Lent 5 :: "We wish to see Jesus!"

PGR.04242011.584

“We wish to see Jesus.”

I recall visiting a church one Sunday many years ago while on holiday. The presider and celebrant that morning was the Rector-Emeritus of the congregation. The worship was lively, with well-known, upbeat music [yes this was an Episcopal Church!] led by a small choir of silver-haired seniors. It was nice for me to not be “up front,” as it were, and I looked forward to hearing the Good News preached by a priest with over forty years experience leading a congregation.

When it came time for the sermon, the priest ascended the steps to the pulpit and I descended into the depths of apoplexy! He began with a diatribe against the heretical bishops of the Episcopal Church who were intent on driving the church into the abyss of Hell! Their positions on the ordination of women and gay clergy and conversations around same-sex unions were nothing short of blasphemy that the devil himself [yes, to this priest, the devil and God are both unmistakably MALE] was using to bring down all of Christendom!

The main purpose for this tirade was the upcoming General Convention of the Episcopal Church later that summer, of which I was to be a deputy. Our preacher was using the pulpit as a warning to the congregation that they should prepare for Armageddon, for surely that would be the result if the Church continued her [yes, to this priest, the Church was unmistakably FEMALE] wayward ways!

Whew!

Oh. Did I mention that at no time in this twenty-minute church bashing did the priest mention the name of Jesus? Not once. Here we were, a captive audience [more or less, as I did manage to walk out of worship as we all stood to recite the Nicene Creed!] and not a bit of Good News could be discerned in anything this man uttered. There might well have been someone in the congregation that day who needed to hear a word of comfort, a smidgen of joy, some hope for the future. They sure didn’t get it that morning.

“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies…”

“Those who love their life will lose it…”

When we show Jesus to others, who are we showing them? The Author of Life and Lover of souls, or our own disappointments and fears?


Link to RCL Lectionary for Lent 5, Year B

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