Homily: May 3, 2015

FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR B; Rev. Phil Boelter, Vicar God is love.

 

These three words from our second reading

were penned by the Apostle John

toward the end of his life

when he was elderly, in his late 80s.

 

Jesus had been gone for years-

and John was the last Apostle left standing.

All the others- dead and gone.

 

At the far end of his life

when he had distilled all his thoughts

his experiences and his theology

it came down to these three words,

God is love.

 

To understand them let's go back at least

60 years to the fateful night before Jesus died.

 

At that Passover table in the Upper Room

where Jesus gathered with his friends that night,

this same John, then the youngest disciple,

probably a teenager,

was right next to Jesus....   .....Right beside to Jesus

waaay inside his comfort zone.

 

It's how dinner parties

were done in the ancient Middle East.

It's still done that way in many parts of the world.

No high tables.

No straight back chairs in perfect rows.

Instead, everyone reclined at a single low table together

The diners all reclined on cushions around it-

feet back- body forward.

 

And John was right there...in the place closest to Jesus,

reclining on Jesus' chest.

 

As John himself says in our second reading

"no one has ever seen God."

 

But mysteriously

there that night

young John dined with Jesus

leaned on Jesus

learned from Jesus,

looked up from about 18 inches away

as Jesus first broke the crusty bread

and raised the wine red cup.

 

And there God was WITH John.

John saw God.     and that God is love.

 

Sixty years later

John was still pondering that dinner party,

the night he reclined on Jesus chest.

That bread and that cup said to John

over and over   "God is love."

 

Just think of all the thousands of times

John the Apostle sat at table,

took part in communion,

through decades,

....and decades later he is still pondering what it means.

 

We call this Table

and our eating and drinking together here

by a variety of names...

 

Holy Communion……     Eucharist

the Sacrament of the Altar…..       the Lord's Supper.

 

But you know what it was first called

by those first followers of Jesus' Way?

 

It was called the Agape,       the Love Feast.

 

Every week     Every Sunday,

every day, every moment,

we need to be reminded,

God is with us,     God is love.

 

This Table is the visual          touchable

smellable                       tastable

version of John's three words:

God is love.

 

Out there

we may feel alone,   threatened,

even unloved.

 

Many of us feel as if we need something better,

Something More.

 

But here we gather

And seeking, we find

That something more,

Whose very name is Love.

 

During our quiet time following the sermon ponder this:

whether you are coming here for the first time

or you've been at this table

since before most of us were born:

 

What do you feel at this table?

 

Do you know that God is with you?

Do you understand and experience that God is love?

 

In the name of the One who sets this Table,

In the name of one whose Name is Love.

Amen.