Sunday, May 18, 2014

"In troubling times, a call to trust" - a sermon for the fifth Sunday of Easter

Preached by the Very Rev. Mike Kinman at Christ Church Cathedral at 8 am on Sunday, May 18, 2014

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

That’s how Jesus begins this morning’s Gospel reading. Do not let your hearts be troubled.

It’s not just the beginning of this morning’s Gospel, it’s the beginning of the end. It’s the beginning of Jesus’ last words to his disciples.

Last words are important. One of the most profound things that came out of September 11 was the voice mail messages that people left from Flight 93 that ended up crashing in Shanksville, PA. They knew they were saying the last words they would ever say to the people they loved the most. And so they all said the most important thing. All the ones I heard said the same thing.

I love you.

And this is where Jesus is right now. It’s the night before he dies. He is about to be betrayed and taken into custody. The clock is ticking and he doesn’t have a lot of time to tell his closest dearest friends, the ones who have shared his life with him, the most important thing.

And his words are his voice mail message, his I love you to us:

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.

Those are profound words for this week for us at Christ Church Cathedral.

Don’t let your hearts be trouble. Trust in God. Trust in Jesus.

Wednesday morning, a man was stabbed to death across the street from where we are sitting right now. Both the man who was killed and the man whom we believed killed him were people we knew. People who frequented this building, both during the week as we open our doors and on Saturday morning for Miss Carol’s Breakfast.

This murder is deeply troubling. It raises serious questions. It is cause for us to continue to examine our own security procedures to make sure we are being vigilant and protecting the safety of all God’s children who enter this space. It is cause for us to question the way mental health and homeless services are delivered downtown and whether serious changes need to be made. It is cause for us to examine our own outreach to people struggling with homelessness and to ask whether what we are doing and how we are doing it truly is the most effective way we can work toward a better quality and dignity of life for all.

The murder this week brings back to us all too clearly the murder 11 years ago of Carol Bledsoe. It reminds us that even though urban areas don’t have the corner of the market on violent crime – after all the Newtown and Columbine school shootings happened in supposedly safe suburban communities – that part of the gift God gives us being a downtown Cathedral is there is a rawness to our life here. We count among us people who are struggling every day just to get by, sisters and brothers who have untreated or poorly treated mental illness, sisters and brothers who show us how much work we have to do as we strive for a more just society.

On what I call the “wise as serpents/innocent as doves” spectrum, there is much about this week that calls us to be wise as serpents. To ask pointed questions and examine policies carefully.

But there is also perhaps no more important time for us to hear the words of Jesus this morning.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.

This is not a time for fear. This is not a time for reactivity. This is not a time for our faith to be shaken.

Though this week’s events have revealed a brokenness that we have always known is there in powerful ways, the fact remains that we are a downtown Cathedral. We are in fact the oldest neighbor in this neighborhood, having been here nearly 150 years … longer than the library, longer than the Missouri Pacific Building. Longer, I believe, than any building in this area.

This is our neighborhood. And Jesus has not called us here to close our doors and hide inside. Jesus has not called us here to shrink back in fear. Jesus has called us here to be his body on earth. And that means Jesus has called us here to stand tall and not fear. To remember that we have the power of God and the power of his son, our savior, Jesus Christ behind us.

God has called us here and says “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.”

That is not a power that allows us to ignore risk. But it is a power that allows us to, wise as serpents, stand in the midst of risk and bring hope, stand in the midst of brokenness and bring healing, stand in the midst of division and bring reconciliation. To do for the world what Jesus had just finished doing for his disciples prior to saying these words … washing their feet, and serving them with love and humility.

That this week’s murder happened practically literally on our doorstep is an invitation to us, a challenge even. It is an invitation and challenge to be the voice in the midst of the cacophony of voices downtown reacting to this event saying the words we hear Jesus saying this morning.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe. Trust.
This week’s murder is an invitation and challenge to us to show downtown what a Cathedral is all about – a gathering place for the whole community to come together across their differences and lay their lives on the table for the common good. To make this a city that makes glad God’s heart. A city where our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being is lived out in every action, in every person, in every standard we set for one another.

Jesus doesn’t promise us that everything will be all right. And Jesus certainly doesn’t promise us that the road will be easy. But Jesus does promise us that he will be with us always to the end of the age.

We have many challenges before us. And we will face them, together. And Jesus will be with us.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust in Jesus. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Mike, This sermon is just excellent! There is an incredible amount of fear, anxiety and inter-personal violence in the Northeast at present--much of it brought on by economic uncertainty. The Church needs to be a witness to alternatives. Hope that San Diego was great fun!