Two of my favorite subjects in school were math and chemistry. I liked the challenge of solving the answer to an equation or determining the chemical formulas of the reactants (the starting substances) and the resulting chemical formula of the products (substances formed in the chemical reaction). They were things that had order and could be reproduced. It seemed that if you knew and applied the method, you had the answers. How simple and easy, right? Well, the idea of it anyway. As much as I am an analytical person, a part of me yearns for the mystery. The part of our lives that we just don’t understand. Those things that are bigger than ourselves. There is so much in our lives and world that can be explained by math and science, that is a blessing given to humanity. The ability to discover, learn, and reason. What room is there then for mystery?
I recently had a conversation with a parishioner regarding our search process for a new rector. She said that she just didn’t understand why it has taken so long. She added that she thought we would be more than half way through the process by now. It made me think of one of the blessings of this community. We are not afraid to take action. If we see something that needs to be done. We come together to figure out a way to see that it is done. Look at all the ministries of this parish. The food pantry, 1children ministries, contemplative prayer, newcomers, Cafe Fix-it, all the various works under the ministry of Partnership in Mission & Advocacy, the list can go on and on. I can certainly understand this parishioner’s perspective. Look at all of our knowledge, experience, talents and abilities. Come on, with all of this, we should be able to find a rector, right? We are open to being transfigured - let’s get it finished. Let’s find that leader and go forth. We have work to do. My response to her was, I think its good to be where we are at in the process. Probably a little surprised by my answer, she asked, “you think so?” Of course fear and doubt about my answer snuck in to my head...
As you may know, I am in the process of seeking ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. I have gone through the discernment process with you my parish, and have been working through and almost finished with the next step of that process with the diocese. As a part of discernment with the diocese, I am expected to serve at a parish other than St. Michaels. I have served in two parishes in my time with the diocese. My current parish, where I have been for a year is Our Lady in the Valley located in the South Valley of Albuquerque. A purpose of this expectation is to learn from, experience and grow with another parish. This experience has been interesting and as a result, I have continued to grow into my calling. One of the most interesting things I have discovered is that people expect you to have all the answers. After all, you’re in discernment surely you know a thing or two about God. This of 2course is quite unnerving and causes me to seek answers about God from others my self. What I have discovered about God, is the more we know, the less we know. The more God reveals Himself to us, the less certainty we have.
Transfiguration is not just about knowing there is change. It is about what that change is going to mean. What will that change give you? Look at Peter, James, and John. They witnessed something truly amazing. They were so unsure of how to react, James and John didn’t say anything and Peter says, “Lord it is good for us to be here...” then “suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!" They were terrified. Can you blame them? Later, as they looked back on that experience, they understood that Jesus was the Messiah. That he was truly the one sent to save the world. No wonder they were terrified. To experience something that holy and unexplainable, how can we not be fearful?
If we are afraid do we miss the opportunity to experience the mystery? If we are so caught up on what’s happening or not happening in our search process or if the vestry understands our needs or how are we going to pay for this building or does the clergy know who I am - are we missing out on the mystery of this sacred place. This place that I know from so many of you that describes it as simply coming home. This place that reminds 3us that we are loved no matter who we are. A place that we all come together every week to share a meal and remember that God is with us. The mystery of grace found at this table in bread and wine.
A couple of months ago, I gave a sermon at the 5:00 service. In that sermon, I said that fear is a powerful motivator. However, fear in itself is not good nor evil. It is how we deal with that fear that determines the path we take. This morning, I am going to add a little more to that. I want to be a little fearful. I don’t want to have all the answers. That doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to learn. It doesn’t mean that math and science don’t have a place in the church. It simply means that I want the mystery of God to flow over us. To transfigure us into the people we are called to be. I want to experience the mystery of a community gathering, praying, and sharing that holy meal then going out to do the work we are called to do in faith and thanksgiving. You see maybe for a while, we forget all the rationale, knowledge and certainty of what should or needs to be done and recognize that we are afraid. We take time to move from thinking in our minds to praying from our hearts. When we do this, it is in that quietness of fear when we will hear the Holy Spirit guiding us. We then know our path.
Lord, it is good for us to be here. Amen.