The Sixth Sunday of Easter: May 26, 2019
From Jesus in the Gospel of John just read: “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and” – get this – “make our home with them.”
Some of you know I like to fly fish. Connecting to God’s creation in this way makes me very attentive to how ecosystems operate. To oversimplify for a moment, if anything in the system gets out of kilter – if the water flow significantly changes or its quality degrades; if the invertebrates that live in the water, the bugs, are harmed in any way; if the aquatic vegetation that is supposed to be there is damaged or invaded by exotics; everything else in that system is compromised, including the fish. Likewise, if each and all those things are healthy the entire system is healthy. This teaches us that the way God has created the world is the most diverse systems are the ones that are the healthiest. It also teaches us that each part of the system must work for the benefit of the other in order to be healthy.
Or ponder two protons. If two of them are in close proximity, as in within the magnetic field of the other, and both are spinning in the same direction, say clockwise, but then one is sent off several million light years away from the other in a neat device called a cyclotron, and then receives an electrical charge to start spinning in the other direction, counterclockwise, guess what happens? The other one, millions of light years away ALSO starts spinning in the opposite direction.
Or maybe you have heard of something called the butterfly effect. There are a lot of variations, but essentially it says something like if a butterfly flaps its wings in Tokyo, you will feel the breeze on your cheek here in McClellanville. It’s a poetic way of saying what the other two examples are saying – that everything is connected. The way that God has created the universe is that everything is in relationship with everything else and one thing cannot happen in one place without it in some way affecting another. We are inextricably linked together in this creation, sometimes in ways in which we are not immediately aware.
And then, what God does, in the midst of this splendid, beautiful, diverse, sometimes puzzling or even cruel universe, is send Jesus, perfect love, right into the middle of us. Jesus says he and the Creator of the universe, through the Spirit, “make our home with them!” We celebrate this truth in our confirmands today as well as in the renewal of our own baptismal vows. Jesus is saying that our relationship with God is being totally redefined by him. As a sign of our connectedness, the Holy Spirit, in whom we are sealed forever, is sent as an Advocate, a continual reminder of God’s love that binds us to God and one another always and everywhere. We are held in the truth that connects and holds the entire universe together—God’s love. God has created the universe in a way that it is all connected.
And even as science shows the connectedness of all things, it is clear to me that the binding agent of a stream ecosystem, or the protons of matter, or the flap of a butterfly wing, is the Spirit of God’s love holding it all together. When there is life and evidence of God’s new Jerusalem, the re-created world of God’s vision breaking in among us, there is the resurrection hope of God’s love holding it together.
We find that we are made for relationships with God and one another, for connection. St. Paul’s vision contains the plea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” We have heard similar words in our own Diocese. “Come over to Walterboro and help us. Come over to Cheraw and help us.” Come over to Denmark, or Florence, or Myrtle Beach or Summerville, name a community, and help us. We even are to risk going “outside the gate,” as the disciples did in the Acts 16 account, looking for and open to wherever God is present and active.
Jesus teaches us that the connecting agent is love, shown forth in the way that we live on this earth. If God has told us once, God in Scripture has told us a thousand times, the answer is love. Not mere tolerance, not just patience or kindness, not only being nice. Those things are great, but they are only of Christ if they are rooted in love – passionate, dancing-with-our-arms-wide-open love for everyone and everything God has made. The love Jesus shows in making his home in us calls us in life to be an offering to God and one another in thanksgiving for the gift of life we have in this amazingly connected world. As a follower of Jesus all of life is to be an act of thanksgiving. When we do so, lives are changed. This is what the confirmands are boldly professing with us as they come forward.
I leave you with these words from an American theologian way back in the 1950’s named Reinhold Niebuhr:
“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true, or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context in history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.” “Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:27), for we boldly proclaim today that Love has made a home in us.
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Bishop Skip Adams
The Right Reverend Gladstone B. Adams III was elected and invested as our Bishop on September 10, 2016. Read more about him here.