…as we approach, once again, the Table of Grace, to enter into and experience the profound mystery of the Risen Christ “in with and under” the bread and the wine of the Holy Eucharist. let us remember that, even now…the Risen Risen Christ is praying for us, and for all victims of injustice/violence/oppression and persecution. And let us also remember…let us never forget that Jesus’ final words to his Apostle’s at his Ascension are his pledge and his sacred promise to us as well: I Will Be With You…I will BE With You (whenever my Word is spoken and heard and believed and lived)…I WILL BE WITH YOU(whenever you speak out against injustice and stand in solidarity with the least of my sisters and brothers) I WILL BE WITH YOU(whenever My Body and My Blood are shared and received in faith…I WILL BE WITH YOU…every day of your life…until the close of the ages (pause) I WILL BE WITH YOU!!