In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. AMEN.
An elderly pastor was searching his closet for his collar before church one Sunday morning. In the back of the closet, he found a small box containing three eggs and 100 $1 bills.
He called his wife into the closet to ask her about the box and its contents. Embarrassed, she admitted having hidden the box there for their entire 30 years of marriage. Disappointed and hurt, the pastor asked her, "Why?"
The wife replied that she hadn't wanted to hurt his feelings. He asked her how the box could have hurt his feelings. She said that every time during their marriage that he had delivered a poor sermon, she had placed an egg in the box.
The pastor felt that three poor sermons in 30 years was certainly nothing to feel bad about, so he asked her what the $100 was for.
She replied, "Each time I got a dozen eggs, I sold them to the neighbors for $1."
I feel like this when I end up with readings like this to preach on. I have always hated preaching on The Revelation, so that is always out. The Gospel of John is a mixed bag, sometimes I love particular passages, others leave me scratching my head wondering “what in the world can I share out of that?” Of course there are some wonderful lessons to be learned from the story in Acts today, so all is not lost!
The poor jailer was sure that his prisoners had escaped, so rather than face the harsh Roman justice that was meted out to those who lost their prisoners he decided to kill himself. Fortunately just in the nick of time Paul lets him know that they are all still hanging around. You can tell from his response that this truly amazed him. Anyone in their right mind would have tried to escape. So he wants what they have! That is really a challenge for me. Do people want what I have? Does my life effect people so strongly that they want what I have? Those are questions we all have to ask ourselves.
But we need not face these questions alone. It was Jesus prayer in John that we are all to be one. Growing up I often sang a song that went “We are one in the spirit, we are one in the lord.” It was a simple song, with a very powerful message for me at that time. And as I was in my younger years, I actually believed the message. In my small little world it did indeed seem that we were “one in the spirit, … one in the lord.”
But as I grew old and became more and move aware of the differences, fighting, and bickering that was found I the Christian church at large, I realized that for the most part the song was a lie.
As a Christian community we are not acting as if we were truly one in the lord. Instead we continue to fight and bicker both between denominations and with denominations. We do not display a oneness of spirit. And so Jesus prayer has yet to be fulfilled. We are a broken people. And that is the truth – the problem is that we do not experience the contriteness that should accompany our brokenness. Instead too often the Christian community is filled with pride. Everyone is so sure that they are in the right and others are in the wrong.
Of course, I paint with too broad a brush. Everyone does not feel that way. Not all are proud. But sadly in the press, in writings, in debates we too often see too much of pride and an assurance that each is indeed right and way, way, way too little humility. I’m reminded of the words of a wonderful man of God I knew: ”Lord help me to walk with those seeking the truth and protect me from those who think they have found it.” (Bp. James Cruickshank)