Visions, Change, and God’s Unchanging Love

Easter 5 YEAR C 2022

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.

“If it is not about Love, it is not about God.”

Our presiding bishop is famous for these words. Bishop Michael Curry always brings every single sermon back to we are called and formed by the love of God to do the work of God.

And here is the thing. The love of God meets you right where you are and reminds you that you are marvelously and wonderfully made. Right there in Psalm 139 you hear those affirming words. YOU are marvelously and wonderfully made. FULL STOP.

By the love of God, for the love of God, you are enough.

And since you are enough, beloved, treasured, with that assurance and knowledge. SMILE.

AND share that joy with those you encounter.

Accept and Invite.

Welcome and Connect.

Mission and Ministry.

In our readings today the church is being called to a new thing.

Peter has a vision.

You know things are going to get interesting in the church when someone gets a vision.

When Angels show up in scripture- watch out. You might get invited to exotic locations like a manger or you might end up pregnant…. Peter… Peter gets to eat bacon!

I don’t know about you, but I am all in about those kind of visions.
Unfortunately, our cardiologists speak to the contrary, don’t they?
Clearly Peter did not have cholesterol issues, remember they walked everywhere and had one of those blue zone diets…aka olive oil and pita bread. But I digress.

Peter’s vision invited change, a new and different thing beginning with inclusion of that which had been excluded. His vision meant a cheeseburger in paradise was in his near future…..oh it must have been a bit of nirvana… and what a joy to be able to share this news.

To run out and share this affirmation to those who had never kept kosher, who never knew that were supposed to keep such traditions and to receive the news that God loved and included them right where they were too!

You know that feeling when joining a new community the “how do I belong?” “How do I fit in” “What are the rules?” (Sometimes it’s as simple as “Where am I in the bulletin?”)- Here Peter’s vision is saying- you are enough and you already fit, just as you are. God and this community has a space for you, come and let your heart lean in and follow Jesus.

Peter’s vision invited the believers in Jesus to think in a new way, to have a new vision, to do a new thing. To invite all into the new understanding of who God was. Can you imagine Peter sharing this with the other 11 disciples and the committee on worship protocols? OOOOH, bless his heart.

“We just can’t – Moses would roll over in his grave”
“That is NOT who we are”
“ It’s NEVER been done that way before”
and the pragmatist “We are going to have to change the bulletins”

Actually, bless theirs- as those disciples’ hearts too were broken open to something new, something different, something that allowed them to breathe differently, to say yes in a different way. An invitation to come and see, be who you are and continue to become who God has called to you to be.

Peter is always inviting a new understanding of God’s love and mercy. Peter who denied Jesus three times was invited to then to be the leader of the sheep, to invite others to fall madly in love with this God who loves Peter unconditionally and is the God of second chances and abundant grace.

And with each invitation comes the opportunity to reflect that invitation back into the community, back into the greater gift.

In our Gospel reading today, Jesus leans into his disciples in that last meal together and reminds them all that not only will things change soon, they will change drastically.

And to this Jesus says, I will be with you, but in a new way.
Through each moment that love and care is given to each other
Through each moment that there is suffering
Through each moment when there is loss and disappointment
Through each moment of new birth, new beginning, and deep joy

I will be there in that moment with you.

The love you have seen through me will give you strength and courage
The Love you have experienced bringing unique group of 12 together will inspire you to invite others like and unlike you to the community.

Gathering will look different.
Mission and Ministry may be packaged differently and will still grounded in the same sacrificial restorative love.

The love of God is the same and expressing that love of God to our neighbors (while it might take a new shape) will be rooted in the same God.

There will be tension, our Lord knew there would be, there will be uncomfortable and heart-breaking moments… BE disciples who listen in love and respond in love.

Oh, change is afoot here at St. John’s and the Diocese of Florida isn’t it?

Yesterday we elected a Bishop Coadjutor of Florida. Your delegates along with 142 laity and 124 Clergy elected Charlie Holt to be the Bishop Coadjutor and serve with Bishop Howard until Bishop Howard’s resignation (we don’t call them retirements) in Fall of 2023. Mark your date, that consecration will be in October of this year at St. John’s Cathedral in Jacksonville. There will be change coming.

My tenure as Interim Rector will conclude on June 19th, my call to help St. John’s breathe and midwife through these interim times will end. It has been indeed a privilege and honor to serve in this capacity as we walked in faith together and supported the Rector Search Process.

OH the love, the change, the delight that this church is… and there will be a new rector and a new vision. God is calling you into a new space, a new way and yet rest assured this vision is grounded in the same deep love known to us in the breaking of the bread, in scripture, in gathering and scattering that you have always known.

Change allows for new beginnings and an opportunity like Peter and the disciples at the Last Supper to continue on a faith journey seeking as Jesus says, “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.”

In these Holy In Between times,
I invite you to bask in the love of God,
continue to breathe in the love of God
and breathe out the vision that God invites you into a new beginning,
a new chapter grounded in love.

For if it is not about love, it is not about God.

What new vision might God be breathing into you, are you ready to breathe out into God’s embrace?

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