Gospel: John 17: 1-19
Sermon for May 28, 2017: “Misfits”
With the Memorial Day holiday this weekend, it marks the official beginning of summer.
And I know how I’m going to celebrate.
By going to the movies.
Yep. This week I intend on watching not one but two movies.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Yep, if there is a comic book movie, I’m going to watch it.
Probably more than once.
And I can’t wait to see the crowds that fill the theaters.
And how they react.
I remember when I first saw the Avengers:
People came in costume to this event.
I saw many Captain Americas, Thors, Iron Men, Black Widows.
And then after what seemed like an eternity of sneak previews the movie started…
And the crowd went nuts. People shouting and cheering.
And cheering for every moment. They cheered when Iron Man showed up, they roared when Captain America first appeared, the women passed out when Thor appeared.
They were into it.
I was into it.
And with each cheer I looked around and smiled and I looked at Kristen and I proudly said…
These are MY people!
But it wasn’t always that way.
Growing up reading comic books and collecting them was not as accepted as it is now.
When boys were starting to get into girls I was getting into XMen Avengers Spider-Man
And it was hard to find acceptance among my peers because they saw my hobby as a waste of time, a waste of money
And since they thought my hobby was strange they thought I was strange.
They saw me as someone not cool enough to be a part of their group.
And so there were times I felt alone.
And feeling alone in this world can be very hard.
Feeling like you don’t have a place or a people to call your own can break your heart.
And I think about the youth today
The ones deemed socially awkward and not invited to the cool parties
The ones who are smart, who people call nerds, judged unfairly because they understand the work or actually LIKE learning
Or the ones who are gay who live in fear of harassment or bullying.
Sometimes from their own families.
I also think of the athletes.
The ones people assume have it all together.
But inside hurt when someone calls them dumb jocks.
Or how about the cheerleader who likes cheerleading, dancing, showing school spirit, but is considered only important because of looks.
And it doesn’t have to be just at school.
At work, I bet you know someone who seems to be set aside from others.
Or maybe it’s you.
And it doesn’t just happen at school or work,
It can and does happen sadly in church.
Think of the people who are judges because they are:
single with a baby,
Going through a divorce
Or they are:
A different color,
A different culture,
A different sexual orientation.
Being judged hurts.
Being left out is a downright tragedy.
There is nothing more devastating in this life than to hear someone tell you that You Don’t Matter.
And that is why Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel practically scream at us.
Because the last thing Jesus wants you to think or believe is that you don’t matter to God.
This morning’s Gospel comes from John 17, and the whole chapter is one big prayer.
It is a prayer that Jesus makes to God his Father.
There are some things you need to remember when you read and hear this prayer.
This is the end of the section in John called the Final Discourse, the Last Supper.
I call it the Final Confession because this is where Jesus lays it all out for his disciples.
He tells them why he came (to teach and to save), and what he must do (to die)
He also confesses his LOVE for them.
And that they are now his FRIENDS.
And Jesus reveals to them that he CHOSE the disciples for this moment in time.
They were not picked randomly.
They were chosen.
There are moments in the Gospels where Jesus prays to God and we don’t know what or for whom he prays.
That’s what makes this prayer so special because it is said out loud, and we know that Jesus is praying FOR his disciples.
And what a powerful prayer!
Because Jesus points something out for the first that we need to pay attention to:
Jesus says he has protected and guarded these friends.
How did he do this?
Maybe he protected them from imprisonment.
Or from being attacked.
But what is important is that Jesus has protected them.
And then he says, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.”
The world hated them
Some would say they were hated because they followed Jesus but let me give you another perspective…
Maybe they were hated because of the kind of people they were.
None of the 12 would be considered good students.
If they were, they would have already been a school with a Rabbi at a much younger age.
But if you weren’t good enough to be rabbis, you had to go do something else.
Like being fishermen.
A good vocation, a good wage, but not considered elite.
Or you could become a tax collector, and with that become one of the most hated in all Jerusalem, because you would be considered a traitor to your own race, working for the enemy (the government)
Or you end up like a zealot, someone who would kill the tax collector under other circumstances, and to be honest, a zealot is not the easiest person to get along with, in a way he is awkward.
Can you imagine the group of misfits around that table with Jesus?
And even though they are not present, let me also add the women who followed Jesus, women were considered second class. Their word was not valid. They were good for only two things: cooking and raising children.
But Jesus saw them and treated them as people.
Getting back to the misfits around that table.
The world hated these misfits.
But Jesus loved them.
He loved them so much that he prays to God to PROTECT them from the Evil One.
He knows the world will be against them, but they have a powerful ally.
When Jesus prays this prayer he is making a vow,
And that oath is:
“These disciples do not belong to the world, because they belong to ME!
These misfits are MY people.
And no one can or will take them away from me.”
This morning, I am here to tell you today that YOU all of YOU are Jesus’ people.
You are children of God.
You know how I know that?
Because of words like these in our gospel.
Because of what Jesus did to protect his friends.
He died for them.
He died for us.
And our God,
does not do that for someone he hates.
Or for someone he calls stupid, ugly, or a waste of time.
Jesus does it for someone he loves, that he cherishes, that he protects.
I also know this because of the promises made at baptism, not just by the parents, the guardians, or the church but the promise made by God.
With each splash, God washed us in his love, his acceptance, and his family.
When the sign of the cross was placed on our forehead that was God saying:
“Welcome, my child.”
No matter what the world throws at us, God is there either to:
To take the hit for us
Or to catch us when we fall.
And that is good news.
That is the good news
And the Jesus we need in our lives today.
It is the Jesus the WORLD needs.
So how do we bring this Jesus to the world?
By welcoming everyone
who comes through those doors.
And if some man comes in with tattoos all over his body and you want to stare like he is an animal at a zoo, remember
what God says “He is my people.”
And if a single mother comes in with a baby, and the baby is crying, loudly, and the mother is trying to comfort the baby while struggling to hear the word remember
God says, “SHE is my people.”
Or if a young person comes in wearing a Metallica t-shirt and shorts, and you think he or she is not dressed for the occasion, remember God says, “YEP. That one is my people, too.”
But you don’t have to remember God’s words when you are at church.
You can give this Jesus to everyone you see.
At school, maybe the next time you or your friends laugh at someone, take the courage to say, “He’s is one of God’s people.”
Or at work, and that co-worker once again gets on your last nerve, remember “that person is one of God’s people too.”
Rather than arguing over what divides us we need to talk about WHO unites us.
Maybe, just maybe, people are waiting for us Christians to do just that.
They are waiting for us to show not just tell them that THIS Jesus does exist
and that THIS Jesus really loves them.
And he means it.
Maybe this morning you have experienced loneliness.
Times of hurt and pain and rejection.
Times you feel like you are the misfit.
Maybe you are going through it now.
If you are or have, remember this bible passage from John.
And remember the sign of the cross that was placed on your forehead at your baptism,
And remember these words promised by God:
“YOU are MY child. MY beloved child. And I am with you through the good and bad times…ALWAYS.”