June 18, 2017 the Second Sunday after Pentecost
June 11,2017 Trinity Sunday
June 4,2017 Pentecost
May 28, 2017 Ascension Sunday- The Seventh Sunday of Easter
May 25, 2017 The Feast of the Ascension
May 21, 2017 The Sixth Sunday of Easter
The Rev. Steven Metcalfe at Christ Church Rochester- 11am
As Easter coasts to an end, Jesus alludes to an increasing sense of anxiety within his community. Jesus tries to reassure his friends that, though he will be going away, he will not be lost to them: “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” I can only imagine how confused they were, certainly at least as bewildered as they have been all along. But that’s only part of it. The intensity of their community life, the new life that Jesus has brought with him, which he has given to them, now seems in jeopardy. Most importantly, they are afraid of losing this unimaginable man who has opened their hearts. Orphans…….what a forlorn and fearful word
Only this week have I come to see that “being orphaned” is an expression I can relate to throughout last year and in 2017. The country I have believed all my life exists, just as I was taught in school, on television, newspapers, or national holidays is not truly that pretty package. It is only mildly embarrassing to admit to that level of lifelong naiveté. Don’t imagine that that I am itchy to exhibit my child-like sense of reality. No. I just got the idea that maybe others might also be feeling a loss of innocence. There is a tangled mess at the top levels of our society, the other side of the coin ofroutine neglect of poor people and disinterest in ordinary citizens. Truth, justice, and the American way is the Superman myth. Influential people in high places value self enrichment above all else and our once honored institutions are stricken with paralysis or worse. It is an anxious time no matter whether the horse you’re riding is blue or red. And thosewhose horse got flimflammed are simply watching life slither and slide, here and there, feeling as dizzy as everyone else. To hold all this together low level, chronic fearfulness has cynically been prepared to for our daily bread.
So, anxiety perfumes the air with an odious and ominous scent. Do you know that there are lots of people who have only the foolish forces of this world in which to put their trust? Millions of non- church people have jumped headlong into the world of Caesar as if salvation can come from political parties, ideologies, hijacked religion or bloated military capability. So many embrace a life guide of maximum wealth, extravagant life styles, hunger for the privilege accorded to those with means, and as much control over as vast a portion of life as they imagine they have. Scripture denies that our taproot into this deceitful world will bring forth our highest good. I am always grateful to be among those who have vowed to “put my whole trust in God’s grace and love”. In God is the only actual Truth we know. As Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. We accept him as the unique incarnation of God, Love itself.
I have discovered (some might wonder what took me so long) that non of us can control the outcomes we prefer. I may participate as I choose in the drama of life, but I am not here to critique anyone else’s script. Who and what we are is not available to be fully understood. It is very freeing to be able to choose to believe that what other people think of me is none of my business. Perhaps the best we can do is treat human life as improv theater. Each actor plays off the other, moving in a direction that is not planned out, neither right nor wrong. Realitycontinually emerges as the interaction continues. Of course there are millions of these dramas going on at the same time, ranging in size from households to global geopolitical and corporate networks. Even the “powerful” cannot force reality to bend through the might of their pride. Christians can powerfully witness to the world that it’s not what we have accomplished in our time allotted, it is, rather, what kind of people we have become that will finally interest God. We promise to God and one another that we will allow ourselves to be transformed into the full stature of Christ.
Christians have thus accepted, in the exercise of our free will, to participate in our own spiritual evolution. The foundation of that choice is expressed by St. Paul when he says to the Greeks,
From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’…. Isn’t “groping for God” the same thing as becoming a person of Love.?
Nothing is outside God. Divine power is Love and there is nothing that can subvert God’s outpouring of love and goodness. This is God’s creative power which has no equal or superior. God is not so much the dictator of life, but the One who keeps the river of life flowing. Jesus talked about the “water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”
Having life in Christ can energizes us in the Way, the Truth and the Life if we so desire. God has given to us human beings the awesome ability to be conscious of life, aware of events and piecing them together in some sort of form or rational idea, even though these “ideas” are always provisional and likely not accurate. We alone have been given the biological and spiritual equipment to live in conscious relation to God : so that we would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us.
It appears to me that we are here to fulfill this sort of mission with human life. As Jesus, who is no less and no more human than you and I, has lived his life as God leads, not to get something or somewhere for himself. In him this infinite power of Divine Love has transcended the despotic ego self. Jesus promises the same Love power is available to every single human being. All have the Spirit of God, which is essentially the same as the Risen Christ, and the Holy Spirit. As we grow in that love, we can grow out of the tricky deceit of the ego and reach that higher consciousness that contributes to the transformation of us humans, reconcilingus with God and one another. In other words, being in God through the gate that is Christ, we will find better tools to avoid conflict, to accept our brothers and sisters with compassion, and trust in God rather than the nightmarish weapons too many people find so reassuring. We do not have to accept a reality based on winning and losing. The force of human will can never prevail over the power of Divine Truth.
May we release our anxiety, our wounds, our disappointments and even our rage to the God who is beyond our earthly squabbles and mortal acrimony. The world will be the world and we will be God’s loving children. Only the love we share from God in the Holy Spirit can raise us all up into the Mind of Christ.