The Sixth Sunday of Easter
The Very Reverend Torey Lightcap

On Thursday, my phone rang. It was the person who cuts my hair.
She was setting up appointments. She said she could get me in next Wednesday.

In any other situation than the one we’re currently in,
You would rightly be wondering, So what? What makes that a headline?
As it is, though, you understand – and frankly, I’m just thrilled.
I have to admit, it’s been hard not to think about.
And I’m little shocked when I stop to consider it,
That such a small thing as a haircut,
That until a little while ago no one would have noticed
Because it just happens a million times a day,
Might have taken on such a tremendous weight for me.

To be sure, I would much rather continue to be bothered by longer hair than I would get sick.
In the cosmic sense, someone’s little haircut means less than nothing.
But I’ll tell you that that brief phone call made me want to cry tears of joy,
Because it meant that things were maybe starting to slowly shift out of Neutral,
And the world had rung me up to ask if I wanted to be a part of it.
“Yes,” I said. “I’ll have to move a few things around, but Wednesday works just fine.”
Sure , I thought. I have time to come watch the world get unstuck.
Why shouldn’t I have wanted to show up for something like that?

In this strange and conditional life,
God provides by being always completely available, in any circumstance:
Not “standing by on the Bat-phone to fix all your problems” available;
Not “put a dollar in the vending machine to receive exactly what you want” available;
But available in the sense of presence, that we can become present to, and attuned to,
Pointing our inner antenna prayerfully in a Godward direction,
To settle us, to bring us to center, to root and ground us in God’s purpose and will,
And from there, to serve God in the world.
But it doesn’t work unless God holds up God’s end of the bargain.
So truly, for God, Wednesday, or any other day, “works just fine.”

The proof:
On that last night when those disciples gather and Jesus prays over them –
A long prayer, a “priestly” prayer we call it, as recorded in John’s gospel –
When he prays over them, he tells them over and over,
He begs them (and by extension, as readers, he begs us, too) to understand –
That he and the Father are one ,
And that when he goes, he will not leave us comfortless.
“I will not leave you orphaned,” he says. “I am coming to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me;
Because I live, you also will live.
On that day you will know that I am in my Father , and you in me , and I in you.”

This is the promise: because Jesus and the Father are one,
And Jesus and we are one,
We too are wrapped up into that unifying whole.

When he leaves, the Spirit comes; and God in the power of the Holy Trinity remains –
Not lesser, not a swap-out, not some discount comfort;
Not God in any way diminished, but God in holy oneness, in fulness now revealed,
And revealed, as completely available.

The promise of the Holy Spirit is the promise of the Church –
Not a building, but a movement, a collective, a construct for life held in common
By a people living across time and so diverse in every way that it staggers the imagination
To think they could ever settle on believing anything as true together.
Yet they do : they unify, and rally, through the Spirit, under the banner of Christ.

The promise of the Holy Spirit is the promise of an infusion of energy so powerful
That it will propel the word of the Gospel, like a shockwave, to the corners of the universe;
A rush of divine presence so undeniable in our lives
That it sets our hearts aflame and turns our divided tongues into common, sensible speech.

Total availability. Total presence. And we get to participate in it.

In the Garden, after Adam and Eve taste the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,
And see their nakedness, and sew fig leaves for themselves,
They hear the crunch of the footsteps of the Lord, walking the garden path in the cool of the evening.
They hide in shame and fear for what they have done.
And do you remember what God says?
God says, as he strolls the path, “Where are you?” “Where have you gone?”
He made them out of pure love, almost playfully, for companionship for himself and each other.
He made them, out of necessity, to keep and tend the garden and the animals within it.

His question is so haunting, so beautiful, and so true. It rings down the ages. Where are you?
Perhaps the whole of Scripture is nothing more
Than God finding a thousand ways to ask this same question,
And us finding a thousand ways to refuse to answer.
“Where are you?” “I’m waiting to see you; I’m right here, and I always will be.”

Patriarchs and matriarchs. Moses. The exodus. The prophets. The judges. The wars.
Kings and queens, empires risen and blown away.
Poetry, letters, philosophy, history.
Finally, the moment of Christ; the coming of the Spirit;
The correspondence of the early days; and the word of assurance and hope in the face of persecution.

All of it, the restless search of God to find us, be reconciled with us.
“Where are you?”
God has never stopped walking in the garden, asking the question,
And never will until we come out of hiding.
We don’t come out, because we fear punishment;
Meanwhile, at least to me, God doesn’t seem overly interested in judgment and condemnation;
Just wants to be nearer to us.
And the truth is, God knows where we’re hiding anyway.

But what is more – what is so much more – God already knows that we are one.

So the Holy Spirit we confess today,
And anticipate hearing and seeing more of in a few weeks at Pentecost,
Is simply the further searching, the further waiting of a God
Whom we confess is for us, and who is completely available.
Now tell me, doesn’t that bring us a little stillness of mind, a little joy in our hearts?