I enjoyed preaching this sermon. It was one where everything felt right; where people left saying..."good sermon pastor; no, I mean it, really good sermon." As if all the other times they say it, they don't mean it. From now on I'll only count the people who say it twice. Anyway...it reminds me how preaching is an event--that's it truly is a conversation, a dialogue. Because I could preach this tomorrow, or you could read it today, and it could fall flatter than...well Kansas. I love that Spirit that blows when the time is right...
I think I was in about third grade; I was running on the pavement during recess and fell…not one of those fall and dust yourself off kind of falls, but the kind where you can’t get back up and you look down and blood is running down your leg. I remember seeing my knee and seeing not skin, but little tiny rocks sitting in a rather deep hole that the concrete that created. And for some reason I did not cry; I calmly let the playground aide walk me into the school, get something to clean me up, and call my mom. I sat there patiently, trying to be strong, and not to pay attention to the gauze at my feel. Until, I looked up and saw my mom walk through the door. And instantly I started to sob—and the tears fell down my face, and as much as a nine year old could, I fell apart. Seeing my mom, broke down all those defenses and barriers, and wanting to be strong, and I just let go.
Now, it’s not so much with my mom when that happens, but with Steve. I’ll be having a really bad day…one where the kids are crazy and I still have a sermon to write and I want to eat everything in the house…and I can manage to hold it together, leave everyone mostly unharmed, and the chocolate untouched…until he walks through the door. And in an instant all those defenses and barriers melt away, and I just let go, and cry and want nothing more than to be held and cared for.
That’s home…a place, a person, a situation where there is no longer anything keeping you from the other. There is no longer fences and words of hatred. There is no longer me and you…but there is us, standing together, living together, loving each other. Stay with me here on this rough transition…Jesus is our home. He is the one who has shattered those terrible walls between us; he is the one who has built bridges and torn down fences; he is the one who sees us after we’ve fallen and wounded our knees, our pride, our heart…and who reaches down, picks us up, and holds us close to his chest, like a mommy cradles her learning to walk toddler. Jesus is our home—the place where we no longer fear the chaos, the pain, the fall, and where all those defenses and barriers crumble and we can simply let go, and live in that peace that he so desperately longs for us.
Except…and I’m not sure about you…but, that peace that he claims for us, doesn’t exactly feel readily available. I don’t think leaking oil wells and dying fish, or bombs in Times Square and two deadly wars in the Middle East or high unemployment and low market values leave many of us deeply feeling that peace which surpasses all understanding. And, at the very least it leaves me doubting if Jesus really knows what he’s talking about.
But, here’s the thing…remember last week we heard Jesus’ Last Lecture: that we’re to love one another. This week, Jesus is in the exact same position. He is still just hours away from being handed over to the authorities, and days away from being crucified…and yet he still says to his dearest friends “do not let your hearts be troubled. For my peace I give to you…” What if? What if Jesus knows a little more than I thought? What if Jesus knows exactly what’s going to happen—that he will end up dying on a cross, that the disciples will suffer at the hands of their enemies, that we will experience pain and loss and skinned knees and broken hearts? What if he knew all that, and still knew exactly what we needed?
We needed someone to walk with us. We needed someone to journey with us as we fall on the playground and as we venture out into the world. We need someone who will look at us with all the defenses and barriers that we can muster and can walk through the door, look us in the eyes and there is nothing we can do but let go. Because that’s what we have…we’ve been given the most amazing of gifts—the Spirit who journeys alongside us, who holds our hands through the valleys and shadows of death and who emerges on the other side, showing us the new life at our fingertips.
Jesus knows exactly what a painful world this can be. But, he also refused to let it consume him, or us. Do not let your hearts be troubled, he says. Know that death is absolutely not the end; pain is not what will define you; instead…instead I will. And even though I am leaving, you are not alone; I send to you a friend, a partner, an advocate, a Spirit that will be your home…a home without walls, without barriers…a home where your defenses will fade away and you can simply let you.
That Spirit is in this very place this morning. What if we listened to her? What if we moved out of the way and let her blow at will and create among us the home that each one of us so desperately needs? What if this place became the place, where you would walk through those doors and immediately your shoulders would loosen, your heart would quicken, your soul would awaken? What if you ascended those stairs and the walls from the week would crumble and your defenses would fade? What if you walked down this aisle and saw Jesus sitting that middle pew over there, you felt the Spirit encircle your body, and in an instant you let go, and the tears began to fall…and here in this place your heart was no longer troubled and peace overwhelmed you and in a moment God picked you up, brushed you off, and held you close?
Here is a promise…the Spirit blows among you. Now…what if?