April 11, 2021
Second Sunday of Easter
“With Great Power: Dancing Together”
In our reading from the Gospel we are invited into the room where the disciples have gathered. This is the evening after Mary found the empty tomb and saw Jesus. The disciples are in hiding fearing they will be the next to be arrested. They fear “the Jews.” (The Pharisees, along with the high priest and chief priests, comprised “the Jews” the religious authorities.)
We must not think that the term refers to the people of Israel.
In our reading from ‘The First Letter of John” the author begins with the word “We”. Well who are they? They are a group of authorized teachers. In the rest of the letter the “we” indicates the common faith that the writer shares with the readers. First John is the work of a single teacher, writing in the Johannine tradition. The opening “we” suggests that he belongs to a school of those teachers. The phrase “from the beginning” refers to the beginning of the Christian faith. The teachers (“we”) were called to hand on the tradition in the Johannine community. Fellowship with God and Son and abiding joy were two signs of genuine Christian Community.
Then we heard the words from “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack.
“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May God forbid love ever leave you empty handed.
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance’
And when you get the chance to sit it out or dance…
I hope you dance!”
The authors of both the Gospel and the Letter of John had a
dream about what the beloved community of God should look like. It was about coming together; about growing their faith in community not in isolation. Some people today say they are spiritual but not religious. They don’t belong to a church but confess belief in a greater power. In order for faith to grow it needs to be supported in community. It doesn’t mean that we all have to believe the same things. But we must accept the call of our Creator to be the hands, feet, and heart of God in life on earth. As Christians, we are called to love all God’s children. The power to work for God is easiest when we work together. While it is true that one person can change the world, working together with the power of the Holy Spirit can do even more to change the world.
The song “I hope you dance” sounds like a mother dreaming about her wish for her child’s life. Her dream is that they will choose to give faith a fighting to chance, to dance the dances of hope, love, and justice. A faith in the power of the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit that will give them the strength not just to dare to dream but to actually work toward bringing those dreams to life.
This week our “dreamer” is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He had a dream where children of God no matter the color of their skin, or the slant of their eyes, could sit at the same table. Rev. Dr. King made progress but his efforts to realize his dream ended when the violence he spoke out against took his life. His famous speech about dreams was delivered in Washington, D.C. in 1963—58 yrs. ago. Here are some of the most famous quotes from that speech:
“Even though we face… difficulties…, I still have a dream. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama…, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!”
Racism is still an arrow that pierces Rev. Dr. King’s dream as well as our dream. But his dreams kept him going when things were difficult. He asked for others to join him in his dream so that they —and we— can keep going too. So that our dreams will give us hope and help us make our dreams come true if we come together, if we dare to dance the dance of justice for all to have a seat at the table.
We have just lost another of our saints to eternal life in the heavenly kin-dom of God—Mary Melissa Tatro . That makes seven in the past year. We are a very small but dedicated community of faith. Each and everyone of you step up and meet the needs of those in our community and beyond. I am blessed beyond measure to serve in such a community.
As we begin to think about opening the Church to in-person worship on May 2, 2021, we may all have different expectations of what it will be like. Will everyone who has not joined us on zoom, for whatever reason, come back to worship in the sanctuary? Will those who return expect everything to go back to the way it was? Will everyone be willing to give the new order of worship a chance? Well, my dream is filled with hope! Hope that no matter what worship looks like we will be a community that continues to work together to be the light of God for each other and for the world beyond the walls of the church. I have a dream that God still has work for us and we will be strengthened by the Power of the Holy Spirit to do that work. I have a dream that we will dare to dance again!
In the greatest of hope!