We got flocked. Again. The second time this month. This time we were at the zoo. When we came home – we saw some real, live Chilean flamingos – there was a flock on our lawn – of pink plastic flamingos. There was a note by the door: “You’ve been flocked!” — by Abby and Ben, from Greater Edmonds Young Life! A request for a contribution was with the note. Since I first really heard the good news of Jesus through a Young Life club I am a good candidate for a flocking.
The first time we were flocked I caught them in the act. I looked out the window one misty evening and there was my friend Joe running by the window. And there were girls in the trees, placing flamingos among the branches. Eventually they all climbed into the tree house next door, while we talked with Joe’s mom.
Sharing the gospel requires a couple of things – and some of them may seem like crazy pranks. One is to take a risk and reach out – and let your neighbors know about Jesus. Another is to help share in the cost of discipleship – the cost of evangelism and the cost of teaching about the good news, and what it means to us. So both those things were happening, that night. Take a risk and reach out – and give to support our common goal.
Our common goal is no less than the kingdom of God – the reign of God made real, on earth as in heaven, not only in our imaginings but in our lives.
I saw this earlier in the week – last Sunday evening, in fact: Meredith Bee was at Camp Huston. We were there to see her confirmed – her family, her friends, including Verity, and her community. We celebrated this moment together – when a bishop in a long line of bishops laid hands on her, with us beside him, and prayed for her. As she affirmed her faith in Christ we undertook to support her in that faith. And we gave thanks to God in Christ as we made our great thanksgiving together – the Eucharist, the Holy Communion.
No less than the kingdom – the kingdom, here on earth as it is in heaven. That’s our goal.
Paul writes to the Christians at Corinth. They are still new to this good news, still figuring it out. What it means for them. What it means for us. And so Paul reminds them: when they give, when they contribute to the mission of the church, they do so not out of guilty compliance with a past promise, but out of gratefulness – and out of common purpose.
Our real security does not lie in worldly wealth. It rests in the hands of God. That is the message we get from the gospel. The woman who had suffered for twelve years, the twelve year old who had suffered death, both were in need of the healing grace of Christ. And Jesus came to them – and they (or in the girl’s case, her father) put their trust in him.
He did not fail them. He came in time, and he healed. He healed – that is, he made whole, what was broken, what was faulty, what was in need of completion. It was more than physical healing that the woman needed. As she had been stricken down with physical illness, the very symptoms made her ritually unclean. And so nobody would touch her.
Nobody would risk it; nobody would get near her. They tried to stay clean. Nobody, that is, except Jesus. He sought her out, asked her: was it you? – addressed her as Daughter, daughter of Abraham – and assured her that her faith had made her well; had restored her. And then he said, peace, go your way with blessing: you are restored to the community.
Peace! Shalom. It is more than just a word. It means wholeness, life in abundance, and life in community, in relationship. The relationship with God that Jesus establishes allows us to reach out to each other in fellowship in a new way.
We are all in this together now; this life we have we have in God and we are called to relate to each other in this light.
And so Paul says to the people at Corinth, you are part of something larger than yourselves. You are part of a worldwide community, a new fellowship of love that knows no boundaries or barriers that cannot be overcome, and you are bearers of the message, that the offering of God’s healing and restoring grace is for everybody, everywhere.How God acts in Christ toward us is how we should act toward all people.
How God acts in Christ is this: that one who was born into untold wealth, the ultimate richness that is one-ness with God, was willing to share in the life of the world that we, impoverished in the absence of that God-fellowship, might come to share it through him.
All we who were in desperate need – substantial members of the community like Jairus, the father of the twelve year old girl; or marginal and poor and outcast, like the woman with the twelve years’ hemorrhage – found our salvation in one who was rich, one who is life in abundance, who came to us, broke down all the barriers, to bring healing to all.
And so we are called, to share in that life, that abundance in grace. We do so when we share with each other in the joy and gratitude that we express in the holy meal at the Lord’s Table, and we share that life when we go forth in peace, to bring peace to the world. Shalom!
Do not fear; only believe.
Let's close with some prayers from Christine Sine's blog GODSPACE:
Jesus you say
Peace, rest in me,
Peace, hold firm to me,
Peace, trust in me.
You are the way the truth and the life,
May we trust in you and never be afraid.God of love and compassion,
God of hope and promise,
God of faithfulness and truth,
May we in all things see your face today,
That we might trust and obey.
Life is a gift from God,
Let us cherish it
Love is the language of God’s kingdom,
Let us practice it,
Jesus is the way to God’s heart,
Let us follow him.
BProper 8 - July 1st, 2012 - Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15; 2:23-24
Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15; 2:23-24
2 Corinthians 8:7-15