Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Days Between

20 May 2012 Easter 7B - John 17:6-19
The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, Saint Peter's at Ellicott Mills, Maryland
The Days Between
There were days
and there were days
and there were days between
polished like a golden bowl
the finest ever seen
Hearts of Summer held in trust
still tender, young and green
left on shelves collecting dust
not knowing what they mean
valentines of flesh and blood
as soft as velveteen
hoping love would not forsake
the days that lie between lie between
-Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia
The Seventh Sunday of Easter lies uncertainly between the Feast of the Ascension and the Day of Pentecost. A time between - between the disciples feeling abandoned, left behind, left on their own, and that day when the disciples were renewed, changed and forever empowered to speak the good news in ways that all could understand.

But for ten days it had to feel strange - anxious - awkward - unknowing - lost. The One  whom they had loved and lost had been restored to them forever in every place and in every time. In those days between they must have spent much time sitting in silence, praying, wondering, imagining, trying to believe that the story, the adventure of their lives, was not over but was somehow, mysteriously beginning again. Always we begin again. All ways we begin again.

Like us, this Seventh Sunday of Easter,  I want to believe they tried with every ounce of concentration in their bodies, minds and souls to recall all that he had prayed that last night with them - what we rather casually refer to as the seventeenth chapter of John - Jesus' high priestly prayer - The Gospel of the Lord, Praise to you Lord Christ.

He is praying for his disciples -  his body - his baptized - he is praying for us. I cannot ever get over the very fact of it.  Here it is Maundy Thursday, the night before Good Friday. He knows. He knows he has to die, you know he had to die. When they, when we, should have been praying for him, taking care of him, he was praying for us.

He prays that we might be as close to him as he is to the Father. He calls this eternal life. “And this is eternal life, that they may know you , the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

Eternal life. It is not something out in the future. It is not what we call the "here-after." He wants us to have eternal life here-and-now. It is a life lived with God and Jesus, here and now.

Jesus goes on to pray for our protection in this time between which is in fact eternal life. He prays for our Joy. And he prays that we be sanctified.

To be sanctified means to become more like the image of God in which we were created. It means to attain to the life God intends for all people. It means to live out our Baptismal promises: that all that we say and do will proclaim the good news of God in Christ; that we will seek and serve Christ in all persons; that we will be those people who strive for justice and peace for all people, respecting the dignity of every human being. That is, we will honestly do unto others as we would have them do unto ourselves.

Finally, Jesus prays that we be in this world but not of this world. By “world” he does not mean creation. We are a part of creation and we belong here in God’s creation. By “world” he means the reality of chaos created by humans who refuse to live a life of sanctification in God’s ways. Those who refuse God and choose a way of death over a way of life. The Gospel’s use of the word “world” forces us to see that there is creation, which is God’s reality for us, and world, which is our self-construction of destruction. Creation is from light and from love; world is about power and destruction and death.

This is why Jesus prays for us: the world is eternally seductive. Only God is eternally true.
These are days, these are days, these are days between - where we find ourselves hoping love would not forsake, the days that lie between, lie between.

So God sends us Lola. Little Lola Carole Ann Hicks is sent to us to become one of us - we who are One with Him - we who are his Body - we who are his beloved. On page 298 of the Book of Common Prayer it states that those who are united with him by Water and the Holy Spirit have eternal life here and now - this bond established by God in Holy Baptism, we are told, is indissoluble. As he comes up out of the water of the River Jordan he hears a voice - a voice from the heavens declares, "You are my Beloved - with whom I am well pleased!" That is who we are. Now and forever. Even during these days between. That is what the disciples realized. This is what we must never forget - You are God's Beloved - God is well pleased with you."

You are my Beloved
I am well pleased with you

I am God’s Beloved
God is well pleased with me

I’m gonna tell you how it’s gonna be
God’s gonna give God’s love to me
I’m gonna love God night and day
You know our love not fade away

Our Love’s bigger than a Cadillac
God ain’t never gonna take it back
God’s love’s bigger than an SUV
No one can take it away from me
You know our Love not fade away

If you don’t believe I’ve been redeemed
Then come on down to Jordan’s stream
Up in the Sky what do you see
The Holy Spirit comin’ down on me
The Holy Spirit comin’ down on me

I'm gonna tell you how it's gonna be
God’s gonna give God’s love to me
A love to last more than one day
A love that's love - not fade away
Love that's love - not fade away