Sunday, 10 May 2020

Leaving, 5th Sunday of Easter, Year A

Jn 14:1-12
There’s an old joke that goes like this:
When a priest announces that he’s leaving the parish, a third of the people cry, a third of the people rejoice, and a third of people don’t even notice the difference!

By now, most of you will have heard yesterday’s announcement that I’m leaving the parish this summer (to be appointed to full time seminary work).
Now, I’m aware that we are living, amidst the coronavirus, in a time of great uncertainty, and that my leaving just adds to that uncertainty,
so, I thought I’ll make my sermon address that uncertainty.
My basic point is this:
If the apostles could survive the LORD JESUS leaving them, then the parish can CERTAINLY survive MY leaving!

In the Gospel we just heard the Lord Jesus announce that He was going, “I am now going…”(Jn 14:2).
And, while they didn’t understand it yet (even though He had predicted it e.g. Mk 8:31), the Lord was not only leaving them but leaving them in a horrible way:
by crucifixion and death.
But, even if He hadn’t been going to depart in such a brutal manner, we might well imagine that they still wouldn’t have wanted Him to go:
they were WITH Him because they liked being with Him;
and they like Him being with them.
They didn’t want change -we can be pretty sure of that.

But if He hadn’t left them,
if they hadn’t endured change,
then He couldn’t have opened the way to the Father, the way to heaven, the way to the place He was preparing for them.

And MY leaving?
I don’t know what lies ahead for you, but I trust God, I trust God FOR YOU.

When I think back on my own life, and think of all the different priests who have ministered to me…
they’ve all been different,
-I haven’t been able to RECEIVE the SAME thing from each one;
but their DIFFERENCES have also been a gift to me,
-they have each helped me in different ways, BECAUSE they were different.
We need to TRUST God that He will help us, in different ways.

We just heard the Lord Jesus addressing His troubled disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled”(Jn 14:1).
He told them to “trust in God”(Jn 14:1).
What does God have in store for this community, and for the individuals within this community?
I don’t know.
But He has shown that He is a good God.
And I am confident that WHATEVER lies ahead, He will find MANY different ways to shepherd the sheep of this flock.

He doesn’t always lead us in EASY ways.
He doesn’t always lead us in the way we want.
But He DOES always lead us.
And even with the uncertainty of my going, He will lead YOU still.

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