Pentecost 8 July 19, 2015 - The Rev. Canon Janet Campbell
PENTECOST 8 Proper 11 Year B
Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 23; Ephesians 2:11-22; Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
The Rev. Canon Janet Campbell, Priest in Charge
Who is the God we call upon here,
each time we gather . . .
Who is the God
we encounter and proclaim
in our [song and] prayer,
our exchanging of the peace,
our sharing of bread and wine . . .
That question is succinctly answered
in one verse of today’s Gospel.
“. . . [Jesus] saw a great crowd,
and he had compassion for them,
because they were like sheep
without a shepherd . . .”
who looks upon human beings,
responds to human need,
whom Christians understand to be
of the nature,
the character of God,
the Son of God,
of the compassionate God.
the word comes
from the Latin “com” (together)
and “passio” (suffering) . . .
a deep awareness of the suffering
of the other,
and the willingness, the desire,
to enter into it oneself.
Encountering the pain
of human existence,
Jesus himself entered into that pain,
being fully open and present to it.
And being fully open and present to it
he brought healing
of body, mind, spirit.
we see that God is with us and for us,
never apart from us and over against us.
who gives the lie
to depictions of God
as wrathful, vindictive, punishing . . .
Such a god
is the god of anxious people
and anxious religion . . .
a projection upon God
of human fear, despair, uncertainty, anger . . .
afraid of life,
divisive . . .
anxious religion . . .
itself in need of healing.
to any one faith tradition,
but manifesting itself
in the dark corners
of any faith tradition.
The God of compassion
whom we have come to know in Jesus
looks upon our anxious world
of much coming and going,
much pressure and stress,
much fear and unfairness,
much jealousy and violence,
looks upon the human community,
milling about in chaos and confusion
like sheep without a shepherd,
suffers with us,
responds to our cries for healing.
Jesus also gives the lie
to depictions of God
as dispenser of happiness . . .
The bland, non-demanding god
of self-satisfied religion:
doesn’t care enough for us
to require much of us,
to want real life for us,
with all its struggles and growing pains,
rising and falling,
smallness and grandeur,
its days of brightness
and nights of darkness . . .
the life Jesus offers,
who came, as he said in John’s Gospel,
that we “may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10.10
The abundant life Jesus offers,
into which we enter at our baptism,
is a life lived in and with compassion . . .
the recognition that there is suffering,
the willingness to see suffering,
to be open and present to it . . .
so that we hurt
not just for our own suffering,
but for others’ as well.
A life that asks us
to be responsible and accountable,
not just for our own well-being,
but the well-being
of each other,
the world community,
for the well-being of all animals,
and the earth,
of all Creation.
Such a life will not be a “happiness” life,
but it will be a life
wherein great joy is to be found.
I have said this to you,
said Jesus to his disciples,
“so that my joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete.” John 15.11
He was speaking of
of disciples to follow him,
to love one another
as he had loved them,
and so to bear much fruit.
crosses the boundaries of division,
so important in today’s fractured world,
for who can separate oneself
once one has tried
in the other’s place,
to look at the world
through the other’s eyes?
says Paul to the Ephesians,
God has already broken down the dividing wall
between God’s people . . .
the uncircumcised and circumcised,
that is, Gentile and Jew.
Paul, devout Jew,
who experienced this in his own life,
in his own self.
“There is no longer Jew or Greek,”
he wrote in his Letter to the Galatians,
“there is no longer slave or free,
there is no longer male and female;
for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3.28
All of us are one in Christ Jesus,
in the God revealed in and by Jesus,
across all cultures,
all faith traditions.
We are not the same
in our particularities,
but we are one
in our essence.
leads us to see ourselves
not over against the other,
by how we differ from the other,
but in relationship with the other,
by what we are together,
and what we share:
the life experiences,
the hopes and fears,
joys and sorrows
common to all human beings . . .
Compassion breaks down the dividing walls
we build . . .
so that we might
through God who unites us.
The psalmist also supplies
an answer to the question
with which we began –
Who is this God
we gather to worship?
An image of God
Jesus later used of himself –
The Good Shepherd . . .
who gathers and leads God’s people
to green pastures . . .
and supplies all their needs.
That Good Shepherd
has gathered and led us
to this green pasture,
this place of
the life-giving waters of baptism,
the fragrant oil, the chrism,
the seal of God’s spirit given,
the table of joyful feasting . . .
signs of the abundance of God’s
goodness and mercy
overflowing our lives . . .
We are not meant to be simply
recipients of the goodness and mercy,
of God the compassionate shepherd.
We are not meant to
stay in this place of refreshment
and nourishment . . .
but to go out from here,
to seek out the lost and lonely,
those “having no hope
and without God in the world,”
to lead them to the green pasture
of God’s goodness.
We ourselves are meant to be
good and compassionate shepherds
in the image of Christ,
tending to the needs and hurts
of God’s people
and all God’s creation.
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