Give Me Jesus (Sermon) May 25, 2014

Sermon – May 25, 2014
The Rev. Rebecca S. Myers, CSW
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Corbin, KY
Sixth Sunday of Easter

Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. I Peter 3:15-16

Please be seated.

In the morning when I rise
In the morning when I rise
In the morning when I rise
Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus
Give me Jesus
You can have all this world
Give me Jesus

I was reminded of this Spiritual, found in LEVAS II, hymn 91 in the past couple of weeks,  No one’s sure who wrote it or when, but it came from the tragedy and toil of people who were brutalized by being enslaved.  They found hope, despite this brutality, in Jesus.

I have been around people in tough circumstances and heard them cling to Jesus.  Just over two weeks ago, I was at the University of Kentucky with Ann and Travis.  They were anxiously awaiting the birth of Bella.  They had to go all the way to Lexington, because doctors had seen something that led them to believe Bella might need some surgery on her head soon after her birth.  I was there when doctors came in to talk to Ann and Travis.  The doctors couldn’t say how serious the problem was.  I heard the doctor say there was a chance little Bella would not live.

Yet Ann and Travis were realistic and positive.  I’m sure they were a little nervous, but they had discussed things.  They had made plans.  They had prayed and they knew a whole community was praying for them and for Bella.

And there was such joy in the room, too, because just the night before, Travis had been baptized.  He was so happy!  Travis truly embodied what we heard in I Peter, chapter 3, verses 21 and 22 this morning:

And baptism…now saves you– not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

Travis’ baptism was an accounting for the hope that was in him.

On Wednesday, I went to the viewing for Dalton Christopher Brewer, also known as Buddy.  His death at the age of 31 was so tragic for his family.  The past seven years had been difficult for Buddy, after his beating and subsequent traumatic brain injury.  Family and friends were devastated to learn of his death.  At the viewing, I heard time and time again from family member after family member, through tears and cries of woe, “I don’t know how I’ll make it.  The only way is that we have Jesus.”  Someone said, “I don’t know how people make it through something like this without Jesus.”  In the midst of terrific grief, there was hope of making it through.

We are Jesus people.  We are people of hope.  And we must always be ready to give an accounting of this hope.  The hope shines through.

I met a mother earlier this week, whose 27-year-old daughter has a rare disease that only about 150 people have.  This young woman has been in and out of the hospital since she was two years old.  Yet, she has graduated from college.  She got married.  People say she is always smiling and how can she be so happy, given what she deals with physically every day.  She says, “I have faith. That’s what gets me through.”

The hope shines through and when people ask her for an accounting, she is ready and able to tell them about the hope within her.

Now Episcopalians are not known for our public evangelism.  We tend to be quiet about our faith and our religious beliefs.  In fact, many people are quiet about their faith.  Religious beliefs are considered private, individual choices by many.  Yet as a friend once said, if your faith has given you hope…has given you life, why wouldn’t you share that with someone?  If your faith and this community of St. John’s have given you hope…have provided a way of life for you, find a way to share that with others.  Find a way to give an accounting that is gentle and reverent.

You see, when we are baptized, we are saved.  When we are baptized, we are called to do God’s work.  A friend posted this anonymous quote on Facebook earlier this week:   Carry the water of your baptism with you through the vast desert of this world and dispense it liberally to every traveler you meet. 

We have this gift of Jesus.  We have this gift of love.  We have this gift of hope.  It begins with our baptism…with God claiming us for God’s own.  We water the world.  We water souls.  We do this as individuals and as the community of St. John’s.

St. Teresa of Avila, who lived in the 16th century, wrote this prayer:

Christ has no body but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

We are called to be Christ’s body to the world.  In doing so…in clinging to Jesus, we are joyful in the midst of hard times.  We can get through our rough times.  We bring joy and abundant life to the world.

Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you and until the day you die, know the gift of Jesus.




Comments are closed.