Easter 2

Date: 
2010-04-15

Acts 5:27-33, Psalm 34:15-22, John 3:31-36

 

... for he gives the Spirit without measure.

Measuring, weighing, analyzing, counting, verifying, certifying, judging...

 

So many of our common activities require us to figure things out.

 

We get the picture of day upon day spent in trying to arrive at conclusions that will allow us to live another day.

 

Of course, living another day seems to be a metaphor to those who are healthy and wealthy.

 

Only for the dying or those in greatest peril does the metaphor fail and become an existential question.

 

I am blessed to be back in the parish working a lot of hours right now.

 

At 10 last night I got a call telling me that a parishioner who befriended me about four years ago had finally passed away. Russell.

 

Thursday a week ago, I got a frantic call from his wife to come deliver the last rites of the church, so this was not unexpected.

 

And before that, he had taken his best effort to attend his last Easter Sunday at St. Peter's.

 

Both my predecessor and I benefited from Russell's unqualified love and support for us. He was always ready with a compliment, always quietly making funny remarks, always a great smile, firm handshake and an open look.

 

You will meet Russell in your parish: He's not simpleminded in his praise, not just fair words without hard work, not just going to answer "yes" to every idea you have: But he is openly admiring of the ministry of the ordained in general, and HIS minister in particular.

 

Old School.

 

When his mind was beginning to be affected by the disease, he still would wake up to my visits, he still would make some smart crack, and he would seriously and openly tell me he loved me.

 

He and I plan on meeting again on the other side.

 

I bring Russell to you today for a measure of the phrase that was applied to Christ:

 

... for he gives the Spirit without measure.

 

The ordinariness of good people in your parish may seem to be overshadowed by the controversies and the conflicts between people and ideas that characterize our seminary life.

 

It may be the pursuit of intellectual discipline and inquiry that creates such an atmosphere for this community.

 

Such discipline and inquiry are needed to make us ministers in the church of God, disciples with some discipline to back up their role as those set apart.

 

Nevertheless, I remind you that the daily life of the parish is mostly a joy filled place where sorrow is real, but does not overcome. Darkness exists but it has not vanquished the light.

 

The Parish is where single, solitary sinners gather into a body of saints precisely made holy precisely because they love and support one another.

 

As a minister in the congregation, you are sent, you speak the words of God, and you assure all that Christ has given the spirit without measure.

 

You will affirm that the Spirit is alive and well in the Church today.

 

Every so often a saint will provide his or her testimony to the faithful body, and Russell did that as the end approached.

 

His serious and open affirmation of his trust in God was known to all members of the church.

 

He even made it a point on Easter Sunday to say good-bye to the Latino congregation with some help from me.

 

The community will gather Monday to celebrate the passing of Russell's earthy remains into the ground, and to petition God to fulfill his promise and raise his spirit to the exalted place where Christ is.

 

We have seen He whom God has sent, who speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.

 

To this we testify, thanks to Russell and all the saints in God's church.

 

Amen.