Interns Sending Service, 2014
The following sermon was preached by Terry Baeder, Director of Field Education, in Augustana Chapel at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.
Context of the Day
Easter 2 – April 30,
2014 LSTC chapel,
Intern Sending Service
“When it was evening on that day, …the day of Internship Assignment,
the doors of the chapel, where the Middlers were gathered,
were locked… for fear of the Field Ed Department.
Suddenly Marji came and stood among them
and said, “Peace be with you….
As the Father has sent me, so now …I send you.”
O. K. – maybe it was a little different:
Marji didn’t have to “walk through” any walls,
although I did hear that there were a few people
“…breathing” …the “spirits” that evening.
The point is… the middlers were fully
“…living into” this particular Word that evening.
This is actually a great lesson for an intern sending service.
Following a couple of years of “intense theological education”
the disciples are faced with leaving their seminary community
and heading out into the real world.
That transition can be daunting for anyone.
Certainly beneath all of our passion, …our excitement
…there’s a boatload of questions/concerns …sometimes even fear.
What AM I getting into?
Despite all our excitement …finally putting this wisdom into action,
we know the difficulties:
- Disciples get sent to communities whose sense of mission
…Just might be different from mine;
- Then there’s that context stuff:
the difficulty of grounding myself in a community
that sees life, …the world
in a way that I don’t understand;
- And… we have heard the stories …about other interns,
…who have had to wrestle with broken arms
…and broken spirits.
We understand the experience of the disciples,
who shut themselves into a room …and lock the doors.
But, see… this is where the text gets really interesting.
Now… we have all read this text before,
…we know the rest of the story …about Thomas,
who was not with them on this first night…
would make a very specific request.
But on this first visit… these Middlers…
didn’t even know they needed this:
Jesus shows them… his wounds. Huh!
I know this is often interpreted as Jesus’ way to…
“prove” that it was really him,
the one who had been crucified.
I think there is more here: I think this is actually about… embodiment.
Jesus is inviting them …into his body, …into his wounds;
AND… as he does this, he embodies within himself,
something from deep within these Middlers’ souls.
Many years ago I came across a saying that has stuck with me:
(Unfortunately I can no longer find the source)
“If people wore bandages on the outside
for all the pain they feel on the inside,
we would be surprised, …not only at who they are,
…but how many they are.”
I came across this material when I was in the seminary
at a time when I was wrestling within myself,
about where I was headed, …about the very meaning of my ministry.
These words moved me to a reshaped understanding,
not just of my understanding of ministry,
but of my understanding of sin and grace:
Sin …is not so much breaking the rules
as it is the breaking of relationships …with others, …with God
…AND the brokenness I wrestle with deep within myself.
And Grace… is all about healing.
When I see our text through those eyes:
It was in the face of their deep sense of brokenness,
their fear, …their loss, …their confusion?
…that Jesus enters the Middlers’ room,
…shows them his wounds,
and invites them… into his “Peace!”
Jesus invites them… not just to see, …but to touch his wounds
and in that moment he enters their world,
…HE touches, ..he embodies our brokenness.
In the face of our fears, our anxiety,
…whatever is broken deep within,
Jesus invites all of us… Not just to see, …but to touch his wounds,
“…and with his stripes, …we are healed.”
It is only there… in the midst of our brokenness…
that he breathes the word, “Peace,”
Except… this is a Word …that is made flesh,
embodied …in his body …AND in our bodies.
He breathes peace and healing to whatever is broken within us
…and then… empowers us
to be… to be that healing …in his world.
What an incredible invitation! What an incredible power…
to give to a group of broken interns.
“As the father has sent me… so now I send you.
Whoever’s sins you forgive…
whatever brokenness you touch…,
you are, in fact, touching the wounds of Christ.
There, you have the power to breathe…
the healing breath of the Spirit,
“peace! Peace… is with you!”
It is the power of Peter’s words in our second lesson.
He is writing to the dispersed community (interns, graduates)
who are feeling a bit like aliens …somewhat disenfranchised.
And he uses this astonishing, feminist image:
God… “has birthed us anew
…into a living hope.”
Hear the incredibly powerful words from God:
Peace! Peace! It is with you.
As the Father has sent me, …so now I send you!”
And all of God’s children said a loud, “Amen!”
May the Peace …and the Power of God,
which is beyond our human understanding,
set you free …to be God’s Peace. Amen.