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Bible Search
Sermon for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost - July 22 2018

Sermon for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B
July 22, 2018
The Rev. Evelyn Wheeler, Rector

2 Samuel 7:1-14a; Psalm 89:20-37; Ephesians 2:11-22; Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Transcribed

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Today’s Gospel lesson is actually a mish-mash of two separate passages.  The first half is from the time, how do I put this, it’s the top bread on the sandwich of Mark.  Mark always builds these sandwiches: he starts one story, flips to another, then comes back to the first.   The start of the story was – what you would have heard a couple of weeks ago, if you were here – he sends out 12 disciples out into the country side to tell people, to proclaim the good news that the kingdom of God is near.  He sends them out without much support: don’t take bags, don’t take an extra coat, don’t take a staff, don’t take an extra pair of sandals, stay in one place and let them welcome you, and if they don’t, well, shake the dust off your sandals and head on to the next place.

And so he sends them out.  And the next thing that happens is that we hear about the death of John the Baptist, when Herod murdered him when his new wife’s daughter asked for his head on a platter.  You would have heard about that last week if you were here.

This week, the twelve are back.  They’re not disciples anymore.  They’re apostles.  Did you see that?  The apostles gathered to tell Jesus about their adventures.  That one slipped right by me; fortunately, one of the commentators I read, it didn’t slip by him.  It’s one of those little things that we might not notice. 

And then he said, “Okay, let’s go and take a retreat; we’ll rest, we’ll reflect; we’ll think about what’s happened, we’ll pray about it, and we’ll see what comes next.”

But they never really get a chance to have that retreat, because as soon as they landed at the place, they find themselves surrounded by people in great need.  Coming to him, for healing, for help, for care.  And he has compassion on them, because they are like sheep without a shepherd, like cats without a cat herder, [garbled].  They just didn’t know what to do.  He’s the only light they see.   

Of course he could have said, “I’m sorry, I’m going on retreat now with my disciples and I’m not going to be here.”  But no, he comes … and he walks out amongst them, and he ministers to their needs.  No questions, no pause, no rest, nothing. 

Then there’s another bit left out [of the lectionary] that we’ll hear about next week, which is he teaches for a long period of time, and it gets late in the day, and he says, “Hmm, what are they going to eat?”  So he feeds them, too.

And then they get back in the boat and they go back across the sea, and that’s when we get to the part where they moor the boat at Gennesaret, and there they are, surrounded by people in need.  No rest, just going out amongst the people to help them, to heal them, compassionately, so they know they are loved.

The word “compassion” is a construct. The Latin word has two meanings – the first meaning is “with” and the second meaning is “suffering.”  Com-passion: “with suffering.”  We recall the passion of Christ, that we remember on Good Friday.  He is with the suffering of the people. 

This is who God is. This is the face of God.  This is the image of God; this is the manifestation of God in human form.  God has decided to be With Those Who Suffer.  From whatever cause.  His compassion is more than love; it is more than pity.  It is more than thoughts and prayers.  It is presence.  It is action

Compassion calls us to action.

When I was at [General] Convention – two weeks of meetings, hearings, talking, praying, celebrating together, being together – two things happened on Sunday, I think it was the 8th, and the first thing that morning [was that] some of the bishops , probably about half of them, held a prayer service for the victims of gun violence.  And this was gun violence from every main cause – accidents, gang-related, suicide, homicide, you name it.  Things happen with guns, and sometimes people die.  In fact on average in this country, every day 96 people are killed because of gun violence.

This cross [holding up the cross around my neck]; it’s a little thing, it’s hard to see, I’ll hold it up against the green [stole] so you can see how small it is; it says Bishops United Against Gun Violence on one side.  They handed out 96 of these every morning, before we began our work for the day, in a prayer service, remembering those who died the day before and those who would die that day from gun violence.

And they invited us to write the name or names on the back of people who had suffered, or had died as a result of gun violence.  Some of you may remember this name – Brennan Stewart, age 17, who died as a victim of gun violence down by the basketball court by Crystal Beach in April of 2015.  That’s the name I chose to write on this cross.  So he is remembered.

The other thing that happened was that day was about a thousand of us went to a place called Taylor Texas where there is a detention center for migrant women.  Many of the people immured there had come to the border to request asylum from Central America – El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua – places that are really, really bad, and their children had been taken away from them and placed in different facilities around the country.  Many had no idea where their babies were, and their babies had no idea where they were.

So our compassionate response was to go out there and have a prayer service out there where those women could see and hear us, and know that they were not forgotten, that people stood with them, for them, and by them. It wasn’t easy to tell if they really could understand what was going on outside, so a number of us went around to the front of the building, because they had originally put us in a baseball field across another field, that was quite far away – think from here to Second Street – so that they could see there were people there and maybe hear the loudspeaker, so some of us went around to the front of the building – so now we’re talking about Main Street – and it had long, tall slit windows in the building, and you could see people moving their hands up and down or cloths or a piece of paper to say that they could see us.

And the next day, someone had called from that facility to a family member outside, and said, please, find out who those people were and tell them we saw them, we heard them, and we know we’re not alone.  For all the action that we could do, we could at least give them a little bit of hope they were not forgotten, and we did have compassion for their situation.

Compassion calls for action.

We have compassion for children in our community that need support: we respond.  We have compassion for those who are addicted: we respond.  We have compassion for victims of gun violence: we respond.  We have compassion for the hungry: we respond.  

That’s what compassion means.  And that’s what Jesus taught us.  to stand with those who suffer, to hear them, honor them, share their stories, and share their lives. 

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.