We are drawn

Pentecost 6, Year A
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56; Eph 2:11-22; Jer 23:1-6
July 20, 2003

 

Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and the Lord
Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,

 Obi-wan
Kenobi and Luke Skywalker are trying to deliver stolen plans

 of
the evil empire’s new secret weapon, the Death Star,

 to
their rebel base on the planet of Alderan. 

 They hire
Han Solo and his first mate Chewbacca,

 who
fly what they claim is the fastest ship in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon,

 to
get them to Alderan without any interference from the Empire.

And so, they jump into hyperspace – a science fiction term
for traveling really fast –

 and within
a few movie minutes they arrive at Alderan.

Or what they thought was Alderan.

When they pulled out of hyperspace they found themselves in
an asteroid field,

 being
pelted by rocks of all shapes and sizes.

Before they can figure out that the planet Alderan had been
destroyed

 by the
Death Star,

 they are
caught in it’s tractor beam,

 a
massive gravity-like force that draws an object near.



The crew of the Millennium Falcon –

 Han
Solo, Chewbacca and the others – try to escape the tractor beam –

 they work
the engines and the thrusters and even the turbo blasters,

 but they
are unable to escape the power of the tractor beam,

 which
pulls them closer and closer to the Death Star.

No matter what they do, no matter how hard they try,

 they are
drawn closer and closer and closer.

 

Being drawn close, drawn near to something.

When we’re drawn close to something,

 it’s
something that happens to us –

 it’s not
something we do, but something which is done to us.

Sure, we can move closer to something,

 but when
we’re drawn to something it is an outside, external force which draws us.

 It’s as if
there’s a string on our chest pulling us towards.

 We can’t
help but be drawn.

 



I think of the hundreds and thousands of New Yorkers who,

 in the days
following September 11,

 were drawn
to

Manhattan

’s

Washington

Square

Park

.

Some were there to post pictures in search of loved ones.

But so many others were there simply to gather,

 to be with
other people,

 to share in
the human experience, in the tragedy which just occurred,

 to share
the loneliness of loss and pain and anger.

They sang, they prayed, they wept, they meditated, they
stood silently.

They were drawn there.

 Out of a
need for community, for comfort, for support,

 they were
drawn to a common place.

One young person gathered in the square said, “I just had to
be here. How could I not?”

 



Being drawn.

Today’s Gospel text is about being drawn.

Hundreds – thousands – of people in the

Galilee

region are drawn to Jesus.

Sure, there’s more than a few ounces of curiosity in this
mix –

 after all,
quite a reputation preceded Jesus wherever he went.

In the first five chapters of Mark’s gospel,

 Jesus casts
out a demon from the man on the hillside,

 sending
the demon into the pigs, who them drown themselves in the sea.

A woman, who simply touched the hem of his robe,

 was healed
of a life-long hemorrhage.

A twelve-year old girl was raised from the dead.

The winds and the waters were calmed by Jesus’ command.

A leper was healed.

And teachings. Jesus
spoke with wisdom and authority that amazed even the priests and scribes.

And so yes, when Jesus came to a town,

 chances are
the locals had heard of him,

 and were
eager – or curious, or driven, or desperate or excited or anxious or . . . .

Whatever the emotion, whatever the feeling,

 they were
drawn. They were drawn near, to each
other and to Jesus.

 



We are drawn.

We are drawn here, to this place where we hear the peculiar
message of the Gospel.

We are drawn together – we do not hear this peculiar message
alone.

We are drawn towards God –

 drawn
towards a God of love and peace and joy and compassion and justice.

We are drawn,

 for
whatever reason – for a variety of reasons, perhaps.

Perhaps we like the people in the pews,

 perhaps we
like the pastor (sorry to disappoint you)

 perhaps we
like the atmosphere,

 perhaps we
like the music,

 perhaps we
want to hear God’s word,

 perhaps we
believe it’s the right thing to do.

Perhaps, too, it is a combination of things.

Perhaps, though, we aren’t sure exactly why we come here.

Perhaps it’s somewhat of an uncontrollable attraction,

 an
experience of being drawn to this place, to this community,

 to
these people, to this God –

 and
we don’t know why!

We just know that we’re drawn, we’re here, and we need what
we get here.



There’s something about the spiritual food – the Word and
the Meal –

There’s something about the community, where we experience
the love of God.

There’s something about this place and the practice of
coming here,

 to dwell
with God and God’s people.

Yes, there’s something about this God and God’s people that
draws us near.

We are drawn.

 

So, like those people in Galilee 2000 years ago, we are
drawn.

We are drawn to God and to each other.

But as wonderful and blessed as our gathering is, it is
incomplete.

We are separated from our brothers and sisters who are
different from us.

 Religion,
race, class divide us.

And so as we gather here on this morning,

 we are
gathered as the incomplete people of God.

Yes, it is a blessing that God has drawn us together, to be
with each other and to hear the Word.

Yes, we are blessed to be in community together,

 for God has
worked many miracles to bring us

 and our
different personalities and hopes and joys and expectations

 together to
form a community.

But despite all this, we’re incomplete.



Whether it is the fact that fellow Christians – our brothers
and sisters in Christ! –

 worship the
same God down the street in a slightly different tradition,

or whether it is the fact that racial and economic
differences

 keep us
from enjoying the richness of God’s diverse creation in our worship,

we’re incomplete. 

With such obvious barriers dividing God’s people, we today
are incomplete.

 

But the Good News is that God’s promise is to draw us – and
all God’s children – near

In the second reading St. Paul reminds us that the great
division in his day –

 the
division between Greek and Jew –

 was torn
down by God.

Describing God’s action to bring together two peoples
formerly divided Paul says,

 “But now in
Christ Jesus you who were far off have been brought near

 by
the blood of Christ . . . in his flesh he has made both groups one

 and
has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.”

Yes, dear friends, it is God’s hope and intention and plan
for humanity that we be united.

In the first reading from the prophet Jeremiah,

 using the
metaphor of shepherds and sheep,

 God decries
that the shepherds have scattered God’s sheep,

 for
God desires unity, not division, among God’s people.



Yes, God’s promise is to break down the hostility that
exists between us and our neighbors,

 so that we
can live in the fullness of God’s grace.

God does bring us together,

 and God
will continue to bring us together,

 so that we
might truly see and experience the wholeness of the divine family,

 and be
comforted by the compassion and grace of a God who draws us near.

Near to God.

Near to each other.

And near to a future kingdom, where the walls of hostility
and division are broken down,

 and where
all eat from a common table, drink from a common cup,

 and share
equally in the joy and grace of God.

Amen.

About Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. National Guardsman. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.
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