Preaching for Tips

The morning was beautiful with the midst slowly clearing the water.  The sea was calm.  Our excitement was noisy, exuberant, and expectant; somehow all three elements mingled in the joy of our gathering. We had left our embarkation point in two boats and tied together in the middle of the sea.  Our destination point lay to the north before us.  It was a little town called Capernaum.  Off our starboard side (the right side for you land lubbers), the Golan Heights rose in the distance.  Gazing out at the view and blocking out modernity, I could easily imagine myself sailing with Peter and the gang.  There on the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberius) we held a morning worship service. As we sang it was a holy moment for me.  On an intensely personal level it was as if the Holy Spirit wafted on the wind over the boats.  I preached on one of the great Sea of Galilee stories of Jesus calming the storm.  While I spoke, Rev. Brad Slaten took the picture you see with me standing next to the sign “Tip”.  Someone later told me told me later, “Bishop, I thought you were preaching for tips.” Apparently the Bishop is preaching for tips. ?In the joy of the day the humor of it all struck me, but now on later reflection the time and the picture intermingle and bid me reflect on a deeper, holy story.  Consider, as I write this it is the Friday before the start of Holy Week, the Palm Sunday procession. This evening begins the Jewish Sabbath that leads to the Sunday procession.   I love Palm Sunday.  I love Easter morning – especially the Sunrise Service.  It is tempting, oh so very tempting! to skip like a flat rock thrown across the lake from the celebratory expectation of Palm Sunday to the triumphant joy of Easter morning.  Yet to do so is like preaching for tips instead of embracing the vastly greater spiritual depths of Christ’s sacrifice and the fullness of the journey to the cross and beyond.  Palm Sunday’s meaning comes from the cross.  This is where Christ fully dismounts.  Easter gains its resurrecting power only when we have knelt at the cross.  I am convinced that this is what the Apostle Paul was reaching for when he wrote to the Corinthians, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed. But it is the power of God for those of us who are being saved.  . . We preach Christ crucified, which is a scandal to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.  But to those who are called—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom” (I Corinthians 1:18, 23-24). Recently I visited a friend in the hospital.  As he lay on his back recovering from his treatment, he spoke of his hope to be out of the hospital and in his church on Easter.  He commented, “Oh, I really need Easter this year!”  So do I.  So, I think, do we all.  Facing Holy Week the question before us is, Will we settle for “tips” on better living, or walk to the cross and through the cross beyond the joy of the Son’s rising?