Glory to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to God from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.

Jesus said, ‘I came that you may have life and have it abundantly.’  This morning, I invite you to reflect on how that life Jesus spoke of—that abundant life—is being made manifest in you. How do you see the resurrected Christ moving, breathing, living among you?

Last Sunday, our dean, Randy Hollerith, preached an incredibly moving and thoughtful sermon about a time in his ministry when he experienced the resurrected Christ in a profound and unexpected way. If you didn’t hear that sermon, or even if you did, I commend it to you. Go back and listen. He talked about his ministry at St. James Church in Richmond, before he came to the Cathedral, and how one of their members, Charlotte, who was a homeless, paranoid schizophrenic, found her home at St. James. She spent her time on the front steps of the church and on the streets. When she died, the community—her family—gathered and shared stories about the impact that she had had on their lives. In those stories and in their telling, they experienced the resurrected Christ right in their midst.

This morning, two of my Cathedral clergy colleagues, Dana Corsello and Patrick Keyser, are taking a group from our congregation to El Paso, Texas, where for a week or so they will be joining in hands-on ministry with those ministering to migrants at the border. I know that their journey will, in many ways be heartbreaking, but I fully anticipate that serving with those who minister day in day out to people seeking, maybe not the abundant life, but at least a safe life, will help them to see and experience the resurrected Christ.

In the Acts of the Apostles, we hear the story of the early birth of the church. The passage read this morning speaks of the four grounding principles of the early church, beginning with the apostles’ teaching—teaching what Jesus taught—that the most important thing we can do is love God with all that we are and all that we have and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Next is Fellowship: Jesus brought disparate groups of people together around table fellowship and they were transformed in the process. In the breaking of the bread, Jesus told the disciples that when they gathered, they were to “Do this in remembrance of me” to remind us of Jesus’ abiding presence in their lives and in ours. The fourth grounding principle is prayer—to be deeply rooted together as community in prayer.

Remember, all of this happened after the disciples and the followers were given the gift of the Holy Spirit. That changed everything! They had been huddled behind closed doors waiting for what Jesus promised, not knowing what in the world that was going to be. The gift empowered what were a few to become what we know is the church. If the disciples had stayed in the safety of that upper room, we wouldn’t be here. The Holy Spirit blew. Now, I’m looking at a lot of fellow preachers in front of me. I suspect none of us are self-delusional enough to think that if we preached a sermon like Peter’s, we would have 3000 immediate converts. But I digress. . .  That Spirit is alive and well.

We’re in the Easter season. How do you perceive the Holy Spirit doing a new thing? And how are you responding to it? I can tell you that at the Cathedral, we have been so incredibly blessed in the most unexpected way. Shortly before Covid closed down churches all across the country and around the world, we had just raised the money and installed the new video system, which you are enjoying today. It gave us the capability to stream services in a way that gathered community in. What we didn’t anticipate was how that online community would explode, thanks to the Holy Spirit. That very first Easter Sunday, over 55,000 people watched the video stream live. My colleagues who count such things say that eventually over 1 million people saw that service.

I share this because we soon realized that the mission field was so much bigger and broader than we had ever asked or imagined. So, we leaned in. We tried to learn. Many of you who are worshiping with us online right now taught us the way, and we’re continuing to lean into that. During the last three years, over 15 million people have joined us online. What that tells me is that people are still hungry and yearning for the Good News of the resurrected Christ in this hurting and broken world. That’s our mission field. That’s our opportunity. You don’t need me to tell you that our world is broken, terribly broken. When so many people see the answer to their fear, their grievances, their grudges, their anger, their hate, their internal demons, as an assault rifle, the message of Christ—of love—is more urgently needed than ever before.

Jesus taught us the way and showed us what loving God with all that we are and all that we have and loving our neighbor as ourselves, looked like. In his day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” As our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is fond of saying, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God.”

I think every few generations, God gives us new tools to share this Good News, this love, anew. In the Acts of the Apostles, Paul hopped on a ship to travel around the entire Roman empire to share the Good News of Christ. In the 1400s, we had the Gutenberg Bible. In the 1700s, circuit riders hopped on horses to share the Good News. In the early 1900s, we witnessed the advent of the radio and then TV to share this Good News with the world. My friends, who would have believed it? Now we have the Internet to share this love of Christ in a way that we might never have imagined.

The Cathedral is making another investment in leaning in. Thanks to the generosity and vision of a member of our community, we’ve been given a gift that’s going to enable us to hire our first ever Pastor for Digital Ministry, a new shepherd in our flock for all of you worshiping online. We intend to share everything we learn along the way with the church writ large. Our colleagues tell us how they are also experiencing this explosion and this opportunity that the Internet provides us. Let us embrace it.

You never know the difference that you can make. I was reminded of this a month ago when I read an article about a young boy named Kayzen Hunter, who, in Little Rock, Arkansas, with his family, would go to the local Waffle House every weekend for breakfast. It was a family treat and over the course of the year, he had befriended one of the waiters, Devonte Gardner. Kayzen loved to go. Devonte always gave him a high-five, knew his name, knew his order: hash browns with cheese, eggs with cheese.

The family always asked to sit in Devonte’s section of the restaurant. One day, Kayzen went to the Waffle House with his grandfather, and he overheard Devonte asking if anyone knew how he could get a cheap car because he’d been having trouble saving the money to get one. Then Kayzen learned that Devonte walked a few miles each day to get to and from work. For the last eight months, he, his wife and his two small daughters had been living in a motel. They were living in a motel because the apartment that they’d been in was overtaken by black mold and an infestation of rats. Devonte had to spend almost all of the $60 in tips he got every day to pay for the hotel room. Despite his working hard, he just couldn’t get ahead.

Kayzen decided that one person actually can make a difference. His heart was broken for his friend whom he loves. So, when he got home, he asked his mother to help him set up a GoFundMe page. They set up a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $5,000 so Devonte could get a cheap car—just to help a little bit. Word spread in that Waffle House community and beyond into the Little Rock community. That GoFundMe page raised over $30,000.

That $30,000 enabled Devonte and his family not only to buy a car, but to secure an apartment with one year’s paid rent. Kayzen said this: “Devonte is a positive person who works hard to make everyone happy. Sometimes people just need a little help.” Kayzen has it right. Sometimes people just need a little help and maybe a little hope along the way, as well.

In this Easter season, my prayer for you and for me is that God will resurrect the child in us that’s crazy enough to believe that one person can make a difference. Let it be so for you and for me. Amen.


The Rev. Canon Jan Naylor Cope