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Knoxville, TN, United States
Interim Pastor of Evergreen Presbyterian Church (USA), Dothan, AL.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

2010-04-18 Jn 20 19-31 Wishes

John 20:19-31


James McTyre

Lake Hills Presbyterian Church

April 18, 2010

(As a word of explanation, I started writing this sermon way back in 2002. I say “started writing,” because I'm still working on it. Back in 2002, Emily was turning three, and Anna was just about to be born. It was a magical, lyrical time of life and some of that showed up in the sermon.)

More than any other sign of springtime, I know that the season of spring has finally arrived with the blooming of the most lovely flower of them all: the dandelion.

I was sitting at our kitchen table, staring at a patch of dandelions, and was stirred to poetry.

I call this, “Ode to a Dandelion.”


O dandelion!

Why dost men despise thee so?

Is it because thou art stronger

than any seed beneath the snow?


Men defile thy flowing bed

with Roundup and with blade.

They curse and pluck thy pedals bright

which God alone hath made.


Cousin of the sunflower,

friend of bumblebee,

bouquet of children sneezing loud,

Why dost we so hate thee?


O dandelion

growing proud and tall,

weed shall be thy name.

Away! from rose and daffodil,

no turf you shall defame.


Perhaps one day men's minds shall change,

and accept the truth so hard,

no matter how we dig or spray

thou shalt rule the yard.


Yes, the beauty of springtime makes me wax poetic.

Poetry is so much easier than lawn maintenance, and just about as productive.

Our little daughter Emily thinks dandelions are just beautiful.

She picks handfulls of them for her mommy.

Last summer, when the yellow pedals had turned to white spores, Kristen taught her to pluck the dandelion and make a wish, and then blow -- so much fun.

I tried to encourage them to blow toward the neighbors' yards, especially toward the one who's spent so much money on landscaping.

Emily calls them, "Wishes."

And because she's too young to know any better, she loves Wishes, yellow and white alike.

(I don't know any kids who don't like dandelions. What happens on the way to adulthood?)


Jesus said to his disciples, "Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you."

When he had said this, Scripture says, he breathed on them.

With the breath of his mouth, he blessed these men that most would have called no more than weeds.

With a breath, he sent them out, carried by the wind, to grow where they landed.

He made them his Wish.

He gave them his Spirit.

And those who would be God's children embraced them, and gave them ground where they could grow and spread their word.


Yes, we see God's beauty in the dogwood, in the azalea and in the tulip.

We see the work of our hands and the ache of our backs in a thick, green lawn.

But the dandelion, like the blessed disciples, is a reminder that despite all our efforts to the contrary, the wild and persistent will of God is going to grow.


I think Thomas must have been a gardener.

Thomas was careful.

Thomas was thoughtful.

Thomas was skeptical, like so many of us.

Thomas laid out his flower patches in a precise order, keeping his rows straight, and his beds pure.

He had learned not to be disappointed when a late frost threated the delicate buds.

He knew not to get his hopes too high, too soon.

The ways of the world, the changes of earthly season had taught him well.

So while his heart wasn't hard, it was worn.

His spirit had grown tough out of necessity.

So when the other disciples told them that a fresh spring breeze had blown through their shut rooms, he doubted.

When they said that the sprit of the living God had changed their minds, Thomas stood rooted and practical.

"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails, and my hand in his side, I will not believe."

So often we imagine him speaking boldly and defiantly, like an unbeliever who resists our best efforts at evangelism.

But he may have also spoken with quiet wisdom, gained from the school of hard knocks and calloused hands.

Less doubting than defending himself from impossible hope that would not bloom.


God's blessing is as gentle as a warm, spring breeze.

As impossible as flowers that by all rights should never have made it through a hard winter.

Here and gone, known and yet unseen --

God leaves us the Wish.

Perhaps we will see it as an annoyance, a weed to be plucked and thrown away.

Perhaps God's wish will be caught and will grow in our gardens.


God doesn't call oaks, or redwoods, or maples.

God calls people who might be regarded as weeds.

Uncultured, untended -- the spirit blows as it will, taking us this way and that,

into rooms and emotions and thoughts that the rest of the world might count as a waste of time and space.


When Jesus breathed his wish upon his disciples, he said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.

If you you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them;

if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

If you count people or yourself as weeds, they are.

If you see them flower, if you make chains of them, and chase and dance with them as little children do who don't know any better, then that is what you shall do.


God has a wish for you this day.

May you feel it.

May you believe it.

"Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have come to believe."

Blessed are we who live as Wishes of God, who grow, and who breathe.