Fr. Bill Carroll – The Second Sunday of Easter, April 11, 2021

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

About thirty years ago, a man named Greg Brown recorded what I can only describe as a Gospel song for an unbelieving age.  In it, he manages to be haunted by the figure of Jesus and the redemption he brings us.  And yet, at the very same time, he remains unsure about Jesus and the changed life he demands.  Now, the lyrics are rated PG-13.  I’m going to quote them in a minute.

I first came across the song on a Dar Williams album.  And though, as far as I know he never recorded it, I always hear it in my mind in the voice of Johnny Cash.  It goes like this.

Oh Lord, I have made you a place in my heart

among the rags and the bones and the dirt.

There’s piles of lies, the love gone from her eyes,

and old moving boxes full of hurt.

Pull up a chair by the trouble and care.

I got whiskey, you’re welcome to some.

Oh Lord, I have made you a place in my heart,

but I don’t reckon you’re gonna come.


I’ve tried to fix up the place, I know it’s a disgrace,

you get used to it after a while –

with the flood and the drought and old pals hanging out

with their IOU’s and their smiles.

bare naked women keep coming in

and they dance like you would not believe.

Oh Lord, I have made you a place in my heart,

so take a good look – and then leave.


Oh Lord, why does the Fall get colder each year?

Lord, why can’t I learn to love?

Lord, if you made me, it’s easy to see

that y’all make mistakes up above.

But if I open the door, you’ll know that I’m poor

and my secrets are all that I own.

Oh Lord, I have made you a place in my heart

and I hope that you leave it alone.

What a troubled soul it takes to sing a song like that.  But the author is not that different from you and me.  Often, we feel used up, broken, and confused.  Even if our lowest places are a bit higher up than his, most of us can relate to his powerful feelings of futility and despair.  If Jesus saw us like we really are, we suspect, he’d take a good look and then leave.

And yet, the last verse of the song points to a doubt that Jesus will let us off that easy.  Jesus is the hound of heaven, who will never, ever, ever let us go.  We may hope that the Lord will leave us alone, but we’re pretty sure he won’t.  In the song. seemingly, Brown is afraid that the Lord will not abandon him.  Because, like us, he’s in love with things that are killing him.  Brown doesn’t really want to change his life.  And, truth be told, sometimes neither do we.

Something similar is at stake in today’s Gospel.  Despite the reports of the Empty Tomb and the witness of the women who have seen Jesus alive, the other disciples have locked themselves away for fear.  They are huddled together in the Upper Room, afraid they’ll meet the same fate as Jesus.  Moreover, many of them are ashamed, since they ran away when Jesus needed them the most.  So, there they sit with the doors locked, deep in the grip of their fears.

But suddenly, Jesus shows up.  He appears among them alive.  “Peace be with you,” he says, and their fear turns to great joy.  

It’s no wonder this Gospel is often appointed for Pentecost.  Just as God breathed the breath of life into Adam, so too Jesus breathes his Spirit into us.  Jesus gives us his own Spirit—to make all things new.

And, in the power of that Spirit, he sends us out on a mission. He sends us out to change the world. “As Father has sent me,” he says, “so I send you.”  Jesus gives us a share in his work of love, sending us out to forgive the sins of others—to give them hope, wherever they happen to be. Even when they are at the end of their rope. Jesus sends us with a message of love.  He sends us out into the places where we live—into the places where people’s hearts are broken, places where people are struggling just to live another day.  He sends us to everyone.

And he shows us that the walls we build to keep him out—all the ways we try to control God and set limits on what he can do—none of those things do anything to stop the presence of Jesus or his love.  He is free to show up and save us, no matter where we try to run or hide.  

He is free to come to us, if need be, through locked doors.  At any time, he can show up and call us from the ways of sin and death—to share in his mission of love.  It isn’t safe.  It isn’t easy. And he knows it.  He knows it better than we do.  But it is the way of true and lasting freedom.  It can be risky and scary.  But at least two things are true.

First, Jesus loves our wounds.  Because they make us more like him.  

And, second, he loves US too much (he loves all of us too much) to ever leave us alone.