Saturday, April 14, 2012

Let Love Live Again!

RCL Easter 2B
15 April 2012

Saint Faith’s Anglican Church
Vancouver BC

            Commuting from Surrey to Vancouver takes at least thirty-five to sixty minutes every morning.  While it is important to keep track of the traffic and to drive defensively, I have discovered that the commute is not wasted time.  From time to time I listen to interesting reports and interviews on CBC Radio One and Two as well as hearing new music.  My tastes are eclectic, so I enjoy the range of new music whether classical, popular, folk or country.

            This past week one song in particular caught my attention.  The singer is Johnny Reid, a Scottish immigrant to Canada who has made it big in the country music scene both here in Canada and in the United States.  His newest song, “Fire It Up”, holds within it one way of reflecting on the mystery of Thomas’ experience of the risen Christ we remember today.  Let’s play the music video.

            Have you ever known anyone who has suffered a loss that seems utterly senseless and irredeemable?

            I have --- twice.  During my final year in seminary a two-year-old child drowned in an accident that would not have happened had the Ford Motor Company installed a simple device that would have prevented a car from slipping into reverse if the door were slammed shut while the motor was running.  The child that drowned had been a miracle baby for a couple who had been told that they would never have any children.  This event brought the entire seminary community together to surround the couple with love, with sorrow, with compassion and with shared grief.

            During our first year in Canada we received a telephone call from a member of our former parish in Colorado.  He told us that one of the young men I had prepared for confirmation had come home drunk, had an argument with his father and then taken a gun and shot himself.  In one moment of anger an entire life of promise ended and a family was left with all the guilt and anger that such a death can cause.  But the parish community rallied around them and held them in the embrace of a community of concern and shared grief.

            And though it took some time for both set of parents, their hearts said, “Fire it up.”  And their minds said, “Fire it up.”  And their souls said, “Fire it up.”  And love lived again.

            Have you ever known anyone who has had been held in the bondage of prejudices that were unexamined?

            I have ---- twice.  In my final year of high school the federal court ordered that my high school be de-segregated by means of bussing African-American students from  their neighbourhood to our school.  The fall term did not start well and there was a fight in the lunch room between the new students and the more established students.  As a member of the Student Council I was chosen to be part of a team to try to mediate the situation and reduce the tensions.  It was my first taste of the consequences of prejudice, a prejudice my family had contributed to some three hundred years earlier by being slave-owners.  But the school community rallied together and we began to rebuild relationships.

            During my second year of seminary I experienced what is best described as a burn-out.  The only people who recognized what was going on and who reached out to me were two women who represented aspects of the new church I had not been prepared to accept.  One was a candidate for ordination to the priesthood from Canada and the other a lesbian single mother studying to become a Christian education director.  They knew how I then felt about the ordination of women and the place of gay and lesbian disciples of Christ in the life of the church.  But they reached across our divisions and rescued me from disaster.

            And though it took some time, my heart said, “Fire it up.”  And my mind said, “Fire it up.”  And my soul said, “Fire it up.”  And love lived again.

            Have you ever known someone who believed so much in a dream that the ending of that dream brought them to doubt and despair?

            We have --- today.  In the gospel of John Thomas seems to be within the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples.  When Jesus decides to go to Jerusalem, it is Thomas who recognizes the danger and who rallies the other disciples by saying, “Let us go and die with him in Jerusalem.”  But as the week unfolds, Thomas soon runs away like most of the inner circle.  He is not to be found at the cross.  He is not to be found when the disciples gathered on that first Easter, shut away for the fear of the Jewish authorities, have their experience of the risen Jesus.

            Yet I find it remarkable that the community of disciples are not prepared to abandon Thomas.  Despite his caustic remarks and his refusal to accept their message, Thomas is included in their gathering a week later.  Before his doubting eyes, he sees the Lord whom he was prepared to follow until death and he believes.  If we are to believe the legends told about Thomas, he travels to the east and becomes an apostle to the Indian people living in the southwestern part of the Indian subcontinent.  There he dies.

            And though it took some time, his heart said, “Fire it up.”  And his mind said, “Fire it up.”  And his soul said, “Fire it up.”  And love lived again.
            My sisters and brothers, we all know people who have suffered and are suffering incredible losses, some from death, some from the effects of changing health and financial situations.  But they are not alone.  God has given us to them so that they might live again in the light of our risen Christ.

           We all know people who are entangled in the web of unexamined prejudices and fears and perhaps even hate.  But they are not alone.  God has given us to them so that they might live again in the light of our risen Christ.

            We all know people who live in the shadows of profound disappointments and in the grips of a skepticism that leaves little room for hope.  But they are not alone.  God has given us to them so that they might live again in the light of our risen Christ.

            Christ has died, so let our hearts be fired up!  Christ is risen, so let our minds be fired up!  Christ will come again, so let our souls be fired up!  Let love live again!  Amen.

Audio link:

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