Summary: A sermon for the 6th Sunday of Easter, Series B

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6th Sunday of Easter, May 16, 2009 “Series B”

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, through your gift of grace, revealed to us in the life, death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus the Christ, you have redeemed us from sin and death, and have made us children of your eternal kingdom. Through our baptism, you have promised to love us and accept us as your own, without condition. Still, we are confronted with you commandments, your will for our lives. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, help us to be obedient disciples of our crucified and risen Lord, and live our lives according to command to love one another. This we ask in his holy name. Amen.

I remember reading a commentary that transported me back in time to when I was just beginning my high school education. Of course, I, like many of the students in my class, found entering the “Big School” as we called it, a little anxiety producing. And there was little to ease that anxiety for those of us who encountered Ms. Blouse for English class. She had to be ten years past retirement age, carried a long pointing stick that she would slap on your desk with a bang when she wanted you to answer her question. My classmates and I determined that she had to have graduated from Satan University.

I will also admit that I considered a high school course in English to be a waist of time, since we all spoke the language, and understood each other perfectly. But being able to speak and communicate with each other was not enough for this lady. She taught the class as if we were studying biology. She had us dissecting sentences as if they were a frog on the table in the science lab. It wasn’t enough for her to have us realize that you need a noun and a verb to make a complete sentence. It wasn’t enough for her to have us know the difference between an adverb and an adjective. No, we had to learn the difference between the indicative and the imperative, and understand syntax.

Well, after struggling through that course from Hades High School with a passing grade I wasn’t proud of, I hoped that I would never have to deal with that nonsense again. And my hope almost came true. I didn’t have to think about that grammar stuff throughout the rest of my high school classes, or in college. And by that time, I had forgotten about all about that class, and everything Ms. Blouse tried to teach us.

And then came seminary, and with it, courses that made me wish that I had paid more attention in that course in English I had to take in my freshman year of high school. In particular, were two courses with a title that I didn’t even know what it meant – Hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is a fancy word that means, quite simply, the art of interpreting Scripture. And for this course, syntax, and the ability to understand the difference between the imperative and the indicative of sentence structure was a must.

Well, from my courses in hermeneutics, I learned that in Scripture and theology, the imperative to action grows out of the indicative. Now, for those of you who have enjoyed those courses in grammar as much as I have, let me put it this way, by repeating another illustration. Before almost every first in my life, like getting the car for the first time, or going on my first date, my father would say to me “Ron, remember who you are. You are a Harbaugh, and what you do reflects upon all of us in this family that bears that name. Behave yourself.”

At the time, all I remember hearing from my Dad was Ron, behave yourself. Like most teens, what I heard from my Dad was just another commandment to infringe on my freedom and fun. I had to be on my best behavior, or he wouldn’t be happy with me. But the way that I had interpreted what my Dad said to me, was to ignore the indicative.

The truth is, I only heard half of my Dad’s statement. My Dad began his comment with the indicative, to remember who I was. He was asking me to remember that I was loved and a member of a family that loved me, and cared about me. And yes, as a member of this family, he was asking me to remember that there are certain values, certain principles around which we are united and bound to each other. That was what my Dad was first asking me to do, to remember that I was a part of a family that loved me.

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