Sermon – May 1, 2016 – Sixth Sunday of Easter

Psalm 67/John 14: 23-29

I know that most of you will not come to the adult forum between services I’m going to bring a little morsel of the adult forum here.
—- opening meditation – go through layers, gratitude —-
Now you know exactly what to expect at the start of every yoga class with me.
So, in these exotic yoga classes we start moving our bodies – this is the part that you might be most worried about.  It is called asana which means seat for prayer. Seat for prayer.  The practice of asana was created by religious men as a way to quiet the mind in order to be able to pray.  That’s it. I describe what we do in a class as “going through the body to quiet the mind and rest in the spirit”. This might happen for you when you garden, go for a run, play basketball, or knit.  Go through the body, to quiet the mind, and rest in the spirit.
Barbara Brown Taylor writes in this beautiful book “An Altar in the world –
In a world of too much information about almost everything, bodily practices can provide great relief. To make bread or love, to dig in the earth, to feed an animal or cook for a stranger – these activities require no extensive commentary, no lucid theology. All they require is someone willing to bend, reach chop, stir. Most of these tasks are so full of pleasure that there is no need to complicate things by calling them holy. And yet these are the same activities that change lives, sometimes all at once and sometimes more slowly, the way dripping water changes stone. In a world where faith is often construed as a way of THINKING, bodily practices remind the willing that faith is a way of life.”
I am here today to remind you what you already know…that you embody your faith. You not only have faith – you live it – and feel it in the very skin you are in.
Yoga simply means “to bind, connect, bring together”. So, it is connecting mind-body-spirit.  Which is what happens all the time – we are connected in mind-body-spirit all the time, for better or for worse. So in a yoga class we are just more intentional about it. We try to be aware of it and lean towards the side of calm, comfort, and joy.
And if you have been paying attention at all to the stories of Jesus, you learned that basic concept of yoga years ago. Jesus healed people all over and all the time in mind-body and spirit…Remember the story of the woman with the “issue of blood” who had spent years and all her life savings going from doctor to doctor and still she suffered. We all know that woman. Maybe this has been your experience of chronic pain. Nothing seems to help. It is demoralizing, depressing, and isolating. Jesus healed her in mind, body, spirit because she was suffering in mind, body, spirit.
Or that one time Jesus was sitting at the well at the hottest part of the day and asked a Samaritan woman for a glass of water? Remember how she was so broken in spirit that she was gathering the murkiest of water at the most miserable time of day – taste that in your mouth –  We all know that person too.  That someone who for a handful of reasons feels horrible about themselves – in mind, body, and spirit. And then they further sabotage their own life through destructive relationships, food, alcohol, bad decisions.
AND THEN what happens? — Jesus’ loving recognition of her suffering, transformed her into a vessel full of grace; pouring out the life giving water of God to the whole community from which she was hiding. That is an AMAZING story of healing, in mind, body, and spirit.
So, what about today? How do we experience todays scripture as more than an intellectual task. I’m not going to totally spell out or assume to know what’s happening in your own body, but I encourage you to pay attention – notice how you experience this story of faith – of life, in mind-body-spirit.
6th Sunday of Easter – resurrection, yes. We have a significant advantage of perceiving Easter as a celebration of Jesus’s resurrection, nearly immediately.  I can’t imagine the disciples were really there yet. Even if they did touch his hands and smell his stinky feet.
to the disciples – this is the 6th week since Jesus was executed and died. The terror of it all had shifted and changed.  Maybe they knew they were supposed to be getting back to “normal” life, but everything was different now.  And now Jesus was with them but now he was going away and he means it. He is going away again.
I imagine we all know this time of grief. I can feel it in my gut. My heart & my breath are heavy.  Maybe some of you are there. I know in my small little world, this is 6 weeks from two horrible tragedies that struck my heart. A woman I used to work with lost her 23 year old son in a house fire the Saturday before Easter. 6 weeks ago. On Easter Sunday an 18 month old baby from my kids preschool drown in a swimming pool while on vacation with his family. Today is 6 weeks since then.
The sharp and jagged edge of death and has undoubtedly changed. People have stopped seeking you out to support and help, there are less conversations centered around this beloved one you lost.  Their loved one’s image, the sound of their voice, their unique scent is drifting further way… I have to imagine it is hard not to cling to every little scrap of memory and clothes you have of them.  Maybe it feels like you are losing them all over again. How On Earth can you keep them close?
Jesus says to us again and again and again. For all our losses and heartaches, Jesus says; Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Do not let them be afraid.
Feel in your bones the blessing that has grown from the Psalm for today…
This blessing that you have heard and received so many times
You might be able to recite it yourself, I hope you can. It’s a good one
To commit to memory for your own use…

God bless you and keep you –
-keep you tight and close – like when we were newborn babies
And we were swaddled so tight in blankets, so we could rest, feel safe, secure, beloved and not the horrible free fall.

God’s face shine on you and be gracious to you.
– Sit back, let your gaze lift up and out a little and feel your heart follow.
– Maybe close your eyes and feel the warm sun on your face…even in the midst of this enclosed sanctuary you know the feeling of warm sun in your face, a gentle breeze.  That’s it…Gods Face shine on you and be gracious to you.

May God look upon you with favor and give you peace.
– my 3 year old daughter Mabel was moaning and softly crying Mommy last night.
– so I went in and rubbed her back and just stayed with her a while, even though she was completely asleep. I love the sound of her breath, the look of her hair, even that smell of her warm body snuggled in the covers.
– Mabel and I can really struggle. We have similar personalities. She is fiercely independent, doesn’t like to be told what to do, and doesn’t want help until she wants it and then she wants it immediately.
– I need to watch her sleep, especially on those hard days, to remind myself of God’s love for both of us. God’s outpouring of grace, love, new life.

– This is how God looks upon us, keeps vigil over us, despite of, because of, and in the midst of chronic pain, grief, and our defiant struggles for independence.

So, I’m going to end the way I end every yoga class.