Christ Church Cathedral Grafton
10 February 2019
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Sometimes the readings that are served up by the lectionary are a bit sparse when it comes to offering stimulus material for a sermon. But this week we have a feast of classic texts, each of which could trigger one or more sermons.
Don’t worry. I am only going to give one short sermon today!
As you know, we are still in the season of Epiphany; that time in between Christmas and Lent. This is a time when we are invited to reflect on ways in which we have gained some kind of insight into the ways of God with our soul or with our world.
Those epiphany moments when faith just makes sense, precious moments indeed.
They may not answer our questions, but they kind of make the questions less important as we embrace a larger kind of truth.
Indeed, as we shall see this morning, sometimes those insights turn our lives upside down!
There was an epiphany moment in each of the three readings this morning, and more than one in a couple of the readings.
Isaiah 6—a high official in the royal court of Jerusalem is attending yet another religious ceremony in the Temple, but this time it was a conversion experience! He was about to be drawn into a whole new ministry as a prophet, and he would leave a legacy whose impact is still felt today. He had been to the Temple numerous times, but this time it was different.
1 Corinthians 15—Paul is reciting a list of resurrection appearances by the risen Jesus when he describes his own calling to be an apostle. As Paul says, he was an enemy of the Jesus movement and actively persecuting anyone suspected of being a Christian. He was not likely to become the most important interpreter of Jesus ever. Yet God turned his life around and we still pay attention to Paul when we try to understand how to practice our faith.
Luke 5—it was just another regular fishing day for Peter and his business partners. No catch at all last night despite the hours spent out on the lake. A little distance away he could see Jesus from Nazareth talking to crowds of people on the lake shore about the kingdom of God, but Peter was not even listening. He had nets to clean and mend before they went out again that night in search of fish. Then Jesus comes and asks Peter to take him a short distance offshore in his fishing boat so he could keep on talking to the crowds without being pushed into the lake! Afterwards, this cocky carpenter even told him where to find fish. What would he know? Worse still, he was right! They caught the biggest load of fish Peter had ever seen. Almost sunk his boat and his partner’s boat under the weight of all those fish. As Jesus said, it was time to leave the fishing trade and go learn how to fish for people!
Those are not just weird stories from 2000 years ago or more.
That stuff still happens.
Tomorrow we mark 40 years since I was ordained as a priest, but that was not the career I had in mind as I came to the end of Year Twelve. I was heading for the military. The forms for Duntroon were already completed and waiting to be posted. But someone who knew nothing of my plans was used by God to turn my life pathway upside down and inside out. The forms for Duntroon never got posted.
If we had time to go around the church this morning and if people felt safe enough to share their personal life stories, I suspect we would find many other stories of lives turned around or even upside down by this audacious God who calls; the God who disturbs and overthrows our best-made plans.
We really should have a sign at the west doors of this Cathedral warning people not to come inside:
ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK.
YOU MAY DISCOVER THAT
GOD HAS A PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE
IF YOU ENTER THIS SACRED PLACE
WITH AN OPEN HEART
OR EVEN ONE THAT IS CLOSED
Even the kids who are causing trouble again as they steal candles and mess up the sound system cables may find that God is messing with their lives while they think they are being so tough and so smart. Perhaps they should ask Paul? He was one tough dude until God got at him.
Actually, the sign would be of no use—except maybe to stimulate discussion, and that might be a good thing.
Even staying away from the Cathedral will not stop God from touching your heart and calling you into service.
Even those hundreds of Grafton Anglicans who demonstrate their solid Anglican identity by avoiding worship except for Baptisms and funerals may find that God has plans for them as well. As indeed she does.
Wherever we are and whatever our current disposition, God has a purpose for our lives and God will persist in calling us to embrace that calling for our sake and for the sake of others.
Our job as a Cathedral community is to be a safe and supportive place for people to explore what God’s call on their life looks like and to support them as they start the journey God is calling them to make.
If we can be that kind of faith community others will be blessed and the world will be transformed.