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Sermon for the Fifth Sunday in Lent
A sermon preached by Sandi Albom on March 22, 2015

Please click on the blue arrow at the bottom of this page to listen to the sermon.
 

Holy Spirit, touch my lips, open our hearts and transform our lives, AMEN

Good Morning!  For those of you that I have not had the opportunity to meet, I am Sandi Albom.  I’m a 2nd year Master in Divinity student at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA.  It’s definitely a pleasure to be here at Christ Church, especially during this holy season of Lent. 

Each time I am invited to go on this journey with Jesus I find it both challenging and so very precious.   Taking this walk with him, I am once again immersed in the wonder and mystery of the God who loves us with such abandon.

Sir, we wish to see Jesus.  (12:20)

Jesus has finally arrived in Jerusalem in today’s gospel passage.  Two people described as Greeks, most probably Jewish Greeks there for the Passover festival, ……approach the apostle Philip. 

“Sir”, they said, “we wish to see Jesus.”  

No doubt!  They probably had heard the shouts from the procession into the city……. “Hosanna! Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord – the King of Israel”.   I seemed like everyone wanted to see Jesus.  Why, just a few days ago Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus.  It was there that he sought to find some rest with his dear friends.  It was not long before many, many people gathered nearby to be close to him, to see Jesus.

This certainly did not escape the attention of the officials who plotted against Jesus.  And they were over the top with frustration by the fact they could not arrest Jesus right then and there, because of the crowds who surrounded him.  We can hear the Pharisees complaining to each other.  “We can do nothing; The whole world is following him”. 

So, it was no surprise these Greeks wanted to see Jesus too!  They knew he was there, very near to them.  Jesus, the one who cures the sick and raises the dead.  He’s right around the corner…… the one they are calling the Messiah, the one who would FINALLY save them from cruelty and oppression.  “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”  Of course they wanted to see Jesus! 

Well hey!  Wouldn’t you?  I’m not sure I could have asked so politely as they did!

I believe there are a lot of people out there in our world that are desperate for a glimpse of Jesus.  They want to know……..Are you really there Jesus?  ……..Jesus, are you just around the corner from where we are right now?  ……… Jesus, please tell us we have not missed the parade, ………Jesus, please tell us we are not too late to see your face!

The answer that Jesus gave to Philip and Andrew that day was a puzzling one, and certainly was not the one they had anticipated.  Instead of going to meet with the curious Greeks, he started talking instead about how “his time had come”.  He would be returning to his glory in heaven, leaving them.  Jesus knows his betrayal and death is very near. 

Jesus begins in earnest to teach the disciples about his coming death.  He compares himself to a kernel of wheat, a seed that once it was planted, would die in the earth and rise forth as a plentiful harvest. Death precedes life, Jesus says.  Not the other way around.  This is the great mystery of the Cross and the Resurrection.

But, wait a minute, Jesus didn’t you hear us……… we wish to see you!

J.M. Barrie knows much about wishes.  In his beloved story Peter Pan, he wrote:  “Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”

Jesus challenges any that want to see him.  He says, “come and follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.”  This is quite the invitation.  Would you have accepted it, knowing as we do, what is coming for him?  In his writings, St. Paul teaches us that in our baptism, in that complete immersion in Christ, we die along with him.  For Paul, that dying represents the rejection of all those forces in this world that would separate us from God.  It is a death that opens us up to new life.

And so, just like Jesus, who died, and was resurrected so that God’s glory is revealed, we too must surrender so that we might live a new life with God at its center.  We become the seed, buried in the rich soil, nurtured and fed, so that we might be transformed and reflect the image of Jesus to the world.

In just two short weeks at the Easter Vigil, we will stand together, and as the gathered Body of Christ renew our Baptismal vows.  Those of you that have taken part in the Lenten movie series, “I will with God’s help”, have been discussion and exploring just those challenges we will commit to together:

  • To Nourish our bodies, minds and souls through learning and prayer and the breaking of bread
  • To Band together in faith and love to encounter the world
  • To Worship and proclaim the Good News
  • To Serve Christ and find him in all people, and
  • To Strive for peace, justice and the dignity for all of God’s creation

People, this is life changing stuff!  These are our instructions for living a Christian, a divinely human life.  These are bold and audacious seeds that are planted in us …….. and it is only with God’s help that we might live them day by day. 

Have you ever considered that for many people in this world seeking that blessed glimpse of Jesus,

we may be the only Gospel they ever hear,

we may the only Good News they ever see in action. 

People are watching us.  People are watching me.  People are watching you!

They are watching and wishing to see Jesus. 

What do we have to offer them?  The world is looking to us, to see what we do, how we act, who we smile at, and who we don’t,  what we challenge and what we embrace. Society is watching us to see if our actions match what we say we believe.  Are we firm in the belief that God’s word should never be used to oppress anyone?  Can people find that glimpse of Jesus in us and through us that they are seeking?

And. Oh yeah…..People are listening to us.  What shall we say?  Are we joyful in the knowledge of God’s love for us?  Do our words glorify God?  Are we speaking out against the cruel joke made at another person’s expense?  Are compliments more plentiful than complaints in our everyday chatter?  And, are we able to hold our tongues when it is more blessed to be silent?  Yes…People are listening to us. 

Are you wishing to see Jesus?  Look across the aisle at the faces on the other side.  Look up into the choir loft, and you folks up there look down.  These are the faces of Jesus, these are his eye, this is his smile.  Jesus is in all of us……

Look, there’s Jesus in the checkout line at the grocery store. 

There’s Jesus in the eyes of the young person with the tattoos.   

And, wasn’t that Jesus, just the other night, on the evening news kneeling next to an injured child at a mosque in Yemen. 

Do you wish to see Jesus?  When you get home today, stop……. take a moment……..take a deep breath……… and then look in the mirror.

Let us listen to this lovely prayer written by Teresa of Avila. 

 “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

Teresa of Ávila

Creator of us all, as we walk this journey with you toward the revelation of your Son Jesus in glory, make us always seekers of his face.  May we look for him around every corner…..find him in every pair of eyes we meet……feel him in every hand we touch,  hear him in every voice……  see him glorified in all you have created.  Grow us into the plentiful harvest you planted us to be,  that we might reflect and radiate the Good News in all we say and all we are.  In this and in all we do may we ever glorify you as we pray always through your son, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

Last Published: April 8, 2015 2:41 PM