Weekly Sermon Page

Knowing the Ties of Love                                                                                     5-24-2020 
                                          1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11; John 17:1-11

We come together this Memorial Day Sunday and it seems to me it is a time to pause. We need a pause in our time and lives to remember and honor lives that have gone before us, especially in service to this nation in which we live knowing freedom that has come through sacrifice. And that sacrifice speaks to our own living in ways that see and hear the needs of other lives, vulnerable and needing to be safe, and experience what speaks to them of the Holy One. God who works through us and with us, like with Jesus’ disciples and followers through the years, providing what is needed for all to live in safety and hope, even in seemingly hopeless situations and times.

The pace and movement of our society has been slowed because of the pandemic we all face widely in the world. But we also need to pause and remember those from whom we have benefitted in our journeys in faith and as having provided a path to follow as Church. And as much as I love church sanctuaries and have found much in each of beauty and meaning, my memories out of the church’s I have belonged to and served are of people, Because there have been certain people in every church that  have been who they each are in a special way that added meaning that became a part of my faith.

Today’s scriptures from Peter and John provide a pause for me as the words come through in a new way in this difficult and fractured time in which we are living. God’s word ever takes on new or deeper meaning in the tough times and the lonely hours. We need what is for today a pause that would let go of our anxiousness. Peter calls us to let go, to cast all, all, our anxiety on God. And John would have us lean in and hear Jesus’ concern and prayer for those who follow him and his way of doing the will of God.  A pause for Jesus that is different than his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and different than his time of teaching the Lord’s prayer to those close to him,  This prayer, today, which we hear is for the ones close to him walking the journeys of their faith through struggles and suffering. Jesus would have them know they are protected by God as they are led in what they do and where they go when he is  no longer with them as he has been. For he will go through death and resurrection and be with God. Jesus wants something for them, and he puts this deeply to God.  The  Father-parent God to him in his deep relationship and his own will held in God’s will. Jesus here shows the depth of relationship and the need for closeness and the knowing in that of God the Father.

This is his prayer for those who are disciples then and, I believe through the years and now. Something to wonder at and imagine in that wonder, the very power of love that would connect it all up in prayer that others get to hear. This is heart- felt  for them to know and us to hear and come to know too. It is being let into the mystery. It is about well-being of those who do the will as they do and find themselves, as did Jesus and those close to him, suffering from not being seen or heard, from ridicule, from abuse, from whatever comes that harms their well being. That is what Jesus in his seeing and his knowing wants for his disciples strengthened and helped through, held by God and connected to the life eternal that is in the now as well as the life beyond this earthly life.

Those words in 1st Peter tell us, that like those followers then in loss and fear and anxiety, we are to cast it all to God. Casting is for me about fishing. Throwing a line out there into the water to try and catch something. There is an art to it if you watch a really, experienced fly fisherman. But for some of us it is just putting it out there in what seems like the right spot. And then it is wait and try again, and then wait and try again. Maybe try a different fly. When you do catch something you either let it go or keep it. And either way it has beauty. It is something. It may provide what nourishes or it may lead you down the stream to another place. 

It seems a bit like prayer and casting out the anxieties and fears lets them go, unless we take them back and then have to let them go again and wait.  And in the waiting we wonder. Maybe we change or our conditions change. And maybe through the praying we see differently or hear differently. And maybe we remember this prayer of Jesus and know how we are held in whatever we are in for his sake.

We are not in it alone. There are others gathered as they are in Christ all over this world and in that we may continue steadfast and alert and know we are held protected that we may be one as Christ and God and the Spirit of Truth are One. Jesus knows the human anxieties, the fears, the weaknesses that need that greater power and wholeness beyond us. We cannot control our times and what we alone and as church face. We could not have expected what we are in today. But we are held in something greater than us and something that flows in Love that we can hope in and take strength in, be restored in and even be established in.  It is the Holy One we let move and move us as we know the ties of that love in prayer no matter where we are or what means we  use  in order to be close in Spirit that moves in and among and with us in our places, which are  brought together as they are now by technology to become church. Church is who we are together even if we are not in the beloved church building.

 N. T. Wright has said that “Our task in the present is to live as resurrection people in between Easter and the final day, with our Christian life, corporate and individual, in both worship and mission, as a sign of the first and a foretaste of the second.” We need to know the ties of love and not sever those. What we do and say and pray matters. We are held in the prayer of Jesus in God and with the Spirit of Truth moving and moving us. And there are those in this world far and near that need the ties of our love in prayer for them. Every life is precious and held in Love and we do all we can to keep life precious and safe. And what we feel as loss because things are not the way they were is cast out to God whose timing is not ours and will help us think anew and find new ways to be God’s children in the time in which we find ourselves. There is need all around  that is ours to help in as we can and as we are led in new ways. 

We work on how we worship safely but we also see that now is about more than us and we find new and safe ways to keep close to those who are most vulnerable. There is blessing in the now of what is held in the ties of love that help us know the One in whom we pray and have our being now and always. Amen.