Sermon Easter 6B

May 13, 2012 at 8:21 am Leave a comment

Easter 6B
May 13, 2012

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Whenever I read or hear these verses from John chapter 15,
I think of a special group of men.
These are my college friends, four men that were involved with me in the music department
at Grove City College,
when we formed a singing group we called ‘The Grovesmen.’
We sing mostly gospel and barbershop music,
although I’ve gotten them to sing an arrangement of ‘Beautiful Savior,’
as a nod to my Lutheran heritage.
We did this all through college,
and recorded a tape back then,
and have talked for almost twenty years about recording a CD,
with no success.
We all have families now, you see,
and callings, and busy lives.
But every year in the summer, for eighteen years running,
we get together for a weekend with our families.

We play horseshoes.
Some of us play better than others.
We talk. We eat and drink. We reminisce.
We enjoy each others’ kids.
We pray.
And we sing at whoever’s church we’re closest to.
Usually the same songs we sang almost twenty years ago.
We’re pretty good.
We miss a few chords, but most of them we get, and when we get them,
the chords ring out as clear and true as only men in harmony can sing them.
I sing bass, although my bass range is going away.
There is a pianist to accompany,
although we’re not quite sure how often he practices.
Usually the high school choir director
or the barbershop chorus director leads us.
What is so unique about this group is the lack of any discernible superior in the group.
We’ve been together so long we know our weaknesses and strengths,
and we love each other, so we’re more than glad to subordinate our egos
to the strength of the others.
If there is any leader in the group, I dare say it would be Jesus Christ.
For he is why we sing.
That’s one of the ways I have experienced the community that Jesus envisions for his disciples
in the fifteenth chapter of John.
For without Jesus’ visible, tangible presence among the community of disciples,
what is to prevent them from becoming just another group of people,
with arguments over ‘who is the greatest,’ ‘who is in charge,’ ‘who gets their way?’
It is Jesus’ living Spirit, who is to be present among the disciples,
who is to rule in the community.
He remains the center.
When the Grovesmen sing,
we sing in a semicircle, towards a focal point,
and we listen to each other,
and occasionally we look towards one person who is keeping us together.
But, again, we don’t have a designated leader.
Except for Jesus.

The Christian community is to be bound together by living in Jesus’ love,
his unconditional and self-sacrificing love for us.
If we follow that command to live in his love,
he calls us ‘friends.’
We are his friends and each other’s friends through him.
It seems a rather bizarre statement for Jesus to make:
‘You are my friends if you do what I command you,’
but if friends cannot trust each other to help each other in need,
then there is no friendship.

Are there sometimes stresses in the friendship?
Of course there are.
It’s tense to put 26 people in one place for a weekend.
And that’s what we’re at, with wives and children and all.
It’s tense to put aside one precious weekend a year,
with family and church and work obligations,
It’s tense especially after we’ve sung, when the women have been keeping the children
and the children are tired
and it’s time to take the yearly photograph of the entire group.
But we get through it.

Maybe you’ve had similar experiences of friendship in your life.
In your family.
In a group of women who meet to scrapbook or read together or pray.
In a Bible Study.
In a military unit committed to each other through life or death.
On an athletic team where there are no egos, but simply a group of men or women
striving toward a common goal.
In a group of friends who meet regularly, to share what has happened since the last time,
because they have been bound together.
Bound together by love,
and if it’s a Christian community,
because they have been bound together by a common baptism and by love of the Lord.
The Lord Jesus is still our reigning Lord and friend,
who we are all striving to follow,
and who reveals everything he has heard from his Father,
bringing us into communion with the One with whom he is in perfect communion.
This is God’s vision for the Church.
We fall short, but we are raised up to acknowledge him as both our Lord and friend
and to strive to know him and each other so well
that among us there are no egos, there are no leaders,
except him,
and those who exercise responsibility exercise it humbly in his name.
May we be so blessed as to believe this to be true and to do it.

Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

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Sermon Easter 5B – ‘Abide in Me’ Bad Church Signs or Why we still need Luther

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