Homily: October 11, 2015
Pentecost 20, YEAR B; Rev. Phil Boelter, Vicar It was mid October 1971,
and the J.J. Pearce High School Debate Club
in Richardson, Texas
hosted a Saturday night get together at a member’s home.
I remember it well-
It was getting late,
The lights were low.
Those who were couples were beginning to well…. couple,
as only teenagers can do.
Those of us who were singletons
Were left to fend for ourselves.
Then it happened.
Someone turned on the living room stereo
And put the number one vinyl album of all time.
Carole King’s Tapestry.
And when it came to this song,
Buried deep on side 2,
Second from the end,
My lonely teenage heart just melted.
“When you're down and troubled
And you need a helping hand
And nothing, oh nothing is going right,
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night.
You just call out my name
And you know, wherever I am
I'll come running (oh yeah, baby)
To see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you've got to do is call
And I'll be there (yeah, yeah, yeah)
You've got a friend.”
That song still pulls at my heart strings today.
Deep down inside
there is a part of each one of us that longs to have a friend like this.
Someone who is there for us,
Someone who understands where we are coming from,
Someone who cares for us,
Someone on whom we can trust and rely.
The book of Hebrews describes just such a friend-
Jesus, our great high priest.
According to the author,
Christ is faithful,
and we can rely on him to help whenever there is need.
If you remember,
Several weeks ago
We talked about the fact that we are ALL called to be priests to each other,
giving help, receiving aid as we need it.
In the book of Hebrews,
Jesus is the original helper,
The great high priest,
the one called along side to help us receive mercy
and find grace to help in time of need.
Let’s go deeper with the author of the letter to the Hebrews.
Exactly how do we see this high priest working in the world?
The author’s answer is surprising:
Not at all!
According to Hebrews,
Jesus’ high priesthood is hidden away in the heavens.
Well, what kind of priesthood is that?
According to our author,
Christ is part of a priesthood which is invisible to naked eye,
but undergirds and serves and enlivens the whole creation.
The Christians of that time were bewildered,
A tiny minority whose leader
Had been crucified, dead and gone from their sight of a generation.
They were asking themselves
The very question
We sometimes ask ourselves.
God where are you in all this?
The answer from our letter to Hebrews,
contrary to what we may see with our physical eyes-
suffering, pain, problems.
When we look with the eyes of faith
We see something quite different.
That difference is humble,
even though it is exercised from high heaven itself.
Every time we imitate this hidden service
by helping others,
we are participating in that very same hidden high priesthood
to which Jesus is called
and to which God our heavenly Parent also calls us.
That means we don’t trumpet what we do,
but bow low in service.
That means no one but God,
And perhaps the ones we help will ever know,
what we have done,
how we have helped them.
Recently a family came for help to our Shelf of Hope.
As we often do,
Our faithful volunteers loaded them down
with food to help sustain them.
But that is not the priestly service I am highlighting today.
As they were leaving
A young boy came up,
And dug deep in his empty pockets,
pulled out a single nickel
And handed it to one of our volunteers.
That is what I am talking about,
and yet very powerful self offering of our very selves.
This is how Jesus’ hidden high priesthood operates.
We can always remember that,
Especially in times when we are asking ourselves.
God, where are you?
Jesus’ high priesthood often operates in our lives,
The unseen hand on the shoulder,
The unsung deed of goodness done when no one is looking,
And no one else knows.
Jesus, God, friends, we all work that way,
And that is the way we change this world.
Back to Carole King.
the song “You’ve Got a Friend”
recorded by Carole King on the album Tapestry
never became a hit for her.
People never even knew she recorded it.
as she was recording this album her friend
James Taylor was also across town recording an album.
She handed the song over to him,
And he recorded it also.
It was James Taylor’s version that became the hit single.
Taylor's version won a Grammy for Song of the Year,
an award that went to King as the songwriter.
This made King the first woman to hit the Grammy "Grand Slam":
Record of the Year ("It's Too Late"),
Album of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal (Tapestry),
and Song of the Year ("You've Got A Friend").
Taylor's version also won Best Male Pop Vocal.
But Carole King,
who had a case of stage freight
and did what she could to avoid the media,
didn't even go to the ceremony.
Her producer Lou Adler accepted the awards for her
and had to call her to tell her she won.
From one who wrote these words.
Words that are true of our high priest Jesus….
May they also be true of us.
“You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running running running
to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there
You've got a friend
You've got a friend.” Amen.