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,

He understands,

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,

Persecuted,

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,

Is that

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.

 

Unseen,

often unnoticed,

That difference is humble,

Bowing low,

even though it is exercised from high heaven itself.

 

Every time we imitate this hidden service

by helping others,

unseen

unheralded,

even unawares,

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,

the small,

the unseen,

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,

Like friendship-

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.

 

Surprisingly,

the song “You’ve Got a Friend”

recorded by Carole King on the album Tapestry

never became a hit for her.

 

Years later,

People never even knew she recorded it.

 

Instead,

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.

 

Hidden friendship,

Hidden priesthood,

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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