The Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C
Acts 16:9-15; Revelation
21:10, 22-22:5; John 14:23-29
May 9, 2010
Grace to you and peace, from the one who is, who was, and who is to
Our first reading opens with these words:
During the night Paul had a vision:
there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying,
"Come over to Macedonia and help us."
When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to
being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to
There’s lots to chew on in these first two verses, and indeed in the
whole first reading,
but I find three things particularly striking:
Paul had a vision,
and from that vision his party was convinced
that God had called them to do something.
Vision, conviction, mission …
I’ll admit that for us today the Biblical writings can seem a bit
with all its tales of visions and dreams and prophetic utterances …
People don’t have visions like that any more, do they?
Well, my mother called me just last evening with a vision of sorts,
something that came to her in a dream,
and she wanted to test it out.
She said to me, “Chris, I had a dream the other night,
and in that dream you called me on Mother’s Day.
And when you called me on Mother’s Day,
you told me that you and Jessicah were expecting your fourth child.”
I let her sit on the other end of that phone line in silent suspense for
a few moments,
before I told her that the vision she received in her dream was far
and that Jessicah and I were indeed not having another child.
Yes, we have become suspect of visions – I know I have! –
be those visions of more children proffered by hopeful grandmothers,
visions of wealth promised by cable television hucksters,
or visions of grand political transformation at the hands of an
But if we skeptically cast aside visions altogether, we invite our own
for as the old King James translates Proverbs 28:19,
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
If we depend so much on reason that we give up on dreaming,
we miss out on the voice of God that spoke to Joseph,
betrothed to an unwed yet pregnant Mary.
If we give up on dreaming,
we miss out on the voice that called Jeremiah to be a young yet
if we give up on dreaming,
we miss out on the voice of God that compelled a man named Martin
to tell us about the dream he had of justice for this land.
For the way I read these verses from Acts,
the vision from God comes first,
and from that vision comes a strength of conviction to do something …
and this strength of conviction based on this God-given vision
leads us into mission, proclaiming God’s truth and giving him
through word and deed.
Yet I think the thing most lacking from the church is vision,
and by “church” I mean the broader church,
the Lutheran church, yes, but also the broader Christian church in
What I think is most lacking from the church is a God-given vision.
Anchored in Scripture and tradition, where is God leading us this
What is God calling us to do?
To whom is God sending us?
Who or where is our Macedonia?
And without a vision … the people, and their mission, perish.
Don’t get me wrong. There are visionaries in the church.
Over the weekend several members of Resurrection gathered
with hundreds of other Lutherans from 80 DC-area Lutheran
in our annual synod assembly,
to worship, pray, and make decisions about the ministry we do
We heard from Pastor Amy Thompson-Sevimli,
Assistant to the Bishop and my predecessor here at Resurrection,
who articulated a vision of a church
that goes into the places where young adults dwell,
a church that might hold Bible studies in bars
and wonders about God with newcomers online;
a church that knows it has something to give to
and something to receive from,
the teeming masses of young adults
– some raised in and committed to the church, many not –
masses of young adults that flock to this unique city every
Many years ago a group of women here at Resurrection had a vision …
a vision to support the needy in our neighborhood.
From that vision was born the Clothes Closet,
a wonderful ministry that, week-in and week-out,
provides individuals and families with much-needed clothing at no
allowing them to spend their precious few dollars on food and
rather than on clothing.
And just a year ago our dear brother Fu’uma had a vision,
a vision of using what little bit of yard God has blessed us with
to grow vegetables for the benefit of the community.
Last year’s modest harvest has yielded a more ambitious vision
seen by Fu’uma, Alice, and others,
a vision to grow fresh vegetables for the Arlington Food Assistance
where an ever-increasing number of food-poor Arlingtonians
can receive groceries to prepare healthy meals at no cost.
Indeed all of these visions,
and the visions about this place that I know God has given many of
are reflections of the vision given to John in the book of
from which we have been reading this Easter season.
For in Revelation we see John’s vision of a New Jerusalem,
come down out of heaven from God,
a city where all peoples are drawn by the light of God,
where the tree of life provides fruit for all its inhabitants,
and its leaves provide healing for societies and nations broken
Buoyed by this vision of a New Creation fashioned in God’s love, power,
the early church defied persecution and death to proclaim Christ
to a world not necessarily interested in listening.
And yet, seeing a vision and strong in conviction, the early church
persevered in mission.
For their faith and witness and holy legacy, we give thanks to God.
Buoyed by this vision of a promised New Jerusalem,
we too can be bold to dream and to see visions of our own,
in the tradition of the saints of old and together with the faithful
visionaries of today,
despite whatever odds and enemies plot against us.
Let us dare to share our own glimpses of God’s future with each other,
to put out on the table what God has put in our hearts,
and to trust the promised Holy Spirit to move in and through this
to teach us everything and remind us of all our Lord has done
for us …
Let us dare to do this,
because we dare to believe in a God who has promised us so stinkin’
a God who has already allowed us to see life after death in Christ
Jesus our Lord,
a God who has already bestowed on us the promise of eternal life,
and the vision of a New Jerusalem.
We dare to dream, we dare to see visions,
we dare to be confident in God’s calling to join his mission in the
because God dared to love us, dared to save us, and dared to give us