Thursday, October 22, 2015

Discover the . . .

 Golden Thread of Life
Homily by The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA; 2 Lent, 1 March 2015
Year B RCL: Genesis 17:1-7,15-16; Psalm 22:22-30; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38

Always be a first-rate version of yourself

instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.1

Entertainer Judy Garland's idea to be a 1st-rate version of yourself intrigued me when I read it. To be a 1st-rate version of yourself reflects today's scriptures that emphasize the uniqueness of individuals created by God, who calls into existance things that do not exist. Obviously, God has called us into existance. We didn't ask to be born. God wanted each of us on this earth for a unique purpose. What is the 1st-rate you that God created you to be?
With Jesus, & guided by the Holy Spirit, we can learn to be our 1st-rate self. We know Jesus' unique purpose on earth. We see Jesus' 1st-rate self challenge Peter in our Gospel.
We see Peter struggle. He has a tough time as he clings to his human perspective & picks up where Satan left off last week trying to get Jesus to do things his way – the temporal way, rather than God's timeless way infused with an eternal, blessed quality. Peter forgets what God tells Abraham: “I am God Almighty; walk before me,” in other words: “walk in My ways,” as the Jewish Study Bible says.2
Peter doesn't yet walk fully in God's ways. He sees life from a limited perspective. He doesn't yet know: “If you keep telling the same sad small story, you will keep living the same sad small life.”3 
Eventually, Peter changes & stops telling the same sad, small story.
We know life changes after God changes Abraham's & Sarah's names to emphasize the change their promised parenthood will bring. They have unique work to do in God's creation. Did they even ask God for their unique work? That's like asking to be born. It was God's idea.
Our faith affirms: We are God’s idea. What was God up to when God created you & me? Look around & notice everyone here is unique. Our God-given uniqueness may connect each of us like pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle, fitting together with the purposes of others so that we manifest God's Goodness where we are. What IS your purpose? Answer this: Beyond being with family & friends, what do you love to do?...Think of simple things that give you a burst of satisfaction deep inside when you do them...
For example, I love to crochet, to tap dance, to watch dragonflies. I invite you to turn to your neighbor & share some things you love to do....especially little things that give you deep satisfaction....[Time to share.] What are some life-giving qualities you heard? [Time for feedback.]
I believe what we love to do is true to our core purpose. You may instinctively know the timeless quality or the gift of what you do. Being aware of our gifts helps prevent burnout & helps us know how to apply its timeless quality in new ways.
The outward form of what we love to do may have to change. [Aging knees may make me give up tap dancing some day, but I can express the joy I share through it in other ways.] The timeless quality remains inside us. What is the timeless quality, the motivation of what you love to do?....
Many of you love to cook, to fish, to play golf. You might share the same essential quality. Cooks may share the joy of cooking for different reasons. This temporal act of creativity, may be a challenge to bring together different flavors. Some golfers & fishermen like a challenge, like to bring together different competitors. Cooks may focus on aesthetics of how the food looks; fishermen & golfers may focus on the beauty of their setting, a great looking catch, a beautiful shot. Perhaps the essence that delights a cook, a golfer & or fisher folk is sharing with others the meal, the time in a boat or on the course.
A priest I know finds great satisfaction gluing large plastic pipes together as he does handyman work at home, as he told us at Clergy Conference. The essence of what he does is to make things fit. In his work, he makes sure his staff “fit” together for the good of all. Perhaps he is on earth to make things fit.
Jesus tells the fishermen James & John, “Come follow me & I will make you fishers of people”. They get to do what they love to do in a different way.
Jesus tells us today: Deny yourself, take up your cross & follow me. What does that say to you? What if following Jesus allows us to deny ourselves of that temporal “stuckness” that we see in Peter & that would keep us from recognizing & living into the eternal quality that only you/we can give to the jigsaw puzzle of life.
Stuckness” is victim living.

We know & must help others know how to move from victim to survivor to thriver. We can't change what happened. We can change how we see it. When someone keeps telling you the worst thing that ever happened to them, you can ask them to notice: “You are here today. You survived. God's life-giving Love in you is bigger than the worst that can happen.”
A victim story is Bad Friday. 
A survivor story is bewildering Saturday before Easter:
We survived, what now?
Suddenly it's Easter: a new beginning,
 an awareness that life may be very different but
life has not been taken from us! 
Easter transforms Bad Friday into Good Friday! Easter tells the thriver story! Our Risen Lord Jesus shows us God brings life & good from any situation.
Jesus' love links us to each other, to God & all of creation. The timeless, valuable, life-giving qualities of what we love to do are like golden threads linking all aspects of our lives now, in the past, into the future.
Notice these golden threads of life.
Discover their timeless, unhurried essence that comes
from God's Love.

2015 Lenten Meditations. Episcopal Relief & Development. New York: 2014.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers. 1988.
Harper’s Bible Dictionary. General Ed.: Paul J. Achtemeier. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers. 1985.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
Lectionary Page. Accessed: 16 Feb. 2015.
The New American Bible for Catholics. South Bend: Greenlawn Press. 1986.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. Expanded Ed. Revised Stantard Version. Eds: Herbert G. May. Bruce M. Metzger. New York: Oxford University Press. 1977.
Voyles, Robert J. Restoring Hope: Appreciative Strategies to Resolve Grief and Resentment. Hillsboro, OR:The Appreciative Way. 2010. “Teaching Forgiveness” 2014.
1 Judy Garland. Quoted P. 37 of “Teaching Forgiveness” based on Voyles, Robert J. Restoring Hope: Appreciative Strategies to Resolve Grief and Resentment. Hillsboro, OR: The Appreciative Way. 2010.
2 Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. P. 37.
3 Jean Houston. Quoted P. 40 uoted P. 37 of “Teaching Forgiveness” based on Voyles, Robert J.Restoring Hope: Appreciative Strategies to Resolve Grief and Resentment. Hillsboro, OR: The Appreciative Way. 2010.

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