Preaching Resources

The Fifth Sunday of Easter (May 2, 2021)

Assigned Texts for the Day: 

  • Acts 8:26-40
  • I John 4:7-21
  • John 15:1-8

In 2008, Dr. Eben Alexander, one of the top neurosurgeons in the US, contracted a rare form of bacterial meningitis that shut down the neocortex of his brain.  The neocortex is the seat of human consciousness; it is the part of the brain that most expresses our personality and our energy to the world around us. When the neocortex shuts down, we shut down.   In Dr. Alexander’s case, his physical body was in a coma for seven days while his soul made the journey to heaven.  In his book, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, he describes what happened to his physical body during this time, as only a neurosurgeon could do, and he explains what he experienced with his soul as he was in heaven.  In the book, he describes that the soul that gives our bodies life and personality remains connected with the sacred throughout our lives but that our earthly bodies are not well equipped enough to sense that connection. Dr. Alexander does go on to say that every now and then, we do have flashes of that sacred connection in this life, if we would only pay attention to it.   Every now and then, we have an experience that is holy, and in that moment, we profoundly feel God’s touch.

For me, music is one of those ways to connect with God. Just think of the power of music to transport you back to an earlier time and place in your life.  You hear a song from your childhood – and all of a sudden, you are there. Whenever I hear Don McLain’s “Bye-Bye Miss American Pie,” I am immediately transported back to Griffith Jr. High School, and I can still feel the adolescent angst and excitement that I felt during those years. That song was often played at Jr. High School dances when those young, adolescent hormones were at their greatest.

As human beings, we need something to bridge the gap between God and  – music does this for me.   This connection comes from signing traditional hymns, Taizé chants, or even contemporary songs on my guitar at church camp.   

Think for a moment about how you most connect with God.  Perhaps it is at worship, a quiet time of prayer, taking a walk in the woods, or watching children at play.  This process is unique to each person. 

In our Gospel lesson for this morning, Jesus describes himself as a vine and that we are the branches.  The branches abide in the vine and receive from the vine nourishment and life.  I believe that the number-one mission of our lives here is to find those ways that we can abide in Christ and allow Christ to abide in us.  For me, it is the only way that I survive the difficulties and complexities of life.  For instance, at the funerals for my sister, and my father, it was the music that most brought peace to my aching soul.  It was through music that I felt God close at hand as I walked in my grief. 

Our number one mission in life is to abide in Christ.  Once that is in place, everything else will find its proper place, including hearing God’s call to serve others more clearly.