Sunday, October 18, 2015

Pentecost 21: Purified and unafraid to live

Lectionary: Job 38:1-7, 34-41; Psalm 104:1-9, 25, 37b; Hebrews 5:1-10; Mark 10:35-45
Preacher: The Rev Dr. Valori Mulvey Sherer, Rector

En el nombre del Dios: Padre, Hijo, y Espiritu Santo. Amen.

The following are simply sermon notes. As such they are not the full text. Please listen to the audio file. Peace! V+

Clergy conference – Rev Dr Elaine Heath, author and founder of the Missional Wisdom Foundation. (Hold up her book: “Missional. Monastic. Mainline: A Guide to Starting Missional Micro-Communities in Historically Mainline Traditions.” Also mention her book: “The Mystic Way of Evangelism: A Contemplative Vision for Christian Outreach.”)

Life cycle of the church: decline leads to anxiety – and soon desperation. The system becomes focused on attracting – more people, more money, more programs to bring more people, more money… so the church doesn’t die.

Elaine talked about the need for movement from an “attractional” church to a “missional church” with the building and local church community being an anchor, a place of foundation, feeding, empowering – for mission OUT THERE in the world.

She used the metaphor of a tornado (sucks everything into itself) vs hurricane (spins out from the center).

This brings to mind our Post-communion prayer, BCP, 365, 366. Also Nicene Creed.

Elaine: “If we’re going to be apostolic – a people sent out – we can’t be trapped in a building – in an old paradigm.” The movement from an attractional to a missional church takes a pioneer, whom Elaine describes as someone who sees hope in the dying system.

Be aware, however, that the system will resist the pioneer and, as it moves from anxiety to desperation, will attempt to “crush” the pioneer and destroy them.

Thankfully, our hope is in Jesus, the icon of the unseen God, who created us, loves us, sustains us, and redeems us – always. Amen.

Elaine asked two questions of us:

1) What if all of us were free to fail our way forward?
2) What would we do if we weren’t so weighted down with institutional anxiety?

I would add this question: what if we trusted the love of Jesus enough to die?

Hebrews: Jesus learned obedience (hear the will of God and act) through what he suffered. He showed us the way to understand suffering: EVERYTHING IS GIFT – even suffering, if we trust in the redeeming love of God in Christ.

1996: Read recurring dream/vision (from 1996 prayer journal): purification through death for new life

Gospel: Context ahead of this story…

Chap 9: Jesus caught the apostles arguing over greatness, which embarrassed them. They didn’t know he had overheard them. Jesus’ response: be like this child.

Chap 10: Just before this story: Jesus has foretold of his passion for the 3rd time.

Immediately after that, James and John ask Jesus to give them whatever they want. Jesus asks them what that is, and they ask to sit at his right and left hand –the two places traditionally associated with power and glory.

Jesus replies: “You don’t know what you’re asking. Are you able to drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized?

James and John answer: We are able. Most commentaries talk about the blindness of these two disciples, assuming they’re speaking/acting from the old paradigm.

But I wonder if they did get it. Having just heard Jesus talk about his suffering and death, maybe J and J understood exactly what they were asking and asked it anyway. Maybe these two loved Jesus enough to trust and obey him, desiring to become servant of all, and following Jesus to the death he had just described.

Maybe these two were the pioneers who saw beyond the old paradigm to the hope embodied in Jesus, their savior.

The other disciples got angry at them. Maybe they’re the ones hearing this conversation from the old paradigm. Then their anger makes sense… there go the sons of Zebedee seeking their own glory again.

But that dismisses the possibility that transformation may have happened in them, and could happen in us.

What if we understood our suffering and death as we understand Jesus’ – as the way to the truth, and to life.

God has chosen us to bear the light of Christ into the darkness of our world. What if we trusted in God’s love for us, in God’s choice of us?

What if we let go the old life we have cherished and open ourselves - with gratitude and expectation - to the new life awaiting us?

We don’t need a strategic plan. We need only believe.

In his reflection last week, +Porter, our bishop, said this: “Therefore, our faith is not in ourselves to figure out a new management chart but to be faithful to God who is always leading us out of mess and hardship and pain to the land of promise. The key to that faithfulness is our reliance on God and not ourselves; this allows us to relax because we are not in charge. ‘Play, love and fail your way forward.’” (quoting Elaine Heath)

I commend his entire reflection to you. It’s on the diocesan website.

We are being purified and it feels chaotic, painful at times, and scary all the time. But we are God’s chosen ones and God is always faithful.

If we keep our eyes prayerfully focused on Jesus whose arms eternally reach out for us, we will be overwhelmed by his love and we will become unafraid to die knowing that this death we enter willingly is the gateway to the new life, the resurrection life, awaiting us.


No comments: