Sunday, April 24

Fifth Sunday in Easter

Acts 7:55-60
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
1 Peter 2:2-10
John 14:1-14


Philip said to Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Don’t you love the apostles? No wonder Jesus is exasperated! At this point, he’s been with them for three years. In all the time they’ve been living together, they’ve had plenty of opportunities to see Jesus at work, teaching and healing. In addition, I have to believe that over and above all the things we read in the Gospels, they’d been party to myriad unrecorded conversations that were further moments for learning, and understanding.

Jesus’ efforts in this regard continue right up until the last minute. This conversation is part of John’s record of the Last Supper, so time is about up, and Jesus knows it. He’s trying to provide some last minute instructions, some comfort for them to cling to in the days ahead.

And still, here’s poor Philip. “Show us the Father, and we will be satisfied,” he says. Only one more answer, one more bit of solid evidence, one more definitive image, and he’ll be content.

Don’t we all do that? Thinking that if only we had that one more key item, or piece of information, we’d be better off. If we made just a little more money, if we had a little more education, one more fancy toy. . .

I can’t help but wonder if it’s simply something in our human nature, never to be quite satisfied. To be endowed by our Creator, as our constitution says, with the inalienable right to be in pursuit of happiness-- always looking past what we know (or think we know) seeking yet another answer. searching for ultimate truth.

There are two things I’ve often found to be true about this sort of seeking: first, that what seems to be the goal, the cornerstone, if you will, the ultimate point of satisfaction, is in fact neither of those things. That instead, it is more like a steppingstone, something that leads me to move onward, seeking yet something else.

Secondly, it strikes me that what we’re searching for is usually closer than we think. “Show us the father,” Philip says-- as he stands not only facing Jesus squarely, but among friends and fellow disciples, all created in the image and likeness of God, if only he had eyes to see.

Today is a special occasion, as we gather seeking in this place. We worship God together here, as we do every Sunday; we celebrate God’s gifts to us in the presence of Jesus, made known to us in the breaking of the bread. But we also celebrate God’s presence in the call he has placed on Larry’s life, to be a minister of the Gospel.

My brother, the charge and the challenge Philip puts forward is one, in a way, that you have committed yourself to spend the rest of your life answering. “Show us the Father,” the world says. Give us a reason to believe. Explain yourself, and your faith in Jesus, the Christ. Live your life every day in such a way that we can see the face of God in your soul.

No small responsibility that, and having come to know you, one I know you do not take lightly. But you also you are well aware that with the habits of prayer, and study, and Christian community that you cultivate, following this path becomes, if not easy, then possible. Keep them constant, my brother. Not only for your own spiritual health and well-being, but because that is the way you-- that we all-- become more aware of the presence of God nearby; that we’re less likely to overlook the work of Holy Spirit around us, every waking minute. You thereby become that steppingstone I mentioned earlier, providing a path and a direction, with the spiritual work and discipline to keep the direction true.

It is my prayer as you are commissioned this evening that, with God’s help, you will be strengthened in leadership, and in service. You have seen the Father, my friend and my brother; show us.

And may we, in turn, by God's grace, have eyes to see.