Sunday, April 19, 2015

April 19 (Easter 3) Sermon

Breath of God inspire us,
Renew our faith
Restore our vision
Revive our love.

Breath of God inspire us,
Repair our broken-ness
Redeem our situation.
Resurrect our deadness

Breath of God come,
Restore us. Amen.
(by David Adam)

Jesus had been seen.
Mary reported it. Peter saw the empty tomb.
Cleopas & the other disciple on the road to Emmaus experienced Jesus.
But when the gathered disciples see him, they are afraid.

It’s a ghost. They are terrified. He tells them peace – shalom, but they don’t get it.

They are still living with fear.
Only after watching Jesus eat do they get it, or at least begin to get it.

Jesus explains again the words he spoke; he puts his life in perspective through what Scripture says. But I don’t think they get it until that shalom, that peace enters their hearts, for peace is an inside job (Nick Nolte!). 

Once there was a small monastery led by a very wise abbot. A young man, who had recently entered the monastery, was having a hard time adjusting to the monastic life. He was constantly complaining and criticizing. The older monks of the community had grown tired of his constant whining and went to the abbot with their concerns about the young novice.

One morning the abbot sent the novice to fetch some salt. When the novice retuned, the abbot instructed the unhappy monk to put the salt in a glass of water and drink it. The novice did as he was instructed. "How does it taste?" the abbot asked. "Bitter!" spit the novice.

The abbot smiled. "Get some more salt and follow me."

The abbot and the novice, clutching another handful of salt, walked to a small lake near the monastery. "Throw the salt into the lake." Again, the novice did as the abbot asked. "Now," Father Abbot said, "take a drink from the lake."

As the water dripped down the young man's chin, the abbot asked, "How does it taste?"

"Sweet and clean," the young man, said wiping his mouth on his sleeve.

"Do you taste the salt?"  "No," the novice said.

The abbot sat next to the serious young man - who so reminded the abbot of himself many years before - and explained, "Brother, the pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same. But the bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, when you hurt, when you feel broken, the only thing you can do is enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake."

In the Gospel today, Jesus enlarges the disciples understanding to get them unstuck from their fear and to live into the peace of Christ.

Living into that peace that Jesus gives, is the light and hope of his resurrection, which enables us to become that lake that can absorb the hard and difficult times of our lives, the salt, in order for us to taste the sweet, clear water of love, reconciliation, peace and mercy that are part of every one of our lives.

It is our Easter faith that enables us to transform the pain in just a glass, just a drop, into the hope of becoming a lake in which the compassion and forgiveness of God springs forth in peace. Let me end with some words from Archbishop Desmond Tutu on living into that peace in our lives, words I first read on my flight back from Mozambique last year:

“Each one of us can make a contribution. Too frequently we think we have to do spectacular things. Yet if we remember that the sea is actually made up of drops of water and each drop counts, each one of us can do our little bit where we are. Those little bits can come together and almost overwhelm the world. And so it is important to try to be senders of peace. Each one of us can be an oasis of peace.

When you are sitting in a traffic jam, you are usually fuming and angry and upset and frustrated, and probably annoyed with a few of the drivers behaving very badly. Imagine if instead of wasting all of that energy negatively like that, we tried a more positive way: imagine yourself as an oasis of peace, and imagine there's ripples that move away from that center of peace and touch others.

If there were more centers of that kind of calm and peace we would be surprised, because you'd discover that instead of your blood pressure rising as it usually does in a traffic jam, you'd breathe more deeply, more slowly, and you'd begin to have good thoughts.

My grandson used to say, 'Are you thinking good thoughts?" If he'd done something wrong, he'd say, "Granddad, are you thinking good thoughts?" He doesn't know just how close he was in fact to the truth. In thinking good thoughts, we begin to affect our attitudes, in a very real way.

We affect our health as well, because the calmer you are, the better it is for your metabolism. When you begin to lose your temper, the body begins to get ready either for running away or for fighting, and so the metabolism changes, and you have things moving away from your stomach and rushing into your bloodstream, getting ready for running away or for fighting.

In thinking good thoughts, the opposite happens: a placidity overcomes you. Generally most of us, when you are not rushed, when you are not frustrated, do tend to make better judgments than when you are rushed and upset.”  

May we in our lives become a lake, an oasis, a place where the peace of Christ rests richly & then let it ripple out from us.  Amen.

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