Epiphany 2 – January 14, 2018

Rev. Lyle McKenzie Lutheran Church of the Cross of Victoria
1Samuel 3:1-20 Ps139:1-6,13-18 1Corin. 6:12-20 John 1: 43-51

God, help us faithfully follow Jesus and your calling each of us and all of us together to come and see even greater things than these in your redeeming this world. Amen

This is a calling Sunday – Young Samuel is called by God. The Psalmist sings of our being fully known by God. Jesus calls the first disciples. Paul calls the Corinthians to faithfulness in body and Spirit…
– In fact I think this used to be designated by the church as “it’s your call Sunday.” It’s a good and important emphasis.
– As long as we always hear the word “call” or “calling” as including all of us, not just rostered ministers…
– It’s the baptismal calling we celebrated last Sunday in the Baptism of Jesus as God’s beloved that we all share…
– It’s an individual calling, and it’s a collective calling…
– within the calling to all of us, there are those who are called to public ministries of the church like Deacons, Pastors, Bishops.
– These ministries are important in the church, but they are not greater callings than others. God calls all of us; every one.

We have been and are in a call process as a community
– calling a person to serve as a Pastor in this congregation and its growing ministries…
– As we have described in the congregational profile that is given to prospective candidates, this is a call for someone to join in a shared ministry with us…
– joining the various people involved in this ministry in administration and music and outreach, including me…
– recognizing that the ministry is or has the potential to expand in a number of areas, including;
– with young families, children, youth and young adults…
– possibilities of intergenerational housing with Luther Court…
– new opportunities in UVic Multifaith Services (MOU signing…)
– the Shelbourne Community Kitchen, community chaplaincy…
– truth and reconciliation, refugees, ecumenical partnerships, missional area ministries…

As we heard in the update from the Call Committee in Crossroads and announcements last Sunday, this process was proceeding, but after extensive conversations and struggle to discern God’s call, it resulted in a continuing and a different call for those we were considering… (sigh)
– and so we are searching and discerning again… in the trust and hope that God will call a person to join this ministry…

We are all called,individually and collectively… every one like Samuel and through Samuel, to the aging and troubled Eli… – fully known like the Psalmist sings, in body and Spirit as Paul reminds us, to follow Jesus and come and see greater things…

At the “Gifts for another way” ecumenical gatherings that began last Wednesday, I was impressed to hear the calling stories of people in my small group…

One person hesitantly shared returning to church after sometime away… a family member who had returned invited them to join in Holy Week worship… beginning with Maundy Thursday, and the foot washing and Jesus’ last meal…
– they described how the foot washing was done, the words of the minister, the gathering for the meal, with few words, but obvious significance…
– they returned the next day for Good Friday, and the following day for Holy Saturday and then Easter Morning… and they have continued, inviting other family to join them… giving meaning and joy and a different purpose to all of them…

Another talked about a philosophical journey through youth and adulthood seeking the truth and an end to human conflict that continued until a resolution came in recognizing caring and compassion as the critical response, and finding that value and expression in the churches…

Another just beginning a journey back, of healing in body and mind and seeking community and another an ever broadening sense of what is the church and God’s world and our connections to all of it together…

God calls all of us, everyone… by name, fully known, in body and Spirit, to follow and come and see greater things… what is that call story for you; what might God be calling you to follow now, and where will that calling take you…?

And God calls us together…
– I’ve already mentioned in the call process the various possibilities we have identified as a congregation…
– And what have we not yet seen, what is right before us…?
– What is God’s calling us to follow together, now, and where will that take us?

Some of you will recall our temporary sign that was up for about three years that included the phrase, “All are welcome… Come and see.”
– they were good words, and some mentioned it is what compelled them to feel welcomed and to come and see…
– But I think over time our sense of what that phrase means has been shifting… it has for me… in mission and renewal…
– as much as an invitation to all people to feel welcome to come and see this community here and now…
– it is call from God to this community to feel welcome and called to come and see what God is doing in the neighbourhood, in the world and join with others in God’s mission to love and save this world in the Spirit of Jesus…
– do you see how the direction and calling has shifted?
– not that we do not want to welcome and invite others to come and see and join us at this crossroads of worship and learning and service and community building together…
– but that God is also calling us to follow Jesus and come and see all God is doing in mission for and with people of this world.
– and we will see greater things than these…

It was a student this week at the Wine before Supper gathering at UVic who reminded us of the connection between Jesus’ words and the vision of Jacob’s ladder, with angels ascending and descending between heaven and earth. Jacob called the place, Bethel, the home of God…

Rather than a place, Jesus refers to himself as the one in whom his followers will see this vision realized, the connecting of heaven and earth, God’s realm and this world. The sacred/divine and our human temporal bodily existence…

The Christmas Epiphany season has once again drawn us into the incarnation, the gracious mystery and shocking reality of God joining humanity and all creation in the flesh…
– fully knowing human life, from being knit together in the womb, as the Psalmist sings, fully known…
– in a body, as Paul says, and everything that is part of bodily life from food to sex and relationships, and faithfulness in it all…
– called by name, like Samuel and Eli and all of us, Jesus, Jesus of whom Moses and the prophets wrote, Son of God, sovereign
– and in Jesus, God in the flesh calling the first disciples and each one of us and all of us together, to physically follow him and to come and see greater things than these…

The gracious gift of the incarnation forever changes the calling of God, inviting us to join God in the flesh, following in body and Spirit God’s way, to come and see even greater things than God has already revealed…
– like angels ascending and descending before us…
– like there is no separation between this world and the sacred realm of God…
– like it is all one in Jesus, God’s own, our sovereign…
– like Jesus is calling us by name, here and now, to follow, and come and see, greater things than we could have imagined…
– not knowing where it might take us… but that God’s hand is leading us and God’s love supporting us… as we pray

It’s a calling Sunday – and every Sunday is, every day is, by God’s grace… to you, and all of us together… to follow Jesus in the flesh, today, to come and see at Jesus invitation, and see and participate in greater things of God’s doing… today and forever.

Amen.