Homily Glen Rhodes April 22 2012 Rev. Malcolm Spencer
Deepening the relationship
Sometimes after a party after most people have left one or two may stay and why is that? I think that they want to have a closer relationship to the host, perhaps to share some situation or even difficulty or simply to have the one on one time impossible when a large group is around. This experience shows us that we often seek a relationship even outside of families when we can let our hair down and where we know it will go no further. I have often thought this was the point of Jesus’s many post resurrection appearances. He was no ghost he was someone who sought a relationship with the disciples and others in on ongoing way. He came in Peace and he wanted them to know this was the same wounded Jesus who even ate breakfast with them. This the proof that Divinity is near us not far away, we are no hopelessly lost to God’s love in fact God will go to great extremes to lure us into a relationship that will tell us who we are and what we are and allow us to share the mission and the work of the risen Christ among us now. That is the point to deepen the relationship to say that you can’t get this intimacy with a ghost.
Often it is not easy to see this in ourselves this yearning for this relationship – we live cluttered lives sometimes worshipping at the temple of the mall thinking shopping can help our deepest hungers and we forget our Baptism which says we are part of the Kingdom of God, we are in the family of the saviour and we represent that family in good times and bad. The key to our hope is to stay with that family and pray to seek a blessing to seek the wonder of Easter.
Like all family life we have times when we are not sure about how things are going and we doubt that the future might be very good. We often are at our wits end and feel far from an intimate relationship with the risen Saviour, the wounded one who lived and loved and healed and showed compassion and died out of love of us and rose to embrace us again and empowers us to find signs of that love in our community. We are call to persist in this love, persist in this relationship.
Our word belief comes from the German word Liebe which is about love not about accepting a set of propositions or an old story but about a relationship. Our creeds should really start by saying God Loves the world; I love God and seek to be near God though my life.
Jesus came to deepen the relationship with us because we are children of God part of the family. Let us keep in touch as they say through prayer and reading and being read by the scriptures and even by the newspaper which often surprises us with stories that show God is near.
Courage is just around the corner.
The other reason that Jesus showed himself as the risen Lord is to give the disciples courage. And Acts tells us about the courage that Peter and John had to go out and tell the story of Jesus as they healed a man in Jesus name and took no credit but said it came from Jesus. This is courage Christians need today to face the attack upon the poorest among us and on the environment. I meet so many people who say they would like to do more for the environment but they find it hard. Recycle yes but who can afford an electric car and the bus and train are inconvenient. We don’t need any more information about how much the Earth is suffering from the many humans who live here. Whole species of life have become extinct and many more are endangered. Our aboriginal ancestors in this country left a pristine natural environment with animals and fish and plants and believed that they were in relationship with plants, lakes and animals. We can’t quite get around this but we are animals too, rather clever but not clever enough to not soil our own nest. Yet in Courage that comes from knowing the love of the creator for the creation we are able to tackle these issues with gusto. Yes we can do that out of love not from anger just as we build a just human community in love not from anger. Of course we can be angry about many situations we feel are unjust and the way the earth is treated. Rachel Carson many years ago needed some anger to write of the dangers of DDT
And yet she often spoke lovingly about the natural order and her desire to see it treated with respect. She was fond of saying she would like to see all children have a deep and close relationship with the natural world.
As we go through change in our congregation we can remember that we are the community of the risen Christ in our neighbourhood. We are those whom the community sees as the people who understand the family of God and how wide it is. When we welcome a new pastor let us also welcome each other and embrace again the community with love. Let this be a time for us to renew that relationship with Our risen Lord who will breakfast who will give us courage and the promise of a long, long, long relationship that will fuel our hope our compassion and our desire And yearning for the holy in our life. It is here – this is promise of Easter. It is the dearest desire of God to care for and love us all.
I was quite impressed by this thought of the marine biologist Rachael Carson who thought that it is the children who need to find that assurance that they belong to the world that they have a place to not just learn and play but to live out meaningful lives in a rich relationship with the natural order and discover what spiritual treasures there are in the seasons of faith which call us all back into the forces which God uses to renew the earth and renew us and invites us to that profoundly personal and deeply happy relationship with Jesus our risen saviour and our Lord. He seeks us and he knows us –this is no ghost this is a living present Lord.
Let us not fear the future - it is bright – the sunlight we have seen this spring is the harbinger of summer- this is the summer of Glen Rhodes. Let us rejoice and take heart as we go forward this year.
Let us pray
Sacrificial and loving God you have given us a sign of great love and hope –help us to open our hearts to you and to love as you have loved and keep us ever in your love.
In Jesus Name we Pray. Amen