St. John 20:19-23
Jersey City and Other Places
I would like to reread the lesson from the Hebrew Scriptures, that Ann read so well for us earlier. I'd like to have it fresh in your minds:
Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD; and he gathered seventy elders of the people, and placed them all around the tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him, and took some of the spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.
Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, "My lord Moses, stop them!" But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD's people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit on them!" And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.
I cannot put down Honor Moore's new memoir, "The Bishop's Daughter". It is an intriguing read. In it are mirrored so many of my own memories, experiences, and thoughts. Especially moving is the ministry of her father, Paul Moore, and her mother, Jenny Moore, in their parishes in Jersey City and Indianapolis, where they confronted the issues of social justice and race. These were the actions of prophetic people.
Midway through the book, I encountered a photograph taken in Philadelphia in 1974, when 11 women were ordained outside of the churches authority, extra ordinem. It was a brave action by brave women and by brave bishops. My friends Susan Hiatt and Carter Hayward came quickly to mind. Again, prophetic actions, by prophetic people.
This notion of being a prophetic church reminded me of the actions that some clergy in San Franciso took in the 1960s when they began to talk about religion and the homosexual, and began to advocate for gay rights. Prophetic!
All of these actions are about taking the Spirit seriously, about hearing her call and her voice. It's about being Eldad and Medad.
Lambeth and Other Places
And a young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, "My lord Moses, stop them!"
Sometime between the 16th of July and the 4th of August, Bishop Gene Robinson will be sitting in the exhibition hall, outside the halls of Lambeth, where his fellow bishops will be discussing the course of the Anglican Communion. "My lord Moses, stop them!"
Holy Union rites, such as we recently celebrated here with Michael and Scott are still not generally available in the Episcopal Church. "My lord Moses, stop them!"
As more and more people speak out against a wasteful and unjust war in Iraq, we hear some saying: "My lord Moses, stop them!"
As people advocate for education, immigrant rights, women's rights, any kind of rights, others are screaming: "My lord Moses, stop them!"
The Spirit is speaking with a mighty voice in our land, calling us to justice, and freedom, power, and courage. Many however, are ignoring her voice. They are jealous for ancient days and traditions, rather than looking at the need of neighbor and fellow human being. "My lord Moses, stop them!"
Bush and Gough and Other Places
Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD's people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit on them!"
There is one thing that I really admire about the Episcopal Church, and that is the tenaciousness with which holds onto ideas of social justice and grace. This is the Spirit-led nature of this church. Although it could be thought of as being "jealous for the past", its actions are something quite other, as it stands up for the rights that the Gospel so clearly enunciates.
This congregation has a similar history of social justice and leadership within this community, but we have our temptations as well. Let us not be jealous for our building, or our history, but rather let us be confident that we are and can continue to be prophet, Spirit-led, vibrant.
You should demand of us, "Come, put some of your Spirit on us!" Would that we could walk among you, laying on hands, invoking the Spirit, and watching as she takes hold of us all. The asperges this morning and the renewal of baptismal vows will have to suffice, as the water the Spirit splashes on you with grace and vision. Martin Luther talked of baptism as the ordination of every man, every woman, and so it is as we walk into a Spirit-led vocation. Yes, the water this morning will have to suffice. From the Gospel:
"Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, `Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water.
"Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water!" Yes the water we splash about this morning is the Spirit's water, aligning us to our Spirit-led mission. In this action, through these steps, we move into our vocation, into our outreach. In these things Christ will be glorified, and the Spirit will rain upon all people. We can take our Spirit and bestow it upon others.
Hear what the Spirit is saying to the people of God. (and now you say:)
"Thanks be to God!"