Monthly Sermon Series: Sermon Offering for Sunday, June 14
There is a pier that extends into the bay at our camp and conference center. Many members of my diocese, including myself, have spent countless hours at the end of that pier talking with God. It is a thin place in the barrier between us and God. Think about where your thin places and times occur. Is it a special place, a favorite song, or maybe the experience of Eucharist? These places and times are an important part of our spiritual life. In today’s Old Testament reading, we see Abraham visiting the Oaks of Mamre, a place where he built an altar to the Lord in Chapter 13 of Genesis. We assume he is there because it is a special place for him to pray and be near God. As he rests in the heat of the day, he receives three visitors. He invites them to stop and receive refreshment. Sarah and Abraham then prepare a feast including bread, a calf, milk, and curds. Later, one of the visitors announces that Sarah will conceive a son, thereby revealing that these are not ordinary men. Whether God chose that moment to visit Abraham or whether Abraham was able to hear the words of the Lord because he was in his special place is unclear. What is clear is that thin places are important. They are moments where we can be filled up with the love of God and feel so blessed and grateful.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is in the cities and villages proclaiming the good news of the kingdom. We are told that when he saw the crowds of people, he had compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He complains to his disciples that the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few. This is a well-known phrase that is more true today than ever before. Jesus responds to the needs of the people by sending out His disciples to cast out demons and cure the sick. He didn’t just send them out though. It states that He gave them authority to be His emissaries. They were able to do the work He gave them to do because He had taught them how to do it. I imagine them sitting by the fire in the evenings listening and learning and being filled up with his knowledge and love.
We are in difficult times right now. Many of us cannot visit our thin place. That pier is still there, but I cannot drive to it now. How can we create new places where we can encounter the divine? These are not easy questions, and most of us will need to find our own way to answer them. The good news we must always remember is that God sees that we have become like lost sheep and is calling us to Him. We can create new thin places where we can encounter the divine and receive the strength and power to help heal a grieving world. We say that God is love, but God is also hope. In that hope, we can shout a loud “Thanks be to God!”