*Due to length, today’s sermon had to be split.
The lectionary reading this morning is the passage from John. I wanted to talk about it, but at the same time I couldn’t get past the fact that Jesus refers to God as father 11 times in those 14 verses. And this comes on Mother’s Day. It, …… is something.
Consequently, I wanted to offer a little bit of balance? So, Matthew offers on verse of Jesus describing himself as a mother hen desiring to shelter her chicks.
What is curious is the context of Jesus as the mother hen, is he is effectively berating Jerusalem for killing prophets and refusing to seek the shelter he offers. Is there a hint there perhaps? A self destructive tendency to avoid the shelter offered by a mother? That perhaps when we think we have outgrown the feminine protective love that is offered, we leave ourselves vulnerable to more destructive tendencies?
In John, Jesus is once again preparing his disciples for the crucifixion and resurrection and what comes after. He is trying to point his followers to a closer relationship with God. A place where there is room for many.
It offers a passage that is often challenging. I am the way the truth and the light. You come to the father through me. This is a passage that has often been used to argue there is only one way to God and that is through belief in Jesus. It has been used to exclude and to oppress and to marginalize people of a great many faiths. I can’t deny that.
It is a passage of scripture that has led to a great deal of prayer and reflection on the part of a great many people, lay and clergy alike, trying to square these words with a heartfelt desire to live in loving and respectful relationship with people who follow a different faith.
I can’t pretend I have “the” answer. But here are my thoughts. If you profess to follow Jesus and see him as the revelation of God’s love in creation; if you confess that Jesus is a part of the Trinitarian God, then Jesus offers you the way to a deeper relationship with God. For many, believe is more than just a matter of thought. It is a way of acting. It is to doing something. To say you believe in Jesus means to view his actions; his life as a model for your own.
Jesus says he is the way. The truth, the light. If you are going to follow Jesus look to what he is doing. What he is saying. That is the path to God. What is Jesus doing? What is the way of Jesus?
Jesus is sharing meals with people ignored by the rich and the powerful. Jesus is offering healing to those wounded and pushed aside by the Roman Empire. Jesus is modeling form of Leadership that means serving and washing the feet of those who follow him. Jesus calls on us to love one another. To love our neighbour. He doesn’t tell us to demand an accounting of our neighbour’s beliefs before determining if they are on the inside or outside.
I see Jesus shining a light on the path to a deeper relationship with God and God’s creation. It comes through love and service. It is a way of compassion, justice and mercy.
Tensions are high these days. We live with fear and anger and anxiety over what the future holds for us. How we live with one another is critical. We have decisions to make.
In Matthew and Luke, Jesus berates Jerusalem for killing the prophets who called for a society of justice and mercy. Prophets who warned that the injustice and greed that had become the norm in their world would lead their city and country to ruin. He then says that like a mother hen he offers shelter from the storm ahead, but they refuse it.
A mother’s love, one that puts the health of its chicks above its own.
What seems to lead to the world God desires for us? Insisting there is one way to live and to believe that leaves everyone else on the outside looking in? Or a call for love and service and justice that values the lives and welfare of all around us. One that values relationship and life?
MV 90 “Don’t Be Afraid (X2)
Don’t be afraid.
My love is stronger,
my love is stronger than your fear.
Don’t be afraid.
My love is stronger
and I have promised,
promised to be always near.
VU 356 “Seek Ye First the Kingdom”
1) Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and God’s
righteousness, and all these things shall be
added unto you. Hal-le-lu-, hal-le-lu-jah.
2) Ask and it shall be given unto you; seek and
you shall find; knock and the door shall be
opened unto you. Hal-le-lu-, hal-le-lu-jah.
3) We do not live by bread alone, but be
every word that proceeds from the
mouth of God. Hal-le-lu-, hal-le-lu-jah.~
VU 331 “The Church’s One Foundation”
1) The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord,
we are his new creation by water and the Word;
from heaven he came and sought us that we might ever be
his living servant people, by his own death set free.
2) Called forth from every nation, yet one o’er all the earth;
one charter of salvation: one Lord, one faith, one birth.
One holy name professing and at one table fed,
to one hope always pressing, by Christ’s own Spirit led.
3) Though with a scornful wonder the world sees us oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping; their cry goes up, “How long?”
But soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song.
4) Mid toil and tribulation, and tumult of our war,
we wait the consummation of peace forevermore;
till with the vision glorious our longing eyes are blest,
and the great church victorious shall be the church at rest.
5) We now on earth have union with God the Three in One,
and share through faith communion with those whose rest is won.
Oh, happy ones, and holy! Lord, give us grace that we
like them, the meek and lowly, on high may dwell with thee.~
“Go Now In Peace”
Go, now in peace.
Never be afraid.
God will go with you, each
Hour of ev’ry day.
Go, now in faith,
Steadfast, strong and true.
Know He will guide you, in
All you do.
Go, now in love, and
Show you believe
Reach out to others, so
All the world can see.
God, will be there,
Watching from above
Go now in peace…..in
Faith….and in love……
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streaming license number 20369698, Size A.