The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Reading: Jeremiah 20: 7-13
Gospel: Matthew 10: 24-33
there is so much in the two scripture passages read today, I
want to read again for you the words of the particular theme
which seemed to reach out and take hold of me and demand to be
the focus of my words this morning.
from the prophet Jeremiah who speaks of being called, being forced
to become a prophet
of God, despite his strongest protestation:
I say, "I will not mention him
or speak any more in his name,"
there is in my heart as it were
a burning fire
shut up in my bones,
and I am weary with holding it in
and I cannot.
then in the Gospel of Matthew the same theme of urgency appears.
Jesus is addressing his disciples and says to them:
I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you
hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.
my hearing, what these words seem to proclaim is this: that whenever
you and I are given an awareness of the extent of God's passionate
love for us - even for the most fleeting moment - whenever this
happens to us, we have no choice but to proclaim it.
we simply can't hold it in. We have to speak it out. We have
to act it or live it out in whatever way we possibly can.
love is compelling, and without such a response from us,
that love then goes its homeless way. God's love needs to be
by our response. So to complete God's love is our responsibility.
reminds me of a song popular some years ago. Perhaps some of
you remember it as well. The words went like this:
I had a secret love, who lived within the heart of me.
All too soon that secret love became impatient to be free.
So I told a secret star, the way that lovers often do,
Just how wonderful you are, and why I'm so in love with you.
Now I shout it from the highest hill; I've even told the golden daffodil.
At last my heart's an open door
And my secret love's no secret any more.
see, where all of this leads us, is that God is
desperately in love with you and with me and with all creation. There is no
turning back. For in Christ, God has made an irrevocable commitment
to us, an irrevocable commitment to loving us. And, you might
say, that in Christ, God has indeed shouted this love from the
highest hill and from the highest heaven.
believe that for us today, such an extraordinary gift poses two
is this: Have you been able to let yourself fall
back in love with God? Have you dared
to give your heart to him?
sort of frightening self-abandonment involved in such a willingness
to fall in love with God, to take him out of the safety of the
Sunday morning slot and to put him instead right in the very
center of our being where he becomes, as it were, the reference
point for our every choice and action.
have a very visceral way of understanding this risk. Perhaps
you can identify with
it. It comes from when I was a kid and I used to
love to climb up to the very top branches of the pecan tree in
our back yard.
learned there about the stability I could get by touching or
holding on to even the smallest of branches, not
could support my weight, but because it was a reference
point for my sense of balance. That
small branch wasn't holding me
up, but I knew that without it I would lose my
equilibrium and risk falling from the height of my climb.
so it is for
if we lose that reference point in our lives,
which is Christ, who invites us to keep our bearings, to keep
reaching out to touch him and by trusting his
stability in order to steady our trembling souls.
So that's my first question: Have you dared to let
yourself fall in love with Christ? Have you dared
to give your heart to him?
And if you have, my second question to you is
this: Have you then found your way of
love? Have your found
your particular voice to sing
for God your love song?
Perhaps it's in your prayers, or in
your worship, or in your study of scripture or
of other sacred writings.
And all of that is
good. But it is imperative that we also sing our love song
to Christ in the way we live our lives.
sing it in our vocation,
and in the choices
we make, and in the ways we spend our time and energy and
resources. We need to sing it in the ways that we relate to others,
both near and far, like us
and unlike us, and especially in the ways we relate to
poor, the hopeless and those whom society
has cast out.
The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. come
to mind, a mantra, if you will, for his life's
you would change, you must first love.
the underlying implication of this statement is "that
we must [try to] see more in other people
than they see in themselves if we are [ever] to help them
what they are ..." (R.J. Neuhaus)
is what love does. It recognizes the value in the other. It trusts
in the capacity
good and for growth in
the other. And on behalf of the other, it refuses
to give up hope.
I believe that to love in this way is the vocation
of each and every one of us who would call
if we were ever to be taken
into court and convicted of actually being
Christians, I wonder if there would be enough
evidence to convict
see the violent acts committed by young
people in our society today - in schools,
or on the streets, or even in a drive-in restaurant
Collierville - I
see these violent
acts and I can't help but
think that they are the signs and symptoms
of human interactions gone awry, of adults
who are failing
in their responsibilities
and of young people who
are confused and frustrated and angry.
I can't help but think that they are signs
of the decline,
of such qualities as
generosity or compassion or self-esteem,
all qualities which arise from the stability of
one's past and
the capacity for
anyone help these young people to see the potential
in themselves? Did anyone love them?
Is it too late
now to begin?
At the Street Ministry Chapel just last
week, a young man came up to me after
with a sad and
almost frantic look
in his eyes. And he just blurted out
to me, "I don't know how to read.
I can't find words. I'm so scared", he said. "Can you help me?" And
hearing him, I began to tremble. Finally, I was able to direct
him to Malcolm and the Street Ministry folks, but his image
and the echo
of his words still
his desperate lament evoked the image of a disconnected childhood
where perhaps no one was able to
or perhaps no one
cared enough or even
knew how to support him with the actions
or the words of love. And so he was left with no way of understanding
that swept through
him unnamed and undirected.
so many young people in today's world, he had not been given
opportunity to learn
generative power of love
through a real and personal experience
And this is where you and I come in.
Because both the gift and the burden
of the Christian
is to love,
when you and I look at the world around us,
at the heartbreaking suffering
of it and
of it, are we able
to refuse our calling? Are we
able not to love?
needs our eyes to see through
our hands to work through
words of comfort and
needs our tears to express the passion of his heart.
giving ourselves to
God to use this
way is precisely
to God our love
song, our most beautiful and bursting love
song. And all of this is also how we can
do our part
of the world into
the great, swelling anthem of rejoicing for which it
Copyright 1999 Calvary Episcopal Church
A homily delivered at Calvary Episcopal Church, Memphis, TN on June
Reading: Jeremiah 20: 7-13
O LORD, you have enticed me, and I was enticed; you have overpowered
me, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all
day long; everyone mocks
me. For whenever I speak, I must cry out, I must shout, "Violence and
destruction!" For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and
derision all day long.
I say, "I will not mention him, or speak any
more in his name," then within me there is something like a burning fire
shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. For I hear
many whispering: "Terror is all around! Denounce him! Let us denounce
him!" All my close friends are watching for me to stumble. "Perhaps
he can be enticed, and we can prevail against him, and take our revenge on
the LORD is with me like a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors
will stumble, and they will not prevail. They will be greatly shamed, for
they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never
LORD of hosts, you test the righteous, you see the heart
the mind; let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed
my cause. Sing to the LORD; praise the LORD! For he has delivered the life
of the needy from the hands of evildoers. (NRSV-New
Matthew 10: 24-33
"A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a servant above the master; it
is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master.
If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they
malign those of his household!
"So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered,
and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark,
tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.
Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him
who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even
the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more
value than many sparrows.
"Everyone, therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge
before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will
deny before my Father in heaven." (NRSV-New Revised