Sermon by The Rev. Kathy McAdams
May 12, 2019 - Fourth Sunday of Easter
St John’s Episcopal Church, Franklin, MA
The day that I first began experiencing a call to the Priesthood, I couldn’t believe that was what I was hearing. I was at an ordination service at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, watching a woman from my parish be ordained a Priest, when I had this overwhelming sense that this was what God wanted ME to do, too. I wanted God to make it really clear, really plain to me. It was a foreign concept to me that I might be a Priest. I had been a Teacher, and I thought I was about to start Vet School, but because I had grown up without any religion, I had never considered that Priest might be an option for me. And here I was, feeling God speak to me, putting this yearning in my heart to be a Priest for his people, but I couldn’t trust that call; I had to question it. First, I had to be sure it was really God speaking to me, not just something inside me that was making this up. Then, I had to be sure that God was saying what I thought I was hearing. So, just like the people in this story, I asked God to “tell me plainly,” make it really clear to me, so there can be no question. The next hymn we sang was “Here I am, Lord,” and I felt that I had my answer.
The people in this Gospel have heard Jesus speak to the crowds before. They have seen the miracles that he has performed, and heard others tell of even more miracles – miracles of healing, mostly, of making people whole again when they are broken, of bringing them back to the health that God intended for them, which allows them to serve and glorify God. They have seen and heard all of this, and yet they still have to ask him, “Are you the Messiah?” They need it to be really clear, just as I did, so there can be no mistake. They want to be sure that they are following the right God, the right path. So, they ask him again, “Are you the Messiah?”
Jesus seems a bit frustrated with them. He must find most of us humans a bit frustrating, because it seems that we don’t immediately grasp what it is he wants us to see, what for him is so very plain and obvious. We need to see and hear it several times before we get it; before we believe it. Jesus says it is for lack of belief, that if we were truly his, if we had truly bought in and accepted his love, that we would recognize his voice and follow him. We would hear his call plainly.
I wonder, though, if our lack of belief is not really in Jesus, but in ourselves. I know in my own case, I heard his voice and looked behind me to see who he was talking to. It surely couldn’t be me. Why would Jesus call to me? I must be mistaken. I think that Jesus has made himself quite clear, that he was willing to give up his life for us – for you and for me, that we might have eternal life in the loving embrace of God – and all he asks is that we follow him. Hear his call and follow him. But most of us are still looking around trying to figure out who he’s talking to – certainly not us. Yes, it is us – you and me – whom Jesus is talking to, calling us to himself, yearning to call us his brothers and sisters, aching to welcome us home, seeking to show us how to be whole and how to share his love with others. All we have to do is believe…in ourselves, in our own worth as people created in God’s image, to believe that Jesus is really calling to us. Let us open our hearts to hear his call.