6 Easter – May 5, 2013 – Journeys of Hope
We are a lot alike our friends in the animal kingdom who forage for food and seek shelter. We humans are constantly on the move. From the time we are born until the day we die we keep planning ahead trying to figure which way to go, how to find the pleasant roads and avoid the perilous ones. Some trips are rewarding and relaxing while others are dangerous and risky.
Two weeks ago I attended a play called La Ruta. It was about migrants from Mexico crossing the border into the United States. Our small audience was herded into a dark, long, narrow trailer. The play gave us a momentary glimpse of the anxieties of immigrants. With them we feared and reviled the mean-spiritedness of the coyote (someone who traffics people) and the indifference of the driver who called all of us “cargo.” We experienced the humiliation of border crossers who according to drama critic, Daniel Gold, were “frantic enough to risk everything for a better life.” 
Last week a PBS program on immigration, The Undocumented, reminded us that thousands do not finish the journey. It reported the stories of families of border crossers. With the help of volunteers they search for the remains of loved ones who died following their dreams of living in a promised land, like our ancestors did.
Since Easter Sunday this year we have been listening to biblical texts about the journeys of people in the formative years of the church. Paul, Barnabas and others traveled far and wide to evangelize people. These scriptures are records of endurance and dreams, of debates and compromises, of trust in God and one another.
For example, in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, a companion to the Gospel of Luke, we heard about the controversy over whether or not non-Jewish converts to Christianity had to be circumcised. The conference ended in a compromise. The Gentiles did not have to be circumcised like the Jews but they were obliged to observe a number of laws. 
How has the word of God and our liturgical celebrations this Easter season helped us chart a new course in our lives? How have they assisted us in walking with each other, dealing with issues that confront us? La Ruta, the drama about the dangerous journeys of immigrants, changed my understanding of migrant workers. I am an interested reader about immigration. Now I am searching for ways to become more proactive.
I was also struck by the faith of the families of deceased border crossers depicted in that PBS documentary. They seemed to hold on to a trust in God even as they buried the bodies of their relatives. Perhaps this morning’s Psalm 67 was on their lips, “May your way be known upon earth, so all nations may know salvation.” Still, a pall of fear and uncertainty defines the lives of so many people on this planet. Those who participate in today’s Albany CROP Hunger Walk are doing their part to feed countless families around the world.
In the gospel of John today, Jesus is saying goodbye to friends and followers. It must have been a sad time. After all he was their sage, their mentor. Gurus in many religions are traditionally thought of as manifestations of God. Jesus promises the frightened, despairing disciples that a new spirit will energize them, pick them up, send them forward.
He was urging them to claim their own inner authority — a holy spirit. Often we are so busy figuring out our physical and mental journeys we give less thought to the development of our spiritual ones. They just might be the tickets we need to give us a new sense of direction in whatever we do.
As we move through this Easter season, challenged by God’s word, we search for ways to trust in God and one another. Like the immigrants of today, the early Christians persevered in their belief that the road they were on, although not always clear or straight, was indeed the way to freedom and justice. Let us keep that path open for all of God’s creatures — ourselves and others we do not know.
1 Gold, Daniel M. “Smuggling A Captive Audience Across a Border” in The New York Times (April 27, 2013) C7
2 Fuller, Reginald. Preaching the Lectionary: The Word of God for the Church Today. (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press) 1984 Second Edition. 434-435