Sunday, April 26, 2015

Easter 4, 2015: Receive the grace of God

Lectionary: Acts 4:5-12; Psalm 23; 1 John 3:16-24; John 10:11-18
Preacher: The Rev Dr. Valori Mulvey Sherer, Rector

I’m glad that the Psalm for today is #23. Isn’t it lovely? It’s such a familiar, comforting prayer which is why it’s almost always chosen as the psalm in our burial office, the service which marks the death of a love we held dear. The words and images in this psalm comfort and soothe us as we are reminded that there is someone always looking out for us, our Shepherd, who is God so we have nothing to fear.

At the very moment we are experiencing great loss, or the fear of a great loss, this psalm assures us that we can lack nothing because of the abundance of God who is there with us. When our world is shaken by tragedy or loss this psalm reminds us that God invites us to draw near and our great and generous host bids us to relax in the soft grass, to breathe out, and gaze upon the peaceful waters nearby.

When I hear this psalm, I picture myself laying in the grass with my head resting in my folded hands staring up at puffy clouds as they meander across a Carolina blue sky listening as the water gurgles gently over the river rocks nearby.

Life will always present us with moments that are difficult, moments that bring up pain, or fear, or anger, or resentment. Sometimes it feels like those moments might destroy us and our bodies, minds, and hearts feel weighed down. The burden is a heavy one.

Then we pray this psalm and we remember that God never left our side. God is there with us, showing us the way to healing and restoration and protecting us from whatever threatens to harm us even when it is we harming ourselves.

When the chaos of life swirls without and within us there is our Shepherd, waiting, smiling, and showing us the way to the verdant pasture beside the still waters. A flash of joy lights us up as we see the feast that has been laid out there - cooked up just for us. We hear the familiar voice of our Shepherd inviting us to come, to nourish our bodies, rest our minds, and fill our souls from the bounty of God that is there simply waiting for us to take and eat it.

I picture this tables set out on a flat area in the grass. The water runs along one side and a great green pasture spreads out on the other side. The table has a fresh, white cloth. The flames of the candles on the table dance in the soft breeze but never go out. It is decorated with vases of flowers and herbs.

The food is sumptuous and there are goblets of water and wine, already full, at every seat - and there are lots of seats - because eating a feast in the realm of God is done in community. It’s a family meal where no one is lonely, no one is left out of the conversation. Everyone has plenty to eat, our cups are running over, and joy abounds.

Then, to show us just how much we matter God anoints our heads with oil something reserved for the moment someone really important, like a king or a queen, is marked as chosen by God. At that moment, when the oil touches our foreheads, we feel the power of God’s love enter us and course through our bodies like light breaking into darkness. As the peace of God fills us, we close our eyes, lift our faces heavenward open our arms and our hearts and receive the grace God is lavishing on us.

Then we understand… We are the cup and we are overflowing. And it suddenly hits us - of course! The goodness and mercy of God will always accompany us, every moment of every day of our lives, because we are the dwelling place of God!

God dwells in us and we in God forever and for ever more.

Therefore fellow children of God, let us love, not just in word or speech, but in truth and action. Let us ask boldly for what we need then faithfully receive all that God has ready and is waiting to give us. Let us really love one another as we have been commanded to do for God dwells in us and we in God.

Listen! Hear the voice of our Shepherd calling us by name in this Holy Communion bidding us to be one body, one Spirit in Christ.

Let us pray…

Grant us, O God, to follow where you lead, remembering that we can lack nothing and have nothing to fear, because we dwell with you forever. Amen.

1 comment:

Thesis writing service said...

God is everywhere... he will bless all