John 10:22-30

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

What a wonderful reminder for us in this Easter season. A reminder that we are living in a post-Good Friday World and are people of the resurrection. We are Easter people, not just in this season of Easter, but throughout all of our lives. This is easily forgotten though. We fall into our own humanness. We come to the realization that we are broken people living in a broken world and try to cover it all up and pretend that everything is alright or we at times fall into a depression and hopelessness. Within this though is a longing! A longing and desire to move from a point where we feel broken to a point where we can be healed. A longing to be with others that are experiencing the same thing in life that we are. A longing to be in relationship and through that relationship to experience God in a deeper and hopefully more profound way. The God within us is hungry to embrace the God that is outside of us.

The Jewish people that are talking to Jesus in John’s gospel this morning are longing for the scripture to be fulfilled. They don’t want to be kept in suspense any longer. As we will come to find out, Jesus does not fit their expectation of a messiah. In their longings, they are still hesitant to believe and follow.

In our longings we reach out to make connection with those that will welcome us and those that we have familiarities. It is easy for us to connect with those that are of the same gender, same race, or same nationality. We then find that it is easy to set up these divisions among ourselves. However, this can create a sense of tribalism which tends to pit one tribe against the other. This seems to be the story of humanity from the dawn of time.

Our longings can also attract us to those things which steer us even further away from God. Why do you think we have gangs within our society? Why are we compelled to do those things that we know deep down in our hearts are not the right thing? I could go on and on. It all comes down to our own individual longing to be part of something greater; to be recognized by another human, even if that recognition is not healthy. Truly though, within that deep longing, is the desire to belong to something greater; something that gives some sense of purpose to life.

These past few days I have had the opportunity to be with writers, readers, and those of faith at Calvin College in Grand Rapids. I was there for the Festival of Faith and Writing. It fulfilled the longing within me to learn from others that write and to maybe grasp some inspiration and guidance from those that have been successful. At times I felt that I did belong there and honestly at others times I felt that I was way out of my league when talking to others that share their creative gifts.

So, what does it mean to belong, beyond our personal identities of gender, race, or nationality? There are many things that we can belong to. We can choose to belong to our local service clubs, the Rotary or Lions. We can choose to belong to certain groups in our social media lives on Facebook. We belong to the group of people that we work with as we are a group of employees working together to accomplish the same objective. We can also belong to those things that may be just a little more personal as well. We belong to a family, whatever shape or form that that may resemble. We belong to a church, a congregation, that we can come to in times of uncertainty for support and love.

We belong to something much greater. We belong to Christ. It is in his words this morning that we are reminded that we are part of a family much greater than we can ever imagine. We have sisters and brothers beyond our wildest imaginations. We are much greater than what we surround ourselves with in our day to day lives. We have brothers and sisters that are spread out all around the world and it is here that are longing can be fulfilled. Are we ready to welcome that into our lives and be a part of it? Within that belonging we are embraced with a love that is immeasurable.

While Jesus is in God’s hands, we are in the hands of Jesus, being cared for and loved more than we could ever realize. This scripture is not about who is in or out this morning, it is about how great God’s love is that is shown to us through Jesus.

Jesus could be in the hands of the emperor, or in the hands of death. Yet, we are Easter people and death has been conquered once and for all. So as we long to be part of something greater, know that you already are there. We are not in the hands of those that are in authority, or those that think they can have dominion over us. For, we are in the hands of Jesus.

As we reflect that abundant love that is shown for us through Christ, who are we willing to truly hold on to and share that same love?

By Alex Steward

I am a husband, father, and pastor within the ELCA. I did not grow up in the church and thus come at this pastoring thing with an unique perspective.

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