This Odd and Wondrous Calling

Second Sunday After Pentecost Year A 2022
Last Sunday at St. John’s- Abi Moon

1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a
Psalm 43
Luke 8:26-39

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving­-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Together met, together bound

       by all that God has done,

we’ll go with joy, to give the world

       the love that makes us one.

We live in a world of invitation.

Think about it.

Every commercial out there is inviting you to have the newest car, the best food, watch the hottest new show on television, see the new movie or buy the best deal.

Each moment we have, we are invited into a choice.

A choice to dig deeper or to escape.

A choice to delight or be disgusted

A choice to savor and to seek

A choice to destroy or build up.

In both our Old Testament readings and in our gospel reading today we hear of those who were on the edges. Elijah running from political adversaries who were after his life and the man possessed by a legion of demons. Both seeking solace, both knowing God’s presence. Both seeking a different way of life.

Both Elijah and the demoniac chose to be fully present and receive.

Both are given protection and new life.

Elijah in the still small voice

The demoniac man with freedom from possession.

A choice to listen, a choice to follow, a choice to receive.

There is a book by Martin Copenhaver and Lilian Daniels called “The Odd and Wonderous Calling” a book I received even before I arrived here in July of 2011… which spoke to the windstorms and the earthquakes of ministry, the moments where only possession could be the explanation for goings on and the still small voice of God that whispers the Holy Spirits’ longing and desire for all to be reconciled, all to be healed, all to be restored and how we are called into working together in the most wonderous and odd ways.

This past few weeks has been challenging. My heart aches for those who are wounded and have lost their lives in the senseless tragedies in our world. The storms of brokenness. In those storms we gather, we gather to seek solace and strength to be built up in order to build others up and to transform and heal the brokenness of this world.

In the past 11 years I have been graced to walk with you and gather with you and see the Holy Spirit at work in our midst. It has been humbling and awe-filled. You each have reminded me of what God looks like walking about here on earth.

And it has been in these holy sacramental moments that we have all been witnesses of God’s presence in our lives together.

We gather around this table each week, kneeling to receive. It’s a choice and one that we take willingly, joyfully, acknowledging that we come in need of God’s grace and God’s love.

We have gathered at baptisms, rejoicing as our newest members receive for the first time. Celebrating their joy.

We have gathered at weddings as a couple receives their first meal as a married couple. Supporting them in prayer and thanksgiving.

We have gathered around at ordinations- mine, Deacon Joe’s, Reverend Kathy’s celebrating calls in individuals’ lives. Walking with them in those vows.

Next week you will gather for confirmations— confirming with others their milestone on their faith journey. Welcoming those who are taking this step.

And, of course, we have gathered at funerals, celebrating the conclusion of loved ones’ lives on this earth. Giving thanks for the legacy of love given to each of us.

In each of these moments we have chosen to (as Psalm 43 states it)

go to the altar of God,
to the God of my joy and gladness; *
and on the harp I will give thanks to you, O God my God.

5 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? *
and why are you so disquieted within me?

6 Put your trust in God; *
for I will yet give thanks to him,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

We gather to accept this odd and wonderful calling of being a disciple, a follower, of a God who loves so deeply that God invites us to lean in and be found, be known, be loved.

Some days we may feel like Elijah, exhausted by those who disagree, persecuted for speaking truth and we might want to run far from the center of things.

Some days we may be like the demoniac suffering for our entire lives and finally running towards Jesus, asking/pleading for healing, for restoration and receive it immediately.

Wherever we are on this spiritual journey- God meets us right there.

And so we continue to answer this call.

Rob and I are going on to a new space.

Lonnie and the Lacy family coming to be here as your rector.

And all will be well.

AS Father Bill said last week, Change is something that is certain. The corollary to this statement is that God’s love is even more sure and certain and you, at St. John’s, knows this full and well.

The gifted leadership of your vestry and YOU serving on commissions is a beautiful example of how the church truly should be.

Being the church is coming together, accepting the invitation to be the hands and feet of Christ in each and every moment, during tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes.

You, too, have the invitation each day, to receive God’s love, to be fed by the bread, and to in turn “Go out into the world to love and serve the Lord.”

On our pilgrimage to England several years ago, our group of pilgrims found themselves in a church and as we awaited our tour guide to begin our guided tour, we began to look under our feet. There we found the names of the saints who were a part of the cathedral community, literally paving the way for the generations to come.

Each name beloved and etched in stone. One epitath stood out to us and we stared at it a bit. On the stone marking a former bishop’s burial space his name was stated, his dates given and then underneath the simple phrase, “Alleluia On We Go”- no accolades of merit or service, just this simple statement of joy and gladness, reflecting a call in his life. Alleluia, on we go!

God be praised, here is the path and together we go forward.

Each day we are given a choice, in the words of Mary Oliver, what will we do with this one and wild life?

In the example of Elijah and the demoniac, will we respond and listen and be freed to be restored?

As St. John’s you say “Alleluia on We Go” each time that you say “Thanks be to God” at the end of the service.

And for this I give such thanks and praise. For the moments of grace, the moments of love, the moments of learning from each of you and seeing God’s grace and love in each of you.

So dear friends, we have an odd and wonderous call, we have an amazing invitation each day to choose to follow a God who loves us.

So- Alleluia On We Go

Together met, together bound

       by all that God has done,

we’ll go with joy, to give the world

       the love that makes us one.

Amen

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