I spent this past week serving as a chaplain at Camp Wingmann. It is a great place and a lot of fun. But the reason it is always one of the very best weeks of the year for me is the extraordinary ways I see kids and counselors connecting with Jesus.
Spring has become a season of thanksgiving; Mother’s Day, graduation Sunday, Memorial Day weekend, and Father’ Day. Each of those has its particular joy because that’s what thanksgiving does. So the first lesson today is just that. If you want to make your life better, thank God for everything for which you can think to thank him. And Thanksgiving is a helpful way to approach today’s Gospel, which is a wild story.
In the children’s sermon I demonstrated how we understand our world through perception, speculation and revelation.
Perception involves the things we might see, hear, touch, taste and smell to gather information. Our perception has some limitations and is not always accurate. Some of us need glasses or are colorblind, some are hard of hearing. We are limited by space and time as to what we can personally perceive. Yet, we can see God’s fingerprints in his creation. We can observe God’s majesty in this world in the eyes of a child, the beauty of a simple wildflower, a Florida sunset or the stars at night.
Our normal resting rate of breath is between 12 and 25 breaths per minute. If you’re doing something, almost anything, it goes up. And you’re usually doing something.
That means if you’re older than 72 you have likely taken over a billion breaths. Most often we don’t even notice it – unless you’re asthmatic, have some form of lung disease or dysfunction or during exercise.
And we never breathe just to breathe. It’s always for another aspect of living – be it simply carrying oxygen to every part of our body to make it work or to smell a particular scent, like the crisp air after a thunderstorm.
We don’t live to breathe, but we have to breathe to live. Nothing else works without it.
Jesus prayed, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word…”
Today is the 7th and last Sunday of Easter. We’ve spent the last seven weeks contemplating the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, and what that means for the world and the Kingdom of God. This morning I want to look at the grounding of our faith, which is in the witness of these Apostles.
We tend to come to our faith through a combination of someone’s testimony, then it develops by prayer, reading scripture, study and worship – all of it built upon very old and deep traditions. We cannot help but look at the roots our faith in hindsight, but there is more to it than that and it is important to recognize it. Here is why.
Historian Stephen Ambrose wrote a wonderful narrative history of World War II in Europe called Band of Brothers, which later became a mini-series. He traced Easy Company, of the 2nd Division of the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, who parachuted behind the lines on D-Day, went north to an invasion of Holland, then found themselves at the heart of the Battle of the Bulge. Later they invaded Germany and were stunned when they come across a concentration camp. They eventually wind up in Bavaria and take Hitler’s mountain hideaway – the Eagle’s Nest. He did extensive interviews with those veterans to get the stories straight. It’s stunning to watch a single company push through all of those critical moments, and it is a true story.
Today we are blessed to honor eight graduates. Not all of them could be here today but we’ll honor all eight and recognize those absent when they are next with us.
There are several overlapping patterns to note with this rather august group. First, all of our graduates, including two from high school, five from college and one with a master’s degree, are moving into areas of public care and service.
Today I’ve got to pull Good Shepherd Sunday at Church of the Good Shepherd together with Mother’s Day. And so, naturally, I turn to penguins; specifically, a movie called March of the Penguins.
March of the Penguins documents how emperor penguins survive and even thrive in the world’s harshest environment. By harsh, I mean the temperature gets as low as minus 80 degrees. And it’s windy, at times up to hurricane-force winds.
We recently traveled in Normandy, France, to learn more about the events of D-Day and the days following. As we drove along the country roads winding through rural France, our guide paused beside a narrow, ancient bridge. Had she not pointed it out, we wouldn’t have noticed it. However, during the desperate weeks immediately following D-Day, as Gen. Patton struggled to carve a viable route for the 3rd Army (from the landing beaches to St. Lo, and thus into all of southern France) it soon became clear that this ancient, stone bridge stood at the center of his challenge.
Do you remember when you learned to tie your shoes? I don’t remember how old I was, probably 5 or 6, but my sneakers were blue. That was a big deal! It sure felt like a big deal, and developmentally it is a big deal.