Saturday, September 6, 2008
Sixth Easter, 2008
Perugino, Holy Trinity and the Apostles, 1507
April 27, 2008 VI Easter (RCL Year A) John 14: 15-21
In older calendars and as observed still today especially in rural places this Sixth Easter Sunday has the title Rogation Sunday. Monday and Wednesday of the next week are “Rogation Days.” (A ‘rogation’ is a kind of prayer or request. We have the word “interrogation,” which builds from the same root.) The winter past, now priest and people gather in the fields at the beginning of the season of planting for blessing, and with prayers that the spring and summer ahead will be a time of fair weather and health and growth to abundance, in anticipation of a rich harvest.
Even we city dwellers can appreciate the spirit of this, a sense of our connectedness to the seasons of the earth and the rhythms of planting and harvest. The sense of our continuing life in God’s good creation, our dependence on his care. The deeper emotional themes and symbols of Easter, and an affirmation of the life we live in the new creation brought into reality by the resurrection of Jesus and the continued blessing of our lives by his presence and love. We plow the fields, and scatter the good seed on the land, but it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand; he sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain, and breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain. All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above, then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord for all his love. (Hymnal #291)
In the older calendars as well this would have been the last Sunday of Eastertide, as on next Thursday, the 40th Day, the great event of the Ascension opens to the door to ten days of great Trinitarian celebration of that mystery, that Christ is lifted up on high, seated on God’s right hand in glory. Ascensiontide. (And I would just mention here as a side note that I hope you will be able to join us on Thursday evening at 8 p.m. for what I know will be a magnificent service for Ascension Day, Choral Evensong with two choirs, as you can see advertised in our leaflet this morning, and with our neighbor from Calvary Church, the Rev. Dr. Harold T. Lewis, as our guest preacher.)
So in the spirit of this day and season, a text this morning at the very end of our reading from John 14, the 20th and 21st verses. These from his parting words for his friends, on that night in the Upper Room, his last Will and Testament. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them. This deep and mystical imagery, anticipating just a little ways beyond our passage this morning to that place in the 15th chapter, where we will move to images of vine and branch and this organic sense of incorporation. One body with him. One love incorporated into another, reciprocating, sharing at the most profound place of our heart. Abide in me, and I in you.
If there is one prayer at the end of another Easter Season, it would be that we would be renewed and refreshed by his sustaining presence and love. That we would find ourselves, in him. In the victory of his Cross and the promise of the Empty Tomb. In the glory of his presence with the Father and the Spirit in the majesty and power and tenderness of God. That we would be drawn into that fellowship in him, Christ our Lord, that discipline and discipleship, that community where we will see him and know him. Allowing him to fill our hearts and shape our lives. Receiving his healing and forgiveness, moving in and through our brokenness to his completeness. His grace and his peace. Our hope. That the word that we would hear would be always and only his blessing and his benediction. Open my heart Lord, overcome my resistance, my pride, my self-centeredness, my busyness of life, my distractions, my false beliefs. Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee. Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise. Easter blessings.
Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God.