Christ Church Eureka California Fifth Sunday of Easter Acts 11:1-18, Psalm 148, Revelation 21:1-6 John 13:31-35 May 2, 2010 The

Rev. Ron W. Griffin “Back to Basic’s”

Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your
Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

John 13:31-35

At the last supper, when Judas had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been
glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Good morning, As you read in Aprils Chronicle I was in Conn a couple weeks ago for a week of meetings, with the Clergy Leadership Project. It is a challenge to get to Hartford Conn from here. It’s a challenge to get anywhere from here. ☺ I was up almost 40 hours before I got some sleep and that was at the beginning of a very intense week. I didn’t have a real sense of what I was in for with the project. Leadership has a very wide definition and can mean most anything these days so I determined before hand I would actually enjoy the learning better if I approached the week with neutral expectations. There are 25 clergy from all across the country; men, women, young and young at heart. I am one of the old folks, there are many who are still in their 30’s and early 40’s

leading Episcopal congregations. Bright minds filled with hope and conviction to share the gospel. The majority are from the east, New England, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. It didn’t take long for certain personalities to emerge, those who were quick to speak, those more reserved. Which group do you think I fit into? ☺ I am by nature more reserved, a listener. At one point, several of the young clergy in my small covenant group remarked, “Ron you seem so centered, reserved, so laid back. It must be a California thing they said; did I use any of Humboldt counties most famous export”? I replied no, I don’t smoke, but thanks for the compliment about being centered. In addition to three more week long events over the next two years I will be in conversation with this small group with monthly conference calls. The homework we have been assigned will focus on identifying adaptive leadership challenges in our local contexts, the challenges of organizational dysfunction, disappointment, entrenchment and polarization. That week listening, learning; reinforced and reminded me; we live in a new world. We may wish it wasn’t so, or we may decide not to join in, but that doesn’t make it so. On one hand there is great excitement and energy, as Bishop Beisner says “this is the greatest time for the church,” New expressions and commitment to the basics of the gospel message in this new world. I remarked, “New vines have been planted and fruit is being harvested.” Bishop Beisner also points out, “that the organization of religion that has often been substituted as the church is in trouble,” that some vines are not producing, there is no fruit and hasn’t been for awhile. All week as a picture of an iceberg was referenced we were reminded to the look underneath the surface of our lives and the lives of our faith communities; look for the fundamentals, the basics of what it means to be the church and the challenges of the organization we call the church. Today on this fifth Sunday of Easter we are back to the basics; the same gospel story of just a few weeks ago on Maundy Thursday in Holy Week. The basics permeates all of the scriptures and is such a constant theme, we may step right over it, or sleep right though it or close our selves off to it because it is so basic and foundational. These Words of Jesus today tell us our actions every day define what we believe, really. Of all that Jesus could have said at this last supper, embracing and living this basic of the gospel tells us to love others like Jesus has loved us. Several years ago David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons released a book that documented research and surveys of 16 to 29 year olds called What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity

Here are the percentages of people outside the organization of the church who believe that the following words describe present-day Christianity: judgmental 87% hypocritical 85% , old-fashioned 78%, out of touch 72% insensitive to others 70% boring 68%. What this is telling me I think is that the new world isn’t so much concerned with what we believe, as they are with how we behave. Our actions do speak louder than our words. Show me what you practice, and I will show you what you believe. The world ways wants’ to trick us and tell us what really counts are riches, records and reputations. Jesus tells us however in this basic of the gospel, it is relationships. But as you know, relationships are costly. There is the sacrifice of time, required to foster them. There is the sacrifice of energy required to keep in sustaining them and working at them. But even before those things, sometimes there is the sacrifice of pride ….. required to establish them. Maybe it is because of the breathless pace we keep. Maybe it is because of the absurd rate of change swirling around us. Maybe it is because of our cultures addiction to novelty, or the overload of data and information that stalls us out. Maybe it is in the selfishness to have it our way. For all these reasons and more, we live in a time that is prone to forget, or maybe it is just we don’t know how to remember, the basics of what it means to be a follower of Christ, a Christian. Mother Teresa wrote: "God's love is infinite—full of tenderness, full of compassion. God loves the world through us—you and me. And it is the way you touch people, the way you give to people, the way you demonstrate love for one another. That shows the Incarnation of God's love in action. "Jesus really wanted his disciples to understand that God's love must be made tangible by doing. The Basic’s” writes the Apostle Paul, “the only thing that matters, is faith expressing itself in love." To the Corinthians he writes that the "greatest gift" is love, without which we are nothing but an irritation and a nuisance. John’s letters also expresses the basics. "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And today, Jesus expresses the basics at this last supper, telling his students, “I know you have watched, observed and participated with me for these three years, we have lived and learned together. It is not about more knowledge or more skill or more organization, or religiosity it is more basic than that. Jesus doesn’t give us something to think about. Jesus gives us something to do and tells us what to do. Love one another; use me as your example. Let my love for you; inspire you to love one another. God’s plan for us and for Christ’s church has always been and will always be; living God's love in action, doing, which then changes our being. The word Mass comes from the end of the ancient Latin liturgy eta missa est. (the gathering has ended, you are sent forth) The Basics of the gospel and embracing and applying the gospel to our lives is not in the coming to church, but what we are when we

leave, to be Christ’s body in our daily life and within God’s world. So we come to mass; gathering not so much with heads that are empty and needing to be opened and then filled with scriptural information; but more with stomachs that grumble and seek to be fed, with hearts that are broken in need of healing, with lives that are confused and complicated and are in need of spiritual guidance. God proposes, and we respond, God invites and we accept. God calls to us and we answer, with our lives. That’s it, basically.

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