Visual Sermon by the Rev Kathy McAdams
St John’s Episcopal Church
June 2, 2019 - Seventh Sunday of Easter
Use colored paper shapes
Ellen and I once tried to make a Ven Diagram for this Gospel. Remember Ven Diagrams? They’re part of “set theory” in that “new math” that many of us were subjected to in school. You have a rectangle representing the universe, then inside it you have circles that might overlap or intersect, representing populations of things. So we have Jesus saying to God, “…you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us.” This becomes a circle that is God the Father, another circle that is Jesus, and another that is “those who will believe in Jesus through the Father’s word.” …
The only problem with this model is that it leaves some people out. You’ve got a universe out here that doesn’t include God. That can’t be right. You’ve got people inside the circle, and those outside the circle. That can’t be right either. God doesn’t leave people out. So the correct model must be like this…U=God the Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, People, Creation.
No circles. While circles are wonderful, and can be very inclusive, they are closed figures. They define who is in and who is out. At common cathedral, we would hold hands in a circle and sing We Shall Overcome to close our service. No matter how many people I encouraged to join the circle, there were always some left outside it. And this always bothered me. Sometimes I would push the circle outward to include someone who was sitting outside it, and I would let go of a hand in the circle in order to join it to that person’s hand. That’s part of the beauty of circles: they can expand, becoming broader to include more, but there is still the problem of those left outside. I think that’s why I don’t like the word “Outreach” to describe Community Service as it gives the sense that those of us Inside the church do good deeds to those who are Outside the church. I prefer instead the model of Mission, which says that we do good work in the name of God, and invite others to join us in that work, regardless of whether they are us. We are all Children of God; some of us just don’t know it yet, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t set about doing God’s work together in our community and in our world.
By participating in God’s work of healing, reconciliation, forgiveness and love, and by inviting others into that work we cause these circles of God, of Jesus, and of those who believe to grow to the size of the Universe…and we all become one.