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6th Easter 2017

510 S. Farwell St., Eau Claire WI 54701 • 715.835.3734 Map to the Cathedral

6th Easter 2017

~Fr. Michael

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be ever acceptable in thy sight oh Lord my strength & my redeemer.

How many of us when we were children heard our parents say that if we were good kids and loved them, then we would obey and follow what they told us to do?  If you have been a parent how many of you have had similar expectations of your children?  How many of you ever disobeyed your parents? or as a parent were disobeyed?  It seems hard to avoid, like a natural circumstance, and perhaps that is why Jesus says, “if you love me, you will obey my commandments.” to remind and make a special point to his disciples that they need to do as Jesus says. 

During the last couple of Sunday’s, the Gospel has reminded us that we are both like children and sheep in God’s keeping.  And as such, He cares for us, watches over us and prepares a place for us in His Heavenly Kingdom.  It is likely that these words were very comforting to the disciples of Christ who expected Him to return to earth during their lives!  However, we are now two millennia on, and it is clear that Jesus is not returning to us right away.  Who then can comfort and protect us?

What then is the Holy Spirit and how do we know that she is with us?  We first hear about the Spirit in the opening lines of Genesis when the earth is a formless void and Spirit moves over the water of earth’s surface.  But it is God who forms the earth and her people.  Later we hear of the Spirit as it descends upon Jesus as John baptizes Him in the River Jordan.  So why does Jesus ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to be with His followers and ultimately with us?  Is it that Jesus knows that the Church will spread beyond Judea and therefore need the Spirit who is nowhere and everywhere at the same time?

In John, just before today’s reading, Jesus has given his disciples a new commandment; to love one another as he has loved them.  When Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” This is one of those commandments!

So how do we love our neighbors?  As deacons, each of us is called specially to bring the cares of the world into the Church — the Body of Christ, and we are also called to bring the concerns of the Church out into the world.  So, if Jesus says to us, “if you love me you will keep my commandants”, and if we know that after loving God and serving him through worship and prayer, we are called to love our neighbor what does that look like?

Here in this parish it may mean providing a hospitable welcome to visitors, or during coffee hour where we renew our bonds with one another each week.  We have so many other ways we reach out to the community — to deepen our Faith, put our  Faith into Action, and live out the Gospel message daily.  Here are a few examples:

  • At Community Table we serve food, because I was hungry and you fed me — we need more help to continue in this ministry see Russ to volunteer!
  • Our foodless pantry — I was naked and in need and you provided for me — we are always in need of cash and more supplies — see Barb, by the way I am stealing this idea wherever I land!
  • Beacon House, needs people to spend the night and serve dinner a few times a year, also see Barb.  
  • Our Prayer Shawls — I was sick or in prison and you visited me and gave me comfort — see Becky to volunteer or donate.  
  • Sojourner House — I was a stranger, a sojourner in a strange land and you welcomed me — Sojo needs help also, I used to go in the evening at 9:30pm, do some dishes, wash the towels, help people get their belongings etc.  I was always home by 11.  I am hoping some folks here may step into that role once  a week perhaps, its only 90 minutes and you truly get more out of it than you are required to give!

In whatever way, you respond we are called to serve the people whom these agencies serve because they are children of God.  Unlike some of our current political leaders, there is no virtue in wealth and privilege in and of its self.  You are not a blessed person because you are rich — period!  There is only virtue in HOW you use the gifts that GOD has given you.  No one wakes up one day and wants to be homeless, hungry, dependent upon the charity of others.  No one as a child dreams of a life of addiction, mental illness or physical challenge or disability!  Anyone who believes a recent political comment, where there was an implication that if you have any preexisting condition you have not led a good life—needs to examine their own beliefs because their thinking is currently antithetical to the teachings of Jesus.

When I wandered into this place in August of 2006 I expected to have a similar experience as I did at St. Luke’s in Racine.  I went every week for 3 years, everyone was very friendly but no one really talked with me, no one invited me to do anything but join the choir, which I declined — and I was fine with that, I’m deeply introverted, and it was easy.  I will admit that I loved this place right away, it looked right, Bruce reminded me of one of my parents very good friends and English professor; but I never intended on getting involved — and then that little voice which I had been running from for so many years, the Spirit, started to speak again — or, was I just listening better?  you should do more, you should volunteer to help with this that and the other, and well, here I am.  The Holy Spirit is speaking to you too — she is not saying be like Charles, or Jim, or Ken or Michael, or Jay…but be who and what you are — but you must listen.  Remember, that Paul reminds us that each of us is called to serve God in a variety of ways according to the gifts with which we have been endowed.  Are you listening?  Am I?  Soon I will need to listen again more closely and see where I am guided to a new parish, to new opportunities to volunteer or become involved. 

Finally, on a personal note let me thank you all for your love and support through my journey here it has meant the world to me—please know wherever I go and whatever I do, I will take this place and all f you in my heart forever!