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We are Called for a Purpose

January 13, 2018

The schedule has been absolutely insane since Christmas and I am slowly recovering from the Flu which was a belated Christmas present I gave myself around December 26th! I went digging through my old pictures to find this one for tomorrow’s bulletin cover. Here is the reflective text I shared:

“I pulled this picture out of the files from just over a year ago. As I reflect upon what an honor and a privilege it is to be called as your pastor, this fellow is one of the reminders of the incredible beauty of our community which God has called me to. Today as we ordain and install our new Elders and Deacons, I pray that God’s Spirit will continue to enrich and challenge us as we serve together.”

That was my initial thought as I began the process of preparing for tomorrow’s sermon. In the days following, I found myself reflecting on the precious and fragile nature of life. We attended the funeral of the father of a dear friend and parishioner on Wednesday. My Dad had a particularly difficult day as he continues to walk through the Valley of the Shadows following Mom’s death in November. I found myself riding the waves of grief myself as we plan the third funeral for a member of the church (the third death this year).

Then as I look at a so-called world leader who denigrates a large portion of the world by calling the countries and regions s**tholes. To add further insult, so-called religious leaders and their followers (christian with a lower case for sure), make excuses for such abhorrent behavior on the part of that leader! Thus my heart continues to break. I have served in some of those places, served alongside of military members who were born in those places, and my wife has lived in one of those places! To top it off, today, the people of Hawaii had the living daylights scared out of them with an “accidental” message that said there was an inbound ballistic missile!

So how does one approach tomorrow’s lectionary passages? Does one focus on the irony (thank you, Holy Spirit, you have a wild way of doing this) that in tomorrow’s Gospel reading Nathaniel responds to Philip’s invitation to come and see Jesus with the following: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Many have essentially translated this reply from John 1:46 with the statement: “Can anything come from a s**thole like Nazareth?”

Does one focus on the fact that the religious and governmental system was a complete mess when the young lad Samuel was training in the Temple under Eli? He trained in a time when God’s voice was no longer heard in the land and a priest like Eli was a dying breed. Does one draw comparisons between the Temple and government in Eli’s time and the religious and governmental reality in our nation today?

As I have struggled, the Spirit has spoken in the midst of the chaos and the hurt as she is prone to do. Tomorrow we will be ordaining and installing five Elders and four Deacons at Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies. These nine women and men have responded to God’s call just as Samuel did and just as the Disciples did. Samuel and the Disciples responded to God’s call in a time of uncertainty and turmoil. Personally, I responded to God’s call in the midst of uncertainty in 1980 and to God’s second call in 2010 in the midst of more uncertainty.

One thing I have learned over the past thirty-one years of ministry is to expect the unexpected! The Holy Spirit will blow where she will and God will always meet us in the messiness of life. As I pray and prepare for tomorrow’s Ordinations and Installations, I can and will trust the Spirit to lead and to guide.

We are indeed called for a purpose. That purpose is to Love as Christ has taught us to love! That purpose is to live out the call of Micah to “do justice, love kindness/mercy, and to walk humbly with God.” May you blow in our midst, Holy Spirit! Challenge us and equip us as we seek to live as Christ followers in a world that does not recognize him or even seek to follow his lead.

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