May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our heart be acceptable in thy sight Oh Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen
Spring is in the air
with the smell of budding flowers and trees
comes the urge to leave the desk at work
the warmth of the bed at home
to seek out an adventure
to venture forth into the world
this happens to me periodically
the pull of spring
those urges have taken me on long bike rides
across the United States on a bicycle
San Diego to Fairfax
from the beginning of the Continental Divide Trail
to its’ end in Mexico
I look out the window of my office and find myself drawn
out to horizon
the simple life, living in a tent
learning again what you can live without
meeting the challenges
that present every day….
can you survive in the face of wind
rain, broken spokes
searing heat, long periods of being alone
away from family, friends, all the structures
that support you from day to day…..
I realize that not everyone is drawn to such extremes
maybe the urge arises and is satisfied with a walk around the block
the need to plant flowers or cut back the hedges
but, for some of us there is a deep need
a call toward something
a need to step away from all that defines us…..
As winter was coming to an end
I came onto a book that has breathed new life into those feelings
like blowing on the embers of a dying fire….
will it catch on, flame up, ignite the kindling
Mark Jenkins’ has written a book
entitled A Man’s Life: Dispatches from Dangerous Places
Jenkins has been a columnist for Outside magazine
he has written three earlier books
often interviewed on popular t.v.
he is a persona of adventure
it is in his fiber
an irresistible part of who he is
Reading his stories
gave me a point of reference
a sense that I am not alone in my feelings….
here is someone who speaks a similar language
even more extreme than anything I ever considered
In the early chapters he talks about the need to go
at the same time the pain of leaving his wife and two daughters….
In the first chapter called Good-bye again…..
he acknowledges the responsibility he has as husband/father
the pain that he will experience as he leaves, as he spends time away
But, the chapter ends with this quote:
Without my home, a place to leave from and return to, travel would be impossible for me. In the balancing scale of life, home is the antipodal counterweight to travel. It is the hand that holds the kite string-and, should the string snap, the kite will twist and fold and drop from the sky like a buckshot bird. p. 10
what follows are chapter after chapter of great adventures
hiking, biking, climbing, kayaking,
but, it is the last chapter that brings it back to home
Mark’s closest friend in the world another man who shares
the call to adventure…but he has entered a crisis point in life
he has begun to question his need for adventure
Mark say’s “ His friend Mike has been trying to reform himself
for years….weaning himself off adventure
like a heavy drinker weans himself off scotch
serious adventure is incompatible with being a father
you are imperiling not simply your own life, but
the lives of your children, which is immoral, he will give it up
after one last adventure……
you can guess the outcome….
Risk is integral to adventure. A freak accident, an unanticipated rockslide, an avalanche.
No risk, no adventure. Mike knows this, but he’s torn between being the man he is and the man he believes he should be……p. 353-4
The book ends as Mark talks about Mike’s death
his adventure completed Mike and his party are returning
the boat they are riding is upturned by
a bowhead whale that comes up under their boat
dumping the team into arctic waters
after holding onto the boat for more than eight hours
Mike finally succumbs to the icy waters
eleven years later Mark is finally able to write about his loss
he lets Mike’s wife know what he is doing….they both break down
as they talk
“then she said: “But, Mark, there are so many ways to lose your life
the book comes to an end
I almost had to remind myself to breathe
no risk, no adventure….so many ways to lose your life
worth the price of the book…..
At the same time that I was reading/living through these stories
I had playing in the back ground the story of today’s Gospel
Randy and staff had offered me the honor
of coming again to this pulpit….
Thinking about this text as I read the book
This is the Sunday in the church year
Known at least in Lutheran circles as ‘low’ Sunday….
the let down after all the excitement of Easter
the lilies are delivered to their proper homes
the new clothes and hair does now
a bit wrinkled
in the past it was a time for the preacher
to go off on a well earned vacation
Ashe Wednesday to Easter
six weeks, forty days of building tension
culminating in the loud Hosannas
now back to the weekly business of the church
the Gospel of the Doubting Thomas
What a great way to come back to earth
the disciples slink away to a house in the suburbs
the doors are locked, they are sacred nearly to death
afraid that the same fate that has taken their leader
will befall them…..
When suddenly into their midst comes Jesus
Peace be with you…….
it must have been a moment
in the midst of great fear
When the next day they attempt to tell Thomas what he missed
they are met with the cynicism of a realist
what are you talking about…
how can this be
I cannot believe it….won’t believe
till I see him with my own eyes
touch the wounds of his body
know that it is him……
This is Thomas, also known as the twin
known to be one of Jesus’ closest disciples
we met him earlier in Lent
when the Gospel lesson for the Sunday
told us the story of the rising of Jesus’ friend Lazarus
buried, unaware in that text
is another drama
Jesus has heard of his friend’s sickness
even though word of Lazarus’ death has come
Jesus has determined to go to him
to go to an area near Jerusalem
knowing that he risks being attacked, even stoned by the temple leadership
the disciples resist, rebel, why put yourself at risk, the man is already dead
It is Thomas who steps up….he is the one who says…
Let us go with him that we might die also with him……..
Later in those days before Good Friday
the disciples are gathered for dinner
Jesus shares the bread, the wine…
reminds those at the table that the end is near….
the cross is at hand
he says to the disciples, where I am going you know and the way you know
it is Thomas who speaks the obvious…Lord we don’t know where you are going
how can we know the way……
Jesus answers, I am the way, the truth and the life……
now Thomas is outside the group….
he has missed the moment experienced by the other disciples
show me, let me see and touch…..
fortunately he doesn’t wait long….
again the disciples gather
again the doors are shut and locked…..
again Jesus comes to them….
Thomas is invited into relationship…
Peace be to you……
Thomas answer is at the same time a plea for pardon
and an acknowledgment
My Lord and My God………..
Thomas is my kind of man…..
not particularly sophisticated
he has a realism about him that I envy….
while the others are holding back, unsure that they can follow
Thomas’ words ring out…
let’s go with him that we might also die with him
what do you mean that you are going away….
how are we supposed to know the way……
you saw Jesus…good for you…
not for me until I see it for myself….
Today he is known forever at the doubter….
Thomas the man who needed proof…..
it’s a bum rap!!!!
Thomas was the man of courage
the man who could ask the hard question
the man unafraid to join Jesus in this adventure….
adventure without risk is not an adventure
there are many ways to lose our life without dying……..
faith without commitment is not faith…..
Thomas is here for those of us who come back
The Sunday after Easter
People who are willing to explore what it means to have faith
Marcus Borg, the theologian who visited St. James in the fall
Has written a recent book called The Last Week:
What the Gospels Really Teach about Jesus’ final days
In it he describes the contrast of Jesus
To the expectations of those looking for Messiah
Jesus brief ministry confronted a system of domination
Political oppression: ordinary people had no voice
In shaping their society
Economic exploitation: only a small percentage
Of the population had wealth
Religious legitimation: oppression and exploitation
Were justified with religious language
With the support of temple leadership
Jesus sets all of that on its ear….
Saying that Jesus is Lord
Is to say that Caesar is not
Is to put yourself at risk
Love God, love neighbor as self
Is to over turn the economic order of everyone for him/herself
Is to put yourself at risk
Thomas knew it
Let us go down with him so that we might die with him
He asked the hard questions
How can we know the way
Show me the place of the spear
The wound of the nails
But, it is Thomas who finally hears the word of peace
It is Thomas who responds
My Lord and My God
His words become
The early Christian affirmation of Easter
Another Easter has passed
Today we come back to regular life
Drawn by the spirit of adventure
Into the ways of faith
With Thomas we too can say: My Lord and My God.. Amen
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.