Sunday, June 6, 2010

Moving Forward in Faith

(Read Genesis 12:1-9)

There is little mystery in going to the grocery store. First of all, we’ve all been there like 1,000 times. Second, most of us go with a list in mind, and third, we basically buy the same items every time anyway. The grocery store is what you might call a safe bet. Not a lot of mystery, not a lot of the unexpected.

If we work or go to school, the same is usually true of our experience there. We pretty much know what to expect. Even our weekly routine is no mystery. People are creatures of habit and we like the certainty of knowing what’s going to happen.

One thing that is a mystery in our lives is the call we receive from God. We never quite know what God will want from us. It can be a bit unsettling, and yet, it can also be very exciting. Who knows what great plans God has for us?

We are in the midst of a calling from God. We are smack in the middle of an unfolding mystery. What will Miracle Sunday bring us? What exactly we will do from here is yet to be known.

The one thing I do know is that we have already triumphed; we have already succeeded because God called and we answered that call. No matter what today’s total is, we have already succeeded because we have acted in faith.

Abram’s life was pretty comfy and cozy until God called him one day. And then, boy, did he walk into a mystery. Abram was sitting safe and sound in his father’s house when God said, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”

Now that is an intimidating calling. To leave everything. But Abram responded with great faith, that is why he is so revered in our Judeo-Christian tradition. He packed his things, took his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot and moved ahead into the unknown. He moved forward in faith, which is exactly what we are doing today!

Abram left Haran and went by way of the river to Schechem. There he built an altar to the Lord. These altars were points of meeting for God and Abram. When Abram built them, he felt the presence of God and communed with God. Next, Abram walked faithfully forward to Bethel, where he again built an altar to commune with God.

We can all gain confidence from Abram’s faith. Abram left security, trusting in a better future which God promised if only he followed the path laid out for him. The unknown might be scary to us, but when God is the one we are walking towards, like Abram we know God will meet us more than halfway.

We are on a path that God has laid out for us. We don’t know everything that will happen, but we have the assurance that God is walking with us, encouraging us, providing for us, and meeting us along the road.

With all the certainly in our lives, there’s something sacred and special about living in the mystery of God.

Let me provide you with an image of what I think answering the call of God is like:

At the very beginning of being called by God, it’s like walking around in the dark, you walk slowly, hesitantly with your arms out looking for walls and objects, points of reference, trying not to bump into anything, unsure of what’s going on.

But as you keep moving forward, it’s like walking at dawn. It starts out dark so we are walking slowly, tentatively, not quite knowing what to expect. But as the sun begins to rise, a soft light starts to illuminate the land. We start to see shapes and outlines of the things around us. We get a feel for where we’re going.

As the call moves from mystery to a definite plan, it’s like walking around in the light, you walk much more quickly, with confidence using your eyes to see what’s ahead of you so you can avoid any obstacles and move towards what you know is right.

Eventually, the light is bright enough that we can see clearly where we are at, what’s in front of us and where we are going. By the end of a particular faith journey, it’s quite clear where we’re headed and how we are going to get there.

We are in the dawn of our faith walk as a congregation right now. Months ago, before talk of Miracle Sunday even began, it was dark outside. We couldn’t really see where we were going, and we were walking slowly, not sure of what was ahead of us.

But then, the sun began to rise. We realized the church needed some tender loving care, and we decided to rise to the challenge and care for this special place. We committed to a method, the Miracle Sunday method, and moved ahead.

At this point, the light was just bright enough that we started seeing the shape of how things might look one day. We were in the dawn of our calling.

Today is a big day for us, the sun has risen in the sky just high enough that we can see it above the tree line. We know the day is breaking. We are walking more confidently now. We are starting to see what lies up ahead in the road. Yes, today is an exciting today - the day when the sun breaks through and becomes visible.

Up until today, it’s all been talk and planning and hard work. Today, we put our money where our mouth is. Today we are taking steps. We are moving forward in faith.

Like Abram, God has called us and told us its time to move. And like Abram, we are faithful people willing to respond to God’s call, confident that God will meet us on the road as we move ahead.

After today, our future calling remains a bit of a mystery. The next steps involve the actual renovations, and we have an exciting plan but no one can know exactly what God will do with us. We’re doing today will affect what happens 10 years down the line, 50 years down the line, 100 years down the line. That’s part of God’s bigger plan that we don’t ever quite get access to until it finally happens.

My friends, as God’s messenger, I want to thank you all for moving forward in faith these past months and especially today.

And on a personal note, think about your lives and what God is calling you to do now. Are you moving forward in faith? Are you taking chances or playing it safe because God’s blessings are often found when we take that chance and go forward, blind or not, in faith.

Live in the mystery! Enjoy the mystery! And thanks be to god who calls us forward
into new and abundant life.

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