Words, actions, and promise chase each other through this week’s readings. Peter speaks and Tabitha returns to life in Acts. The Shepherd’s promise of life and presence is clear in Psalm 23. Revelation is all about the promise of life yet to come. In John, the crowds have seen Jesus’ actions and they want clear, decisive words instead; Jesus gives them their words and a promise as well.
Circumstances in my life have converged in such a way that I feel an incredible sense of urgency. It isn’t so much personal as it is professional. I’m anxious to be a part of making changes. The political scene here in the US has stirred up hatred, fear, and ignorance. States are passing laws that target Trans people in ridiculous ways. There’s an increase in Islamophobia and the destructive words and actions that go along with a belief that all Muslims are a threat. Racial tensions seem higher than ever with amazing reluctance of white folks to acknowledge the depth of injustice. It would be so easy to give in to the fear, the ignorance, the hatred, and follow the loud voices who lull crowds into thinking that some mythic clock can be turned back and we can shove all the demands for justice and equality back into the oppressive, dank basement they have lived in for so long.
We cannot, nor should we try, to turn back the clock on the press forward or repress the yearning for a better way of life for so many people. Personally, I’m looking for those words that will call people to life. If Peter, glorious, imperfect, impulsive Peter, can be a conduit for life, then there is hope for all of us. Not one of us should be reluctant to speak into the void any words that will bring life. If God can work through Peter to bring about miracles, then it is just as possible that God can work through you and me.
This is the urgency I feel. We must add our voices in opposition to all those who are engendering fear and building walls of hatred. If was take seriously the words of scripture, we ought not be afraid to lend our voices to those who are not being heard. The familiar words of Psalm 23 are filled with promise. We do not walk through the valley of death or oppression or hatred or destruction or violence alone; God walks with us always and everywhere. If we pause long enough, we will recognize that we are being pursued by goodness and mercy. Maybe it’s time we let them catch us so we can go forward with intent to bring only good and be only merciful.
If this is not enough to inspire you to act or to at least understand my sense of urgency, read Revelation. It’s a beautiful passage, so full of hope and promise. The day will come when hunger and thirst are no more. God will wipe away every tear. If we are waiting for God to bring about such a day, we’ll wait a long time. God is waiting for us to embody Christ in ways that will bring about such a time when oppression is replaced by justice not for any chosen few but for the whole of creation. I think God has been more than patient in waiting…
I feel somewhat justified in my impatience for the world to change. Jesus was impatient, too. He spent his life showing any who were watching what a life of loving kindness looked like. But even some who watched him didn’t get it. They wanted Jesus to tell them plainly whether or not he was the Messiah. His actions were not enough for some. His words were not enough for others. He talked about those who knew him, trusted his voice, and followed him. These he would hold on to forever. He didn’t say that there wasn’t room for more or that these were the only ones. Just that those who followed him were the ones he would hold into eternity. Jesus knew who and whose he was and invited others to have the same power and presence in their own lives.
In this Easter season it’s important to remember that the Resurrection is now. Life is now. We, the Church, are the embodiment of Christ now. The work that is to be done to bring about justice, liberation, hope, and peace for all God’s people is our work to do. Peter spoke words of life. We are promised God’s goodness and mercy always. Jesus invited us to live in that promise. I think now’s a good time. Do you?
RCL – Year C – Fourth Sunday of Easter – April 17, 2016