Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!
Christ is risen indeed, I can see him in your faces.
It is Easter week, the Lenten journey is over, yet today we hear a reading from the events of last week. This portion of the gospel of John takes place during the Passover meal that Jesus was celebrating with his disciples, after Judas Iscariot had left the room. This is Jesus’ “last chance” his final time before his death to try and leave his disciples with words of wisdom. These are Jesus’ words of assurance….don’t be afraid, love one another as I have loved you, and I will ask Abba God to send you another Paraclete, another Advocate, another helper who will always be with you.
As I began preparing for this homily, I was thinking that these words were shared by Jesus after the Resurrection, I was thinking that Jesus was saying this to the gathering of disciples huddled in fear, after his death, wondering what would happen to them. Then, as we have been taught to do in our Preaching classes, I checked the setting of the reading. Yet we are hearing it today, in the Daily lectionary, set in the midst of the week of Easter. So, I wonder.
I wonder whether the Disciples were remembering these words in those actual days following the crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. Was this the beginning of the formation of the Christian Church, were the Disciples re-membering their group, striving to recall everything that Jesus had said to them? In those days of wondering and fear, of amazement and confusion, did the followers of Jesus re-form their group by re-telling their stories and holding tight to the words of Jesus.
Isn’t that what we are doing here? This morning? Every morning when we gather together as an assembly of believers, here in the Chapel of St. Ignatius?
Some of us are beginning our last quarter at STM, in May, or June we will leave this place, we will go out and begin to try and figure out where God is calling us to serve in this world. There will be fear, there will be confusion, there will be amazement. There will be a sense of loss, we will have to re-structure our days, figure out how we do this theological work to which we are called without the schedule of classes and assignments, papers and Days of Reflection.
As we spend the next six weeks of the Liturgical year remembering the beginnings of this Jesus movement, the next six weeks of this Spring quarter, as some of you begin the process of synthesis, either in M.Div synthesis or Spirituality Synthesis, the hard work begins. You will be spending time re-visiting the classes you have taken, the papers you have written, the sharing and discussions in class as you do the hard work, the very hard work of synthesizing these incredibly rich and varied experiences of the past four, five, six years.
That is what the Disciples were called to be doing. What we are doing here in this place, today. We are gathered together to hear the stories of those first believers, to listen to the words of Jesus, to hear the promise of an Advocate.
This year, as every year, I hear the words of the Easter greeting: Christ is risen indeed, I can see him in your face! This phrase resonates deeply within me, it speaks to my personal experience of the Living Word of God, this is where I find the Paraclete, the Advocated. I find her, I experience Christ, in the words that I hear in this place, within this gathering. In the prayers and petitions that we lift up together, in the unique Body of Christ that is formed each day in these Daily Prayers. This is where I find the courage to step out in faith, to go forward into that great “unknown” to which we are called. This is where my journey has been supported through the six years since I graduated from STM, this is the gift of this place, this time.
As you prepare to leave this familiar space, this place that has become familiar, and dare I say, home to many of us, how will you spend these last precious days, preparing for how you will continue to be strengthened and comforted in your journey? How will you structure your suddenly structure-less days? How will you continue to faithfully meet, where will you see the Advocate, where will you see Jesus? Who will minister to you as you seek to minister to others?
Jesus says: If you love me and obey the command I give you…the command to love one another and to serve as Jesus served us…remember the Disciples, remember how they re-membered their group. Remember that we see Jesus not only in the faces of the poor, in the faces of those we have been called to serve, but also in the faces of each other, the living Body of Christ in this world.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed, I can see him in your faces! Alleluia!
Jan Cherry, Diaconal Minister
Ecumencial Liturgical Coordinator
School of Theology and Ministry, Seattle Unviersity