As we prepare to begin another year together, we renew our hope in Jesus’ leadership. We face our fears that the world is falling apart and dare to hope that in Christ there can be an end to captivity and division. We dare to hope to be freed and brought together. We dare to hope for the new creation about which prophets and visionaries have testified. We dare to hope for the truth to finally prevail. As we face the terrors and troubles of our times, we dare to hope for a revelation that in Christ, all things will be well.
At the end of our Gospel passage from Mark today, Jesus gives some perplexing teaching: “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus puts it this way as he preaches the sermon on the mount, “You are the salt of the earth.” What does it mean to have a salty faith? How are we to live out this call to saltiness?
Hear again these words from the letter to the Ephesians: “I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.” The writer of Ephesians prays that his hearers will be filled with the fullness of God. In the Gospel story today, Jesus takes five barley loaves and two fish and fills the bellies of 5,000 people. Twelve baskets are filled with the leftover pieces. The good news is that God offers us fullness.
Summer brings warm days which slow us down – Moving slowly, eating early and late, napping at midday.
In our southern city, it is as if the earth itself is calling us to slow down, dragging on our arms and legs.
Jesus sends his disciples out to preach repentance, but I do not think he means for them or us to preach condemnation. As Jesus sends his disciples out empty-handed, I wonder if he also means for us to travel lightly, without so many assumptions about who is right and who is wrong. Perhaps our mission is to preach repentance in a different way, inviting each other to return to God and experience a change of heart.
In the Gospel lesson we just heard from Mark, Jesus’ disciples are shouting. In the middle of the lake, in the midst of a howling gale, in a boat that is beginning to sink, they shout at Jesus, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” These are words that could come easily out of our own mouths. We, too, have known storms in our lives, storms where it seemed that chaos had the upper hand. Teacher, do you not care that we are drowning and perishing? Today, we gather in this place that is sometimes called a sanctuary, perhaps wondering if this is a safe place. We may be wondering if God is going to be here for us. I believe that in the middle of the maelstrom, in the tumult of the tempest, God is with us. God has the power to still the storm, but more importantly God has the love to open our hearts and calm our fears. God is still with us.
From the Rev. Joe Hensley, rector, St. George’s Episcopal Church Fredericksburg, VA | Fourth Sunday of Easter Year B, April 26, 2015 “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” There are few other words in scripture that are more comforting. I have said them at the bedside of sick and dying persons. I have […]
From the Rev. Joe Hensley, rector, St. George’s Episcopal Church Fredericksburg, VA | Third Sunday of Easter Year B, April 19, 2015 Peace be with you. These are the risen Jesus’ first words to his disciples as he appears to them late on that Easter Day. These are the words we share with one another […]
Palm Sunday Homily from the Rev. Joe Hensley, Mar 29, 2015 Hosannah! Hosannah in the highest! Today, Palm Sunday, we hear these words with new ears. We sing or say them every week when we celebrate the Eucharist together. Today we remember that the crowds who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem shouted those words from Psalm […]