Sermon for the Seventh Sunday of Easter

You’re having a bad day; nothing seems to be working and things are going from bad to worse. Perhaps it’s the job or perhaps your home life or a combination of the two.

That certainly describes the situation of the jailer. He follows all the procedures and then this earthquake happens and like the prison superintendent in Haiti, he is sure that all his prisoners have escaped.

He is anxious, angry and feeling hopeless. He prepares to go out like any good Roman soldier by falling on his sword. But then he hears a shout telling him not to take his life, for, although the cell doors are open and the shackles have fallen apart—no one has escaped.

It is all because of the two Jews who were brought in after being whipped with fasces—the stout sticks that surrounded the axe representing the magisterial power of Rome.

And according to Acts he asks “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” He doesn’t say to himself—wow, dodged that one or what luck. No, he knows enough to know this event is a miracle and he has not had to kill himself in dishonor.

They tell him that if he believes in the Lord Jesus, he and his household will be saved. Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him.

I fixed on that expression—the word of the Lord. We use it at the end of the Sunday readings by the lectors, but I think that here it has a special meaning.

Perhaps the word of the Lord is the core message spoken by Jesus during that wonderful period that he was with the Apostles after rising from the dead.

They have learned what resurrection means—the special body and yet conversation and hunger and being with those we care about and they have heard from Jesus the core interpretation of the scriptures and how they apply.

So the word of the Lord that they present to people is little changed from the understanding left with the apostles and it is a powerful word.

Yet even then there were people who were too busy with their own lives to consider the living truth. Similar, I think, to today.

So many people are caught up with living their lives that they miss the opportunity to be a part of a worshiping community where the love that Jesus speaks of in our reading from John’s gospel motivates people to care for one another and for those outside the community in need.

This love is an extension of the love between God the Father and Jesus Christ and by embracing it those who believe experience God’s love and are transformed by it.

Jesus’ prayer is that his followers may continue in unity as He has experienced it in his divinity. Sadly, we as believers have much to do to achieve that unity whether it is within this parish or among the Christian denominations—each one having a slightly different take on what’s important

That is not to say that St. John’s is not a wonderful church family but it does say that we are not united in supporting the mission and ministry that God is calling us to. Many people are not doing all that they can in terms of time, talents and financial support.

Yes, we are in difficult economic times yet a number of people are not providing their fair share in the costs of mission and ministry and the fine programs that we have here.

Sadly, I think that some feel that church is an extra expense or that we get regular funding from the Diocese to support what we do here so that any who want to be are off the hook.

Near where I was first in ordained ministry, there was at the time the Praying Hands Antique Boutique. It was called that because it was housed in a church building that was once an Episcopal Church.

The bishop closed them because they could not meet their financial obligations and could not pay for a priest.

After it was closed, many people, some of whom were well off bemoaned its closure and said that they would have done something if they had only known.

Jesus said it best: they have eyes to see but don’t; they have ears to hear but don’t listen, they have hands to do God’s work but won’t.

That is the predicament facing many churches in our region and St. John’s could very well be trouble if its people are not careful to give freely of their time, talents, and money.

Amen.