Sermons

Dare to be Enough: Sermon for Last Epiphany B

Dare to be Enough: Sermon for Last Epiphany B

    Feb 15, 2015

    Passage:Mark 9:2-9

    Preacher: The Rev. Jo Roberts Craig

    Series: Epiphany

    Category: Hope, Discipleship

    Keywords: courage, manifest, imperfection, transfiguration, love

    Summary:

    We hear Elisha ask the Prophet Elijah for "the Spirit of the Lord." We hear Peter on the mountain with Jesus at the time of the Transfiguration trying to make sense of it all. In both stories, we get glimpses of ourselves--people who are not perfect. We come to realize that it is alright not to be perfect--that God made us with our imperfections, and loves us anyway. The story of the Transfiguration helps to demonstrate this love.

    Detail:

    I returned on Friday night from attending a five day class or intensive as they are called on The Daring Way: Show Up/ Be Seen/ Live Bravely. It is the work of Brene’ Brown and the many facilitators and folks that surround her and this research.

    Brene’ visited St. Andrew’s several years ago and spoke to us on the topic of shame. At that same time, she was the guest speaker at the Diocesan Deacon’s Retreat.

    We were blessed by her then and these classes that I attended reinforced my belief in the importance of her work…reinforced my belief that her teachings walk hand in hand with the Gospel message

    And the reason is that in hearing her speak, in absorbing the research, in reflecting on our own lives…we find the opportunity to accept who we are and who we have become…to accept that what God has created in us enough…

    Not only enough, but enough to be delighted in our creation and in our gifts and limitations…in our gifts of imperfection

     This season after the Epiphany has often focused on God made manifest in our lives and in the lives of our fellow Christians…in the members of the wonderful parish family

     I believe that one of the steps toward making God manifest in our lives is to love who and what God created in each of us

     And to live out that love and delight requires “engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness”

     To live the Daring Way or the Wholehearted Way as Brene’ Brown describes it is to,

     “engage in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think , no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It is going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

     In the Old Testament story of Elijah and Elisha that we read today, we have a wonderful example of being enough …

     It almost painful to me as I hear the story of Elisha running after Elijah ….

     The student in me knows that it is a transition piece and that there are many theological nuances and statements in this story

     Even the traveling and the towns to which they traveled have significance, but what I hear and see in my minds eye is Elisha running after Elijah… sweating and trying to keep up as this determined prophet, Elijah, seeks to do God’s bidding

     One can see the old Elijah leaning into his mission and looking for where God wants him to be and Elisha panting and trying to keep up…

     To hear Elisha ask to inherit the son’s portion of an inheritance; asking Elijah to give him the spirit of God that he Elijah possesses

     The desperate feelings that flood Elisha knowing that God may lift Elijah up into the divine sphere leaving Elisha without…without Elijah and without the portion of spirit that Elisha so longs for and may miss if he does not keep up…

     If he does not measure up…If he is not enough…panic, determination, motivation, endurance all rolled into one

     And Elijah gives Elisha the hard thing to do…stay with me as I leave…stay beside me as I depart from you and leave you feeling great grief and doubt…doubt that you can carry on…

     Stay with me and watch as the chariot of fire and the horses separate us and the whirlwind takes me from you…

     Stay with me and know that the mantle I leave and the teaching that I have taught you will be enough…

     Know that what God created in you is enough to be the prophet and to make God made manifest…

     Then in the Gospel we enter a different arena…It is the story that Mark is telling us about God made manifest in Jesus

     In the stories just before the story of the transfiguration, Mark tells us of God’s generosity in Jesus

     Mark tells us of the feeding of the 4000 with the seven loaves and a few fish; of the healing of the blind man in Bethsaida

     And then Mark tells of Peter’s insight into Jesus as the Messiah and the painful interchange between the two…Jesus and Peter…as Peter rebukes Jesus when he hears of the horrible suffering that Jesus must under go and then Jesus rebuking Peter as Jesus claims the right to follow what God has in store for Him

     Six days after the heated and painful discussion between Peter and Jesus, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a high mountain apart from the others

     And Jesus is transfigured before them…His clothes are dazzling white and He stands talking with Elijah and Moses

     And Peter…as we all know the story goes…does not know what to say…NO KIDDING!!!

     He suggests three dwelling places…three booths…the three disciples are terrified and I can well imagine that the other two are amazed that Peter can even open His mouth…much less think of booths or dwelling places

     And the great cloud of God overshadows them and says, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to Him”

     And suddenly they look around and the cloud has left them, Moses and Elijah are no where to be seen and in fact, they see no one with them, but only Jesus

     Now I have to tell you that last little bit of the story has driven me crazy for the last 35 years…

     Why did Mark leave it at that? Why tell us, ONLY Jesus…How could one use the word only and Jesus in same context…in the same sentence

     Perhaps because the Pharisees and the Disciples wanted proof of the nature of Jesus

     Perhaps because Jesus as God was not acceptable or expected…Perhaps because to see Jesus standing there ONLY meant that Jesus was not enough…

    But I think otherwise…I think that as they stood on the mountain with Jesus ONLY, the message was that Jesus was enough

     That the love of God made manifest stood before them and that was ALL that they or anyone needed…

     That God incarnate could and would teach creation how to be…how to be the people of God

     Jesus in God made Manifest was the Divine in their midst…He was the Creator God standing before them…

     ONLY JESUS…

     And to build on that I want to make it clear that I think we are only ourselves…

     We are only the bundle of gifts and limitations that we were created to be

     We are not God Incarnate; we are not all knowing; we are not perfect…far from it…

     But we are enough. Peter is a perfect example of gifts of imperfection…God in Jesus did not choose him because he was the perfect human, but because he was willing to bring himself…raw and exposed…into the arena of life

     He was willing to be correct and to be terribly incorrect…

     But he showed up…Peter left the boat and followed…He bungled and betrayed, but he loved and kept trying

     That is what is asked of each of us…Embrace what God has given you, accept the things that have broken your heart and at times your spirit, and dare to live this life that we have been given…to live it with your whole heart

     Amen

     

    References:

     

    1. The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha, Fourth Edition
    2. Daring Greatly, Brene’ Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, Gotham Books, 2012
    3. The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene’ Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, Halezden, 2010