Preached on 7 May 2017 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Snohomish, Washington
Fourth Sunday after Easter, Year A
Who or what makes you feel full of life? When do you feel most authentic and true to yourself? When do you feel most comfortable in your own skin? What gives meaning to your life?
Who or what robs you of life, drags you down, tells you lies about who you are, what you’re worth, your purpose, your reason for being? What makes you feel inauthentic, uncomfortable, like a stranger to yourself?
Who or what promises you life, but in fact robs you of life? It may be simple everyday things like email or TV. My daughter and I will say, “… and then the internet happened” when we started out looking up something important or benign and the next thing we know, three hours have passed. Advertising “stuff.” If we have more, do more, work harder, “succeed,” maybe we will have “Abundant life.”
Who’s winning? The life-giving or the life-draining aspects of your life? And what choices do you have control over about the influence each of them has on your life?
Our scripture readings today offer us images of God offering Provision, Protection, and Presence. They’re lovely and comforting. But all too often, life doesn’t feel that way.
I struggle when I see so many people – faithful, good people – who do not have the basics, the provisions and protection they need. Just one example – people who risk their lives and those of their families to flee their homes because to stay is even more dangerous.
If Jesus came that we might have abundant life, how can this be? The only answer I can come up with sounds like a simplistic platitude: We still live in a broken world.
But maybe the point is this: That’s not what God desires for us. God’s desire is that we have life in abundance.
We may not be able to eliminate or even diminish the forces and voices that rob us of life, but here’s what we can do.
Choose to seek out and listen to Jesus’ voice.
Choose to do what we can to follow what gives us life – abundant life.
Listen to those voices, engage in those activities.
We can choose to be a life-giving person in the lives of others. We can choose to not rob others of life by our words or actions.
Ideally, the church is one of the places where we hear Jesus’ life-giving voice. The voice that says,
I came that they would have life, life in abundance. To hear his voice saying,
You were born to have and to give life in abundance.
Your life has meaning and purpose.
Your worth lies not in what you own, or your work, or your success (or lack thereof) by the world’s measures, but because of who you are,
a beloved child of God born from love for love.
May St. John’s always be a place where we hear that voice. May we be that voice, reminding one another who we truly are.
And may we carry that message out into the broken world.