Easter 5 Homily By The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbriydge, GA, 24 April 2016
RCL Year C: Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 148; Revelation 21:1-6 ; John 13:31-35
At the last supper Judas goes out to betray Jesus,
& Jesus gives us the command, the essential ingredient to nourish life in here & beyond our red doors:
“Love one another.”
Beloved Brothers & Sisters, you & I know the love we share in this “happening community where we live God's love”. We subtly promote this love by wearing our distinctive T-shirt, as you see modeled here by one of my helpers.Here's another red T-shirt with a different message. What does it tell you about the ideals of the wearer? [Someone who cares about God's creatures. Thank you, Humane Society & all animal support groups for the loving work you do for God's handiwork.]
What do you think of seeing purple & gold with a cat's pawprint? Of course Bainbridge High. Check the back! We see a different reality than our home team! Things aren't always as they look.
Thank you T-shirt models!
What does this shirt say about life? When life gets “Abby Normal” it's helpful to have a good laugh. [It's from a line in the Mel Brooks spoof "Young Frankenstein.] Laughter is a good medicine, a gift of love from God that can bring peace – peace the world cannot give. Love is the stabilizing force God gives us to make peace possible.
In our Gospel today, Jesus knows life will destabilized quickly. He gives us the simple rule: “love one another”. How do we love when the chaos of change surrounds us? How do we respond in love when no T-shirt is funny enough to give us peace?
Remember: The Rev. Charles Hoskins of Savannah drilled this into us almost every time he preached here [say it with me if you remember]
“God is good all the time. All the time God is good.
But God is never easy.”
It is not easy for Peter to swallow the invitation in his vision in our 1st lesson: eat what is unclean. Peter says nothing profane has entered his mouth. We know the profane words that came out of his mouth not long before this when he denied knowing Jesus. The very night Jesus gives this new command to love each other: Judas betrays Jesus
the disciples desert him
& Peter denies him.
Everything's in chaos!
Suddenly everything changes with Jesus' resurrection & the Holy Spirit's coming to live in the disciples.
Even we, the unclean Gentiles, receive the Holy Spirit & are welcomed into the community that loves. Suddenly people criticizing Peter see with new eyes & praise God, who makes all things new, who lives among us & wipes away tears even in chaos. God is good all the time. All the time God is good. But God is never easy.
Chaos is never easy, yet it is integral to positive transformation. It's like what Paul tells us & the Corinthians about the body: One body has many members, yet is one body. Each part is important & cannot say to another part, “I don't need you.”
Chaos is part of the wholeness of life. Chaos scientists see order in chaos. As Dr. Margaret Wheatley says in a keynote address1: “A system in chaos is defined as a system that, from moment to moment, is totally unpredictable. You cannot predict where it is going next. [Yet with]...three-dimensional space on high speed computers, scientists... plot the movement of a system in chaos. When plotted on a two-dimensional scale, it looked totally unpredictable... biserk ...converted into multidimensional space, you could track many variables at once. The system, from moment to moment, zoomed from one part of the screen to another. You couldn't predict what would happen next. But over time, you...realize...the system conformed to a boundary. It had an inherent shape that it did not violate. It would not move out of this boundary...
“You cannot see the order in chaos if you are looking moment to moment...if you are managing individual behaviors. These strange attractors draw attention to one of the great paradoxes of chaos science...you get order without predictability.”2
We like predictability. We associate it with peace. We have rules to help us have predictability at home, school, work,3 rules from our doctors, the city, the county, the Internal Revenue Service, rules to help secure peace for us. We know some rule enforcers wear distinctive uniforms to help keep the peace at home & abroad. We also see how often we break away from peace, from the love God intends for each of us & all of us.
How ready are we to live into the chaotic reality of new life with the risen Jesus,4 who welcomes us unclean, unpredictable Gentiles? To embrace God's “love that overcomes death in all its forms, we [must] be aware of [God's] power that enables us to love in a way that is active, not re-active,” as The Rev. David Somerville of our diocese says.
God's Love increases peace – the peace only God can give. Embrace peace. It's all around you even in chaos. It's in unexpected places....
You can see peace symbols hanging on a tree on Boxwood Drive.
How do we help enhance the peace that
only God can give?
Ted, please “model” this answer & sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth”4.
Butterworth, Susan. “By This Everyone Will Know That You Are My Disciples, Easter 5 (C) -2016”. http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2016/04/05/by-this-everyone-will-know-that-you-are-my-disciples-easter-5-c-2016/ . Accessed: 21 April 2016.
“A New Commandment” http://www.sermons4kids.com/a_new_commandment.htm Accessed: 22 April 2016.
Somerville, The Rev. David. “Childish Love, Human Love, Divine Love: A Reflection on the Gospel, John 13:31-35, The New Commandment to Love One Another for 24 April. The Fifth Sunday of Easter.”
Wheatley, Margaret, EdD. “Chaos and Complexity: What Can Science Teach?” http://margaretwheatley.com/articles/Wheatley-Chaos-and-Complexity.pdf Accessed 23 April 2016.
1 Wheatley, Margaret, EdD. “Chaos and Complexity: What Can Science Teach?” http://margaretwheatley.com/articles/Wheatley-Chaos-and-Complexity.pdf Accessed 23 April 2016.
4 "Let There Be Peace on Earth" Jill and Sy Miller