John 6:1-21? Ephesians 3:14-21

July 26, 2015 by Ken Dale

The story is told of a Texan visiting cousins in Wiltshire, England.? The plan was that he stay a few days with them in their little farm cottage set in the tiny hedged fields.? On his arrival the proud Wiltshire farmer took his cousin on a tour of his estate.? At every point the Texan commented that what he saw was tiny compared to the Texas equivalent:? ?call that? a field, we?ve got back yards bigger than that; call that a tractor, my kids got toys bigger than that; call that a heard of cows, we?ve got more pet pussy cats than that??.and so on.? This all got to the Wiltshire farmer and at supper he left the room for a while.? The Texan was the first to go to bed that night.? Soon there was a scream and the Texan appeared at the parlor door holding at arm?s length what he had found in his bed ? the family tortoise.? Shaking the Texan said, ?What do ya call this??? The farmer replied, ?That be a Wiltshire flea, and I bet thee hasn?t got bigger than that in Texas!?

As I mentioned in Snippets, this past week I have been listening/reading Richard Rohr?s book, Eager to Love, and have been really loving his reflections on the faith and life of Francis of Assisi and all that he shared with his friend and companion Claire.? There is a lot of theology in it ? and it?s been exciting and inspirational to hear about the universality of God, of Christ, and the greatness and wonder of the Creator, the Creation, and how and where Christ dwells. ?It?s been a week of deep thought ? just how great God is.? ?I?m not sure it would be good to share in a sermon but it made me wonder how often we really think about and talk about what we believe when we say God, or Jesus Christ ? I got a kick that at one point Rohr raised the question of how many think Christ is Jesus? last name.? Rohr says we say a lot when we say Jesus Christ ? Jesus being the cosmic presence and Christ being the eternal being of Divine Love.

I had the thought that the easiest way to do this sermon would be for us to just sing How Great Thou Art and ask you to really pay attention to the words you were singing.? Does a flea the size of a tortoise work for us when we think about God ? or connecting with God, which is what prayer is?? That?s quite a prayer Paul has for the Epheisans!? I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.? That?s a big prayer for Paul to pray and I?d join him in it for us ? and Paul is so very aware of the God to whom he connects with in that prayer.? I just wonder if we ever think about God and the greatness of God.

In his book, Richard Rohr really gets the gray matter working to contemplate the greatness of God and the wonderful mix of humanity and divinity in the life of Jesus.? Paul is doing the same thing.? The verse begins ?For this reason? ? Paul has been speaking of his ministry to the Gentiles and he is a messenger speaking of the ?boundless riches of Christ.?? Boundless!? In verse 9 of this chapter he is saying that what is revealed in Christ is ?the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things.?? Paul is in awe of that which he speaks!? He is saying that every human family?s namesake is God who is in Christ.? No nation, clan or family ? no person ? is beyond the love of God.

One of the things that Rohr states that I found really exciting is how small the Church has made God ? how exclusive the Church makes God and affirming Francis of Assisi?s understanding that the Spirit of Christ dwells in every soul!? Do we ever contemplate the awesomeness ? the greatness of God and what we believe God is about?? Creator of the universe ? and knowing what we know of that universe today?? There is so much mystery in that ? we cannot even think of beginning to comprehend ? but as humanity progresses we continue to learn ?the language of God? as one author captures it.? Another great book and that?s the title and it speaks of how science and faith do not have to be at war with each other.? The author says we are learning the language of God.? We are called to love God with heart and mind!

Eternal Love ? and the greatness of that love?? Having these thoughts floating around in my mind all week I found the point captured in a most wonderful way when at the book discussion this past Wednesday night David Wright made the comment that he believes his love will outlive him.? Exactly ? we are part of something so much bigger than ourselves, something that is eternal, and something that is Love!? Are we thinking?? Are we connecting with the greatness of it?? That?s what supposedly brings us together in ?worship? on Sunday mornings.? Isn?t it?? Are we in touch with that?? Are we feeling connected?? Rohr makes the statement that it is less about being correct and more about being connected ? run with that thought.? A dear friend from long ago that was a Catholic priest once captured it saying ??it?s more important to be in love than it is to be right.?? God desires us to be in relationship with God!

Yes ? it?s food for thought ? it?s about that inner being, ?soul food? if you will.? Paul?s prayer for the church ? for us ? ?that you may have the power to comprehend? to know the love of Christ.?? Obviously it is a prayer that only God can answer but I sometimes wonder if we really give thought to that great realm of God of which we are part.? It really is awesome if we think about it.? It is eternal!

When we pray ? we connect with God ? we connect with that eternal Love that is universal and yet in so many ways so local as we seek to live it out ? close as breathing, distant as the farthest star.? How big is our God ? and how big are our prayers.? It?s always bugged me when I hear people say ?all we can do is pray.?? It is spoken like it?s a last resort ? but look what Jesus did and in the story we heard this morning – his only prayer is that he gave thanks for what he had ? 5 loaves and two fish ? and 5,000 people were fed.? I recently read that the ?amen? at the end of a prayer is not the closing but the emphasis of significance and importance.? It is not the end but the beginning as we work to live that for which we pray.? If we were mindful of that when we prayed, would it shift our thinking ? indeed!? ALL WE CAN DO IS PRAY ? THAT IS ALL!? We connect with God ? we connect with the eternal ? no small thing.? And however it can or cannot be explained ? look what sometimes happens to five loaves and two fish ? and they had leftovers!? I love leaving it in mystery too.

To keep us thinking I close with some of Joan Chittister?s words on ?A Prayerful Heart:?

There are books aplenty written on the subject of prayer, of course, but I have come to the point where I doubt that anybody can really ?teach? anybody how to pray.? That, I figure, is what life does.? We can learn prayer forms, of course but we do not learn either the function or purpose of prayer until life drags us to it, naked and in pain?.the best way to learn to do it was to do it for a long, long, time.? Most important of all though, at least for me, was the line in the Rule of Benedict that instructs the monastic community to keep prayer brief and the monastics to leave chapel quietly so that anybody who wants to stay behind for private prayer can do so without interruption.? In those two simple statements I learned enough about prayer to last me for a lifetime:? First, that in order to learn to pray we need to do it regularly.? And second, that real contemplative prayer starts where formal prayer ends.? Point: Prayer is not a ?technique?.? It is an attitude of mind, a quality of soul, and a dimension of the daily.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Amen? (- and remember that marks beginning)