Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Readings are here.

Thomas asks in the gospel of John, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Now days with GPS systems is more difficult to get lost and not know where we are going. But we can still be lost spiritually even though we know where we are physically. Thomas seems like a concrete thinker - in Chapter 11 he wants to know why Jesus wants to go back to the place where their lives were being threatened just because Lazurus is sick. After Jesus' death he wants to see the wounds for himself instead of taking the word of the others. So while he is thinking about an actual place - Jesus is talking about a way to journey with God.
We have lots of stones in these readings. The stones that were thrown at Stephen lodge in the mind and heart of the young man Saul who we later know at Paul the great evangelist of the church. The cornerstone that is rejected is Jesus upon whom our faith is built. Peter, the one called by Jesus as "rock" - asks us to become living stones, a holy priesthood, a piece of the spiritual house that God is building.
When one builds a wall or building of stones - the stones are of different sizes and shapes. They have to be fitted into one another, sometimes they have to have a few corners knocked off. So it is with us - the living stones - God is building us into a spiritual house not for some future time in another place but for here and now.
Today I am giving you a small stone as a reminder of your status as living stone, to ground you in a spiritual place when you feel lost and as the cornerstone to hold onto when you feel the slings and arrows of life battering you.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

IV Easter

Readings for today are here

Not preaching but just thinking about the lessons this Sunday.

"Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture."

This is the phrase that catches my attention today--- salvation (i.e., health, wholeness, right relationship with God - as I think about it) comes when we know we know we are free to come and go and are fed by the Holy One. Speaks to me of free will, relationships of mutuality.

Jesus proclaims that he is the gate of the sheepfold. In his day shepherds built pens out of briers and brush to keep the sheep safe at night. They would sleep across the entryway so they would know if sheep were trying to get out or predators were trying to get in.

In the image he gives us in John - he tells of God who wants us to be safe but who allows freedom to come and go. It speaks of a true relationship - caring but giving each of us space to grow into the fullness of our creation.

Last week the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco was in the news. The Golden Gate is a very symbolic bridge - speaking of the expansive invitation of the Wild West and the promise of riches in the wilderness. The riches are not found, however, in material goods - like gold, but in the wildness and in the relationships. This past week protesters used the bridge as a backdrop to send a message about Tibet and the hope of freedom in that country.

Bridges and gates -- what do they say to you?