4th Sunday of Easter—Year C—April 21, 2013

4th Sunday of Easter—Year C—April 21, 2013

Preached at the Lutheran Church of Framingham

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord, our strength, and our redeemer.  Amen.

What a week!

…the Boston Marathon bombing, poisoned letters sent to government officials, a fertilizer plant explosion, a city lock down…

And those were just the national headlines.  Some of you had just as sad and hard to cope with events happen in your more personal lives as well.

This week we surely walked through the valley of the shadow of death. 

And for that matter…What a year!

…a school shooting, a super-storm, another mass shooting in a movie theater…

Even just in this congregation, since I began serving here just a little less than a year ago, many of us have had loved ones diagnosed with life threatening conditions and a handful of us have had loved ones die.

This year, we surely have walked through the valley of the shadow of death.

I struggled this week whether to include the Easter Proclamation at the beginning of worship.  We are still in the Easter season, but it kind of seemed out of place to celebrate the resurrection in such a loud and joyous way as we started worship this morning.

But I came around to decision to leave it in.  For it is our Risen Savior Jesus Christ whom we gather together week after week to hear about and praise.  The resurrection saves, even though it does not protect.  So what a more needed time to remember the positive impact that that good news has than in the midst of the valley.

Because through that dark valley, we do not walk alone.

We have one another, and we have the Good Shepherd leading us through.  Leading us with his Word, his meal, his baptism, and his community.

Our God is an active god, not simply sitting far off waiting and watching.  And although that does not mean that God directly helps us make every decision or stops every bad thing from happening, God is part of our lives.

Listen to all the active verbs in Psalm 23…

–       God shepherds us

–       God makes us rest

–       God leads us

–       God restores us

–       God guides us

–       God accompanies us

–       God protects us

–       God comforts us

–       God feeds us

–       God anoints us

–       God houses us forever

As abundant as violence, terror, tragedy, and sadness might be in the world today, God’s grace and mercy is even more abundant.

And we can see it in:

–       the care and dedication of nurses, doctors, first responders, and leaders

–       the strangers who rush to help those in need and the ones who stay out of the way of the professionals

–       the businesses, groups, and households that provided food, rest, bathrooms, and power to weary runners, spectators, police officers, and reporters

–       the expressions of common grief and solidarity through Facebook posts, makeshift memorials, and prayer vigils

–       the black ribbons worn at the London Marathon

–       the mounting donations to the One Fund of Boston

–       the multitudes gathered at overcrowded bloods drives

It is because we are made in God’s image that we are capable of such compassion and it is the Holy Spirit that equips us to serve in this way.

Sometimes it is hard to hear the shepherd’s voice, when we are consumed with fear or technology or hate, but God ever calls out to us, reiterating again and again the promise that we have in Jesus Christ our Lord.  God cries to us from the font, the table, in silence, in the hustle and bustle of dailiy life, and in the midst of bombs exploding—”I’ve got you”  “You are mine”  “You are loved”  “I feel your pain”  “I will heal you and give eternal life”  “Here, have peace”

The resurrection saves us, but it does not protect us.  Bad things still happen in this world broken by sin and evil, but at the same time, nothing can snatch us out of our Father’s hand.  Amen.

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