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,
Kenobi and Luke Skywalker are trying to deliver stolen plans
the evil empire’s new secret weapon, the Death Star,
their rebel base on the planet of Alderan.
Han Solo and his first mate Chewbacca,
fly what they claim is the fastest ship in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon,
get them to Alderan without any interference from the Empire.
And so, they jump into hyperspace – a science fiction term
for traveling really fast –
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,
pelted by rocks of all shapes and sizes.
Before they can figure out that the planet Alderan had been
caught in it’s tractor beam,
massive gravity-like force that draws an object near.
The crew of the Millennium Falcon –
Solo, Chewbacca and the others – try to escape the tractor beam –
the engines and the thrusters and even the turbo blasters,
are unable to escape the power of the tractor beam,
pulls them closer and closer to the Death Star.
No matter what they do, no matter how hard they try,
drawn closer and closer and closer.
Being drawn close, drawn near to something.
When we’re drawn close to something,
something that happens to us –
something we do, but something which is done to us.
Sure, we can move closer to something,
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.
help but be drawn.
I think of the hundreds and thousands of New Yorkers who,
in the days
following September 11,
Some were there to post pictures in search of loved ones.
But so many others were there simply to gather,
to be with
to share in
the human experience, in the tragedy which just occurred,
the loneliness of loss and pain and anger.
They sang, they prayed, they wept, they meditated, they
They were drawn there.
Out of a
need for community, for comfort, for support,
drawn to a common place.
One young person gathered in the square said, “I just had to
be here. How could I not?”
Today’s Gospel text is about being drawn.
Hundreds – thousands – of people in the
region are drawn to Jesus.
Sure, there’s more than a few ounces of curiosity in this
quite a reputation preceded Jesus wherever he went.
In the first five chapters of Mark’s gospel,
out a demon from the man on the hillside,
the demon into the pigs, who them drown themselves in the sea.
A woman, who simply touched the hem of his robe,
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,
the locals had heard of him,
eager – or curious, or driven, or desperate or excited or anxious or . . . .
Whatever the emotion, whatever the feeling,
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
We are drawn towards God –
towards a God of love and peace and joy and compassion and justice.
We are drawn,
whatever reason – for a variety of reasons, perhaps.
Perhaps we like the people in the pews,
like the pastor (sorry to disappoint you)
like the atmosphere,
like the music,
want to hear God’s word,
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,
experience of being drawn to this place, to this community,
these people, to this God –
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
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
We are drawn to God and to each other.
But as wonderful and blessed as our gathering is, it is
We are separated from our brothers and sisters who are
different from us.
race, class divide us.
And so as we gather here on this morning,
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
different personalities and hopes and joys and expectations
form a community.
But despite all this, we’re incomplete.
Whether it is the fact that fellow Christians – our brothers
and sisters in Christ! –
same God down the street in a slightly different tradition,
or whether it is the fact that racial and economic
from enjoying the richness of God’s diverse creation in our worship,
With such obvious barriers dividing God’s people, we today
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 –
division between Greek and Jew –
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
the blood of Christ . . . in his flesh he has made both groups one
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,
metaphor of shepherds and sheep,
that the shepherds have scattered God’s sheep,
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,
will continue to bring us together,
so that we
might truly see and experience the wholeness of the divine family,
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,
all eat from a common table, drink from a common cup,
equally in the joy and grace of God.