Preaching to the Choir

These are some sermons, but mostly lectionary discussions. It also has prayers for some Sundays.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Easter 6a: John 14:15-21

Here are some thoughts that are coming to me today about this scripture and especially the verse; "I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you."

Just how many orphans are there in this world of ours? How many in our country? How many in our state? Our city or town? Our neighborhood? What is it like to be an orphan? Today in the 21st Century, the number of orphans worldwide are at about 150 million... and growing. At any time in America there are about 100,000 children available for adoption. In countries like Africa, the number children orphaned by AIDS is staggering. About every 13 seconds, a child in Africa is orphaned because of the AIDS virus.

Africa has the greatest proportion of children who are orphans. In 2001, 34 million children in sub-Saharan Africa were orphans, one-third of them due to AIDS. Because of AIDS, the number of orphans is increasing dramatically. By 2010, the number of orphans will reach 42 million. Twenty million of these children - or almost 6 percent of all children in Africa -will be orphaned due to AIDS.

Asia has the largest number of orphans. Due to Asia's large population, the number of orphans in Asia is much larger than in Africa. In 2001, there were 65 million orphans, with approximately 2 million of them orphaned due to AIDS. The populations in many Asian countries are so large, however, that even at a low prevalence, the number of people with HIV/AIDS threatens to surpass the numbers in some of the most severely affected African countries. Even a relatively small increase in prevalence could lead to even greater numbers of orphans due to AIDS. If you want to know more you can read the report; Children on the Brink by USAID

Top 20 Orphan Issuing Countries FY-2007 or Immigrant Visas Issued to Orphans Coming to U.S. from the state Department.

I have adopted three children who were once orphans, abandoned for whatever reason. One was abandoned on the steps of the orphanage. One was abandoned at the door of a medical facility. One was abandoned in a box on a street. All three abandoned. Two of them appeared to be abandoned where they would be found and taken care of and hopefully adopted. One was abandoned in a way that reflected her state of affairs, she was not wanted, and in there seems to be a hope that she would not be found an cared for. The two that were abandoned where they could be found, are doing well. They are able to accept love and give love. They were taken care of and made ready to be adopted. The third was found, taken to a hospital, given a minimal amount of care, touch and nurture. She really struggle with social skills, relationships, giving and receiving love. Don't know if she will ever overcome what happened to her little soul.

How can Jesus say, I will never leave you orphaned, and yet there are kids left orphaned everyday?

The word “orphan,” according to Richard Burridge, can also refer to the disciple of a departed teacher (The Lectionary Commentary). But Barbara Brown Taylor’s beautiful sermon, “Good News for Orphans,” uses the parent/child image to describe the feeling of security that children long for when they’re left alone. They want to be reassured that someone greater, stronger, smarter is not only present but in charge. And they want to be reassured that this someone loves them.

Taylor says, "from where we sit it has been so long that some of us wonder if we have not been orphaned after all" (Gospel Medicine).

Barbara Brown Taylor always brings a text like this one, no matter how difficult, right back to the heart of the message. She always brings it home: "'...and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them' (John 14:23). Not visit. Not pass through from time to time. Not send a postcard. 'We will come to them and make our home with them'…John only uses the word 'home' twice in his gospel, both times around the supper table..." Is it any wonder that our church home has a table at its center, not just architecturally but at the heart of our sacramental life together? This "home," Taylor writes, is not "a temporary place but a permanent one, an abode large enough to accommodate the love that binds him to God on one hand and binds him to us on the other, a giant heart of a place with room enough for everyone whom love unites. It is John's idea of heaven to move in with the God who has moved in with us.."

PS. That's my Kate in the purple on your left hand side.


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