30 January 2022
I Corinthians 13:1-13
Sunday Cycle of Prayer -The Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean
-St. Mark’s Church, Cocoa
-St. David’s by the Sea, Cocoa Beach
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen
God calls us to draw near to him and find the place our heart sings.
Have you ever had moments, maybe hearing a song on the radio
or being awakened in the middle of the night, or seeing a beautiful sunset
or even coping with a crisis?
Have you had moments in which you became aware that God was
calling you to draw nearer to God to discover your true calling?
An important moment arose for me in February 1991….
my first husband was deployed to Desert Storm; I was 7- months pregnant
with our first daughter and the news just announced two American officers had been killed in a Saudi Arabian Scud-Missile attack …
Suddenly, I felt as if the bottom was dropping out of my life…
All the best psychological techniques I had been taught and taught others
were clearly inadequate to cope with the fear, vulnerability, and loneliness
deep in my soul…worrying my husband had been killed…
Deep in my spirit….I sensed how much I needed to be more fully in relationship with God…
more than just on Sunday morning. God was welcoming me to watch, look, and listen
for God’s presence to guide me every day of my life…to discover who God is
and who I truly am in God…
Thirty years later, God has led me to a wonderful place I could never have imagined back then
…here walking with you and serving our Lord together and living into my true calling….
But as some of you know…the journey to get here was not a direct flight from San Diego to Lake Placid …there were chapters I thought I was unworthy and turned away from God and let temptation lead me down some detours with painful roadblocks ….
there were other chapters which I loved where I was but struggled with a restlessness …
sensing God was inviting me to explore more widely and more deeply….
Over time as I kept becoming aware of those moments in which
God was right there ….welcoming and inviting me ….
no matter how far I had strayed off God’s path calling me back to know God and
to listen for my true calling…
Now… Call stories are not unique to clergy folks…they are throughout the Bible…
and throughout our congregation
We all have call stories…we share a universal calling to follow Christ
and… we have a unique call story with chapters, perhaps….
in which God calls each of us by name to find the places and roles to serve God
where our hearts sing..
God calls us to places where theologian Frederick Buechner writes
are where the deep needs of the world meet the deep joy in our hearts..
God calls each of us into a more intimate relationship to know God and to discover our true callings
so we might deeply love God and our neighbor.
This morning we heart the prophet Jeremiah’s moment…. his call story…
About 1500 years before, Abram had his first moment
When God called him to leave his home to form a nation, a nation that would later be built upon
the giving of Law to Moses on the rock tablets at Mt. Sinai….
a nation called to be the light for all nations
And now the prophet Jeremiah…the son of a priest, Hilkiah, is called many years later… in 627 BC
to be a prophet to the southern Kingdom of Judah..a prophet not only for the nations, but for each of our own hearts…for Jeremiah’s ministry moved the focus from solely national identity based upon Moses’ Law…. to incorporate the importance of our individual calling
where the law was to be written in inner workings of our hearts and spirits…
Jeremiah was a young man… when he had the first of many moments with YHWH…
serving under the last “good” and faithful King, King Josiah, in Judah
and then for over 40 years with four wicked kings…in a time of spiritual, moral, and political spiritual unrest…as Babylon, Egypt, and Assyria battled to be number one…
and Judah and Jeremiah were caught in the middle…
and the people, despite Jeremiah’s’ prophecies
turned away again and again from YHWH….
And we hear that God, who spoke creation into existence speaks directly to Jeremiah
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you
I appointed you a prophet to the nations."
These words… just amaze me… God is mysteriously both sovereign and in charge,
and also …..accessible ….present inviting Jeremiah and us into an intimate relationship with God
For God says to Jeremiah and to each of us….I …knew… you….
even before you were more than a protoplasm of cells…
I had visions and plans and hopes for you...
I am your oldest companion…
Perhaps you have known an emotionally intimate connection
with a parent or a spouse or friend…someone who wants to know, hope, and love you
into to being your best self… no matter what….
God invites Jeremiah and you and me to live into that unconditional love only God can truly give!
And not only did I know you, says God to Jeremiah… unique as you are…
I formed you…. as only I, God, can…
imprinting upon you…as theologian Richard Rohr writes..
a True and unique Blueprint…that you have years]
to discover who you are, to choose to become who you are,
and to live your destiny to the fullest…
because before you were born I consecrated you….. says God…
I blessed and set you apart as holy, sacred to me, with a specific calling…
because I will appoint you Jeremiah… as a prophet to the nations…
Now…. not all of us are appointed by God to be prophets..
But God calls and appoints us with roles to fulfill.. to share our gifts and talents as I have seen here at St. Francis gifts that God invites us to share
as we teach, learn, worship, and share with love both amongst ourselves
and with our community in this chapter of our lives..
And while it is exciting to enter into the adventure God calls us
to discover who we are… our true blueprint....
It isn’t always easy, as I suspect you know, to choose .. to say yes ….
to become who God is calling us…and to live out our destiny to the fullest..
A part of me truly understands Jeremiah’s hesitance..
“Wait Lord… I don’t’ know how to speak… for I am only a boy…”
Can’t you just imagine saying something similar when God calls you….
Woah… Lord… stop….I don’t….. ….. because I am ONLY……….
I can’t do that because… . I am too old… too tired…
too busy… too scared to face how you might be calling me to
grow and stretch and change…
It is only too human as Paul Tillich once wrote…
… to desire to escape God…because people of all kinds… prophets and reformers,
saints and atheists, believers and unbelievers, have the same experience.”
It is human to fear surrendering and putting God in charge..
But God re-directs Jeremiah… and us….
to remember that when we excuse or rationalize to say NO to God
we fail to remember that GOD is the bigger part of the equation..
God reminds Jeremiah… and us all… that when the tasks are difficult……
and the times are hard…and we doubt ourselves….
God is still in charge.. … if we surrender to God’s will
if we turn over our agendas and our expectations of what we believe should be
and let God take the wheel of our lives…God will be with us….
We can be re-assured that God is not like some
boot camp Drill instructor or demanding insensitive boss….
God is present with us…
inviting us to choose God’s way and path for us..
knowing that God will provide for us
whether that is words we are called to speak
or time or energy or creativity or focus to do our part
God will be ,and is there, to walk with us….welcoming and inviting us
every moment and chapter along the way to fulfilling our destiny in Christ
and to fulfill our true calling….
And so I invite you…. to be like Jeremiah…
to listen for the God moments
in which God is inviting you
to step into the moments and chapters of your lives
in which God is already there…
ready to equip you for whatever role God has appointed you to do…
And to trust God is with you… working in and through you…
so you will be equipped with God’s love
to live into the moments and chapters God calls you to…
to your true calling.