Sermon – June 8, 2014
The Rev. Rebecca S. Myers, CSW
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Corbin, KY
Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:20-22
Please be seated.
When I was in 8th grade, over 40 years ago, I had to write about myself for my health class. When asked about my future, I said I wanted to be a social worker. I’d read many biographies about the work of famous women. While I loved Clara Barton and Florence Nightingale, it was Jane Addams’ work and the settlement houses she established that really caught my attention. I said I wanted to be a social worker.
When I was 16, I was selected for a Girl Scout Wider Opportunity event in Chicago. We lived on a college campus and each participant had a volunteer job for two weeks with a social service agency. This was perfect for me. A highlight was visiting Jane Addams’ Hull House.
So in high school while I still wanted to help people, I was also interested in politics. Now, I was on the 10 year, parttime, kids and husbands college plan. When I finally had the opportunity to go to college fulltime in 1981, I chose a human service major that combined family development and politics.
Early in the semester, in one of my classes, the professor had a social worker come speak to us. I sat there, mesmerized. “That’s what I want to be,” I nearly shouted. I knew social work training would be excellent in politics and would be a flexible career. I could do so many things and live nearly anywhere. I immediately changed my major. That call God had placed in my heart when I was 13 years old was revived in me and I answered it.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ followers are still locked up together. The women have told them about Jesus’ resurrection, but they are still afraid of the Roman and religious authorities. Then Jesus appears, creating great joy. He calms them. “Peace be with you,” he says. Then he gives them a command to go out. Unlock the doors, Jesus says. God sent me, now I send you. Now you must go out into the world. Then Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit upon them.
Jesus promised they would not be abandoned. Jesus promised an advocate would come. Jesus promised a guiding companion. We know something happened, because they did go out. The gospels were written. The story has survived the world’s history of nearly 2000 years.
We come on a Sunday morning. We may come other times too, like Wednesday nights or weekdays when preparing for events. Even if we’re not here, many of us feel a connection to this place…this parish of St. John’s Episcopal Church. We know there are people here who care about us. We know people are praying for us…thinking of us…wondering how we are. We know we are seen and heard here in ways the world cannot see us nor hear us. Things we say, do, believe, and guide us here, seem crazy in the world’s standards.
This place. This St. John’s is our refuge. A place where we can be close to God, reminded of our relationship with God, strengthened in God. Just like those early followers, we are tempted to lock ourselves up in this room. We, too, are afraid of what the outside world may do to us, say to us, challenge us with.
AND yet, every Sunday, Jesus comes. Jesus comes in the bread and the wine. Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on us. We are sent out. “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord, Alleluia, Alleluia. Thanks be to God, Alleluia, Alleluia.” We must go out!
What is that work God is calling you to? You, an unique human being. Never before seen on this earth. Never to be seen again. A special combination, physically mixing with all of your life experiences, creating you. We in the world are waiting for you, because there is wisdom and there is truth and there is love that only you can bring to the world. There is work that only you can do in the world…work to further God’s Kingdom.
As part of my seminary education, I spent a summer as a hospital chaplain at Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan. One of my floors was maternity. That summer reinforced that every birth of a child is important to me. I will most likely never see those children I blessed that summer. However, their very being on the earth, changed the earth. The energy they brought, their spirit, how they changed their parents and families, all ripples out through the world, changing it and changing us.
More immediately, on Thursday Aidan Wayne Love-Gray was born to Maura Love. Maura is changed. Laura and Herschel are grandparents and are changed. And St. John’s is changed. Even though little Aidan at this point is capable of so little – crying, sleeping, eating, and needing his diapers changed – he has done so much.
This Pentecost day…the birthday of the church…we rejoice in this community…this St. John’s. We rejoice that the followers of Jesus, infused with the Holy Spirit left that locked room and with courage spread the Good News to any who would listen.
Now let us go forth and do the same.