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July 9th, 2018

Sermon: "Pack Light"

A Sermon preached at Church of St. Clement in Alexandria, VA on July 8, 2018
7 Pentecost, Year B (RCL): 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10; Psalm 48; 2 Corinthians 12:2-10; Mark 6:1-13
I speak to you in the Name of God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

         If any of you have traveled recently, needing to use ‘the friendly skies’ to get from where you are to where you want to be, you know how expensive it can be to fly anywhere.  The costs associated with air fares and the incremental fees you might incur if 1) your luggage exceeds 50 lbs., or 2) you have more than one bag per person in your party, 3) you want First Class or Economy Plus for other amenities or additional foot room, 4) internet capabilities, food, on and on …
         My wife Chrissie and I just returned from nine days on the big island of Hawai’i, visiting friends.  [Yes, I feel the sympathy I was afforded just a moment ago as I lamented the costs of flight travel suddenly evaporated when I shared where we went.  I understand.]  But for folks who are more accustomed to packing a car liberally to drive somewhere, the need to pack efficiently, meaning “lightly enough” to fly was a challenge.
         Today’s gospel has Jesus just coming through a series of shining moments.  In quick succession, he had stilled a storm at sea, cast demons out of a mad man, healed a woman from a seemingly incurable disease, and raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead.  Consequently, Jesus’ fame spread like wild fire and wherever he went, the common people would welcome and hear him gladly.  But it was time to go home.
         Deep in the heart of every person, there is a wistful desire to be welcomed home with open joy.  There is something special about coming home.  Home is the place where love lets us be ourselves, pride shares our achievements, and understanding covers our faults.
         Jesus probably has hopes for the same response to his homecoming.  Not more than a year before, Jesus had left his village of Nazareth as a nobody, but now he returns home as a person who is rumored to be the Son of God, with a message of Good News and a ministry of miracles.  Earlier, before he had established his reputation, the Nazarene townsfolk almost apologized for his supernatural claims, suggesting, “He is beside himself!”  That was a gentle way of protecting the reputation of his family.  Jesus now requires no such excuse.  He comes home a second time with all the evidence he needs to support his claims.  I imagine Jesus thinking, ‘Surely, my family will welcome me now.’         Read more...Collapse )