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Archive for February, 2018

Below is the Sermon I preached on Sunday February 11th at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Kirkland, Wa.  This was the first time I’ve ever done this and it was an amazing experience.

My Sermon is based on the following Gospel reading from this mornings lectionary.

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one[a]on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings,[b] one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved;[c] listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Mark 9:2-9 New Revised Standard Version

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There were two things that stood out to me as I read through this mornings gospel.  Firstly, the idea that Peter, James, and John were TERRIFIED by the transfiguration of Jesus and secondly the words from on high saying ‘This is my son, the beloved, LISTEN TO HIM!’

As I read through the scripture this week, did my subsequent research, and pondered it’s meaning there was one thought that kept coming back to me … the idea of stepping out of our comfort zones.

Peter would have been most content to stay there on that mountain top with Jesus and his friends.  To build dwellings for Christ, Moses, and Elijah and stay put.  He would have loved to not have to come down from the mountain and do the DIFFICULT work that was to come next.   As much as he was frightened in that moment I believe he was more afraid of what was to come.  It was more comfortable there, doing what they had been doing, all this time with Jesus.

Comfort zones are great!  We like them, I love them.  We know what to expect and how to behave but nothing changes, nothing grows, nothing gets better.  Instead it often gets stagnant and stale.

Obviously, I will be the first to admit that the comfort zone is nice, but I also realize that I would not be the person I am today if I wasn’t shoved out of it, usually kicking and screaming, more than once in my life.

When I went to Covenant Players, when I take on new challenges, and leadership roles in every environment of my life, every time I’ve had to get up in front of a group of people to speak  – It’s been uncomfortable, but it’s also been this amazing time of growth, stretching me, as a person, as well as my faith.  This need to stretch, and grow is not just for people individually but communities as well, one’s personal growth can also help grow the communities around them and vise-versa.

Thinking back to three years ago, when I decided to go back to teaching, I promptly messaged my old boss to come in a talk with her.  I had planned to go back to what I knew, what was comfortable no stretching, no growth, no discomfort required.  I think about what I would have missed out on had I not listened to God as he pointed me in another direction.  I would not be at the amazing school I am, with a staff that supports and challenges me and each other every day.  I would not have met a little boy who desperately needed someone in his life to love him unconditionally and guide him, or at least would not have been able to steer his family towards our school and the environment he desperately needed; an environment I needed.   It was challenging, it still is, and it was hard, and it was hugely uncomfortable, but it was what was needed and what I was told to do.

Here I come to the second part of the scripture that stands out ‘LISTEN TO HIM’.  ‘This is my son, the beloved. Listen to him’. I get that this is hard.  I am a 2 x 4 to the head kinda person when it comes to hearing, and following what Jesus is telling me to do.  The idea, the instructions, will come and I will have to watch as everything slowly falls apart on my way in the opposite direction before the 2 x 4 hits me smack across the head and I go ‘OH, that’s what I am supposed to do’ or ‘Ok, I’ll listen’.  Usually the latter, as like Jonah I am usually running away.  I’m working hard to listen before the 2 x 4 or giant fish moments.

As I contemplated all this I kept thinking about St. John’s and all the change we’ve been through over the past few years and all the change that is coming.  Over the past few months we’ve had staff changes, we’ve had program changes, and so many other changes all of this takes us out of the comfort zone.  We are being lead into the new and the unknown which can be amazing but terrifying.

I think that we are being pushed out of our comfort zones to grow, and change, and be something new as a community of faith.  As we stretch to meet the changing needs of the community around us we have to do things in a new way, which can be exciting but new is often uncomfortable.

We are heading into a huge time of change as we look for a new rector.  This is a time of uncertainty.  This is a time to ‘Listen to Him’ and to do all that we can to hear what God is telling us.

As we head into Lent, a time of change, I challenge us to keep this scripture in mind.  Lent is a time of heading from comfort into uncertainty for the disciples and for us. I would challenge us all to look to what we are being called to do.  To ‘Listen to Him’ and step out of our comfort zones, where we will be stretched, and we will find growth.

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