Sermon for June 1, 2014; Seventh Sunday of Easter
Texts: John 17:1-11, Acts 1:6-14
During the 1988 winter Olympics in Calgary Michael Edwards competed for Great Britain in the 70m and 90m ski jump. Better known as “Eddie the Eagle” he qualified to represent his for country in ski jumping because he was the only one who entered from Great Britain. Eddie came in last in both events. His performances were heart-stopping, not because of the grace or perfection of his jumps, but simply because he didn’t break his neck. People around the world were glued to the TV wondering if “The Eagle” would land or not. He had his moment of fame and glory as Great Britain’s record holder in ski jumping.
Every child has dreams of what they will be when they grow up. Many athletes devote hours each day to training single-mindedly hoping to achieve a level of performance that will bring them glory, win them the gold. The benchmark is the “10,000 Hour” rule. It is believed that in order to truly master a sport or any other activity of life you must spend 10,000 hours of focused intentional practice. That can be achieved by spending 4 hours a day, every day, for 7 years.
That’s what it takes to achieve at the level where true glory dwells, at least in this world. You stand on the top step, wrap yourself in the flag and have the gold medal placed around your neck, and all eyes are on you.
Jesus is gathered with his disciples in the upper room following the last supper, and he prays about glory. (John 17:1b-4) “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.” And following this prayer Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to be betrayed, arrested, and crucified.
That doesn’t sound very glorious. As a matter of fact, rather than glory many people throughout history have viewed the cross as Jesus’ failure to accomplish the glorious work of God here on earth. But on this last Sunday in Easter, we are in the midst of the most glorious events recorded in scripture. And none of them could have happened without the cross.
I’m talking about the resurrection and Ascension which are behind us, and Pentecost which is before us.
In Acts 1 we read the account of Jesus meeting his disciples (and there were more than 12 of them there) on mount Olivet and giving his final words (Acts 1:8) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Following this they watch as he ascends into heaven and they are left to carry on the work Jesus began. We are told they dedicated themselves to prayer and fellowship as they await the next step in the adventure to which Jesus called them.
Christ has called us to be part of that same adventure, that same journey. We are commissioned to also be Jesus witnesses to the ends of the earth. And we are called to start right here in Clear Lake. In my June newsletter article I wrote about encountering a man at a local convenience store, he commented to the clerk that he wasn’t going to church because he is not welcome there. I interrupted and told him that he would be welcome at Galilean Lutheran. He queried, “Are you sure?” I replied, “I’m the pastor and I know you are welcome there.”
The cross of Christ stands as God’s invitation to all people, no matter how sinful, to be gathered into the Body of Christ. And it is in this body, the church, that we live out the grace and love of Christ on communion with God and one another. This is what we mean when we proclaim our mission: We are Galilean Lutheran Church: Growing in, Living out, and Celebrating the Grace and Love of Christ Jesus our Lord.
As part of living out this mission God has given us, we will be having conversation on June 22nd following worship about approving a welcome statement for us to include on our website and in other outreach communications. It reads:
We, the members of Galilean Lutheran Church, affirm that Christ has made us one body with many members, all sharing in God’s wondrous grace and unconditional love. We celebrate both the human variation and inclusive unity of God’s family. Following Jesus’ example, we embrace all of God’s people, regardless of ethnicity, physical and mental abilities, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or economic circumstance. With welcoming hearts, we invite you to join us in worship, fellowship, and ministry.
Thanks be to God for calling us to this amazing adventure and journey in Jesus Christ.