Sermon for the fourth Sunday on Easter Also known as Earth Day or Good Shepherd Sunday

God created the world and said it is good; it is very good. (Genesis 1:31)
In a sermon by The Revd. Dr. Rachel Mash, who is the environmental coordinator for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. Pointing out that the opposite of love is not hate, but apathy. She went on to say; the planet is warming at disastrous speed, our oceans are full of plastic. The theme this year Earth Day is “plastic pollution. Diego delights in Earth Day. Just Google Earth Day San Diego 2018 and you will find a full page of links to activities.

This being Good Shepherd Sunday we are called upon to consider our love for Earth, community, and church family. John is blunt, “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our life’s. “ Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” Christ said I lay down my life for the sheep; this act of self-giving love is to show all the love of God. This should be an example for us. But how are we to lay down our lives? There are the works of mercy.

1. To feed the hungry
2. To give water to the thirsty
3. To clothe the naked
4. To shelter the homeless
5. To visit the sick to visit the imprisoned, or ransom the captive
6. To bury the dead.

All of these acts are part of following the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepard leads us to love. The Greek word Koinonia is a word used to define a Christian community. A fellowship of believers who share in an intimate spirituality, Koinonia is a community with each other and with their Lord.

In a broader sense Koinonia is the care of the wider community the giving and sharing of Gods love. We do an outstanding job at that in this community and we should be proud of this, but we should also be aware of how fragile life and community are. Working each day to show Gods love and caring for Gods creation. Caring for community follows.
I would like to read a short part from a book I read this past week called “Arctic Dreams” by Barry Lopez
“The mind, full of curiosity and analysis, disassembles a landscape and then reassembles the pieces— the nod of a flower, the color of the night sky, the murmur of an animal— trying to fathom its geography. At the same time the mind is trying to find its place within the land, to discover a way to dispel its own sense of estrangement.”

This landscape can be our Earth or our community. And I try to dispel my own sense of estrangement in trying to discern my role in Gods creation and community. Please join me in discerning your role in the care of the Earth and our community. The resurrection means a new Creation-restored humanity living on a restored Earth. Let us commit ourselves to becoming healers of Earth and community.

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Evangeii Gaudium

Evangellii Gaudium the joyful news. He has risen!

The darkness has been broken by the light of Christ, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all”. “ We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life” John keeps reminding us that the word became flesh.
When my children would come to tell me what they had seen and heard, I would say show me. It’s not that I didn’t believe their testimony I needed to see and understand what they were talking about.
I am reminded of Phillip saying to Nathaniel, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” You remember what Nathaniel said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” and Phillip said come and see. Nathaniel will have to encounter Jesus so that he will have a testimony for others. It is Nathaniel’s skepticism that brings him to Christ. The woman at the well was very skeptical, with her encounter with Christ. In this light Thomas looks good and is in line with all in the passed people on their spiritual journey.

Thomas has a burning need for a personal contact with the risen Christ. All of Thomas’s friends have had an encounter with the risen Christ; Thomas yearned for the same experience. “Thomas will not be shamed into believing, or shamed into at least keeping his unbelief to himself. Neither will Thomas ignore what he knows in order to believe something he does not know.” I too have this same yearning, on my spiritual journey.

Nathaniel has his encounter, the woman at the well has an encounter, and Mary and the disciples have theirs.

John’s gospel has a pattern in which someone hears about Jesus and needs more — and then receives what they need. This opens the door for their personal experience of the risen Christ. The church of early Christians not only continue the ministry of Jesus, they increases it. One needs a personal experience in order to offer a testimony. The important thing here is that we are on a spiritual journey, a journey of experience and encounter with the living Christ.

Our community today is no different. We tell about Christ and invite other to come and see. Our invitation is the same as the early church. We continue to show Christ love and invite others to come and experience Christ in their lives. Showing our love is basic in the spreading of the Joyful News of the risen Christ.

I would like to close with a story from the Desert Fathers as a summary of today’s readings.
Four monks came to Abba Pambo, one fasted, one owned nothing, the third was a man of charity, and the fourth lived in the obedience to others. Abba Pambo said, “ The latter has greater virtue. The other three use their own wills to keep their promises. But this one roots out his self-will and makes himself the servant of another’s will. People like that. If they persevere till death, are saints”