Sunday, March 27, 2011

Another Sermon at Milton Presbyterian Church

We want the Water of Life so that we might do what we want to do: live the life we have in mind. The gift of water is connected with the gift of life. Water for the life we are to live comes forth from that life as we live it. This is the message of the water from the rock. We will find what we need when we live in the service of what has need of us, but we may never have more than we need. This is the message of the manna in the wilderness. Within this life, there is that life. Within that one, this one. We pull that one into this one, live this one on the basis of that one—find what we need to live this one in our association with that one, like water from the rock.

To drink the water Jesus offers we have to become who Jesus was. Jesus does not quench our thirst so that we can go our merry way about the things that are important to us. Those who would be his disciples must pick up their cross daily and follow him—and their cross is the burden of bringing forth their, our, Gift, our Genius, our destiny. Our cross is the price we pay to serve the Gift, the Genius, that is ours to serve—the price we pay to live the life that is ours to live within the here and now of our lives.

All of the epic hero stories are about us, the Gift, and our life. We struggle to bring forth our Gift, our Genius, within the context and circumstances of our life the way Ulysses struggled with the Cyclops. But, we avoid the struggle by putting our service to the Gift on hold until our ducks are in a row, money is in the bank, the kids are out of college, the world is receptive. The truth is that we have no intention of serving the Gift. We have bigger fish to fry. We have our wishes, wants, desires, ambitions, interests, inclinations, etc. to serve.

I talk about serving the Gift with no profit in mind and someone else talks about the Law of Attraction with nothing but profit in mind. Who has the audience? Whoever promises profit profits. Profit at any price is the rule of life. If a profit can be made, a profit will be made. The Gift has to be profitable for us to be interested, it has to benefit us in some immediate, substantial way. There is a problem here.

The problem is that the Gift is NOT profitable! But. We cannot buy with all our profits what the Gift will give you: Meaning. Life. We cannot purchase meaning, life with all of the money we dream of having. The wealth we long for is meaningless. The woman at the well longed for the water of life. The water of life is the service of the Gift, bringing forth the Genius that is ours to give to the world.

The hero goes off on his/her journey, experiences all the trials of heroship, returns with the boon, the Gift, and cannot give it away. Nobody wants it. Jesus stands weeping over Jerusalem: “How often I would have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks, but you would not.” This is the real trial, serving the Gift when no one is interested in what you have to offer. Nobody buys your books, listens, cares. It's just another trial. Another test. You, we, are here to serve the Gift, to bring it forth, to trust ourselves to it no matter what. In the stories of the hero, the boon, the treasure, must always be retrieved from the lair of dragons. To give the Gift we must face the dragons named, So What? Who Cares? Why Try? All of the trials the hero faces test the hero's faith in the Gift and strengthen her/his resolve to serve the Gift no matter what.

Four synonymous terms for "Gift" are "Genius," "Work," "Life," and "Destiny." Our Gift is our Genius is our Work is our Life is our Destiny. The world around us has no conception of Gift, Genius, Work, Life, Destiny. Wealth, Prosperity, Profit, Money are the things it understands.We are not here to convert the world, to wake the world up. We are here to be awake, to be alive, to do our work. The rest is distraction.

Making disciples of all nations is clearly NOT what Jesus was about. The disciples always subvert the work of the master. True disciples BECOME the master, live out of their own authority, don't say, "The Master said..." but say what they have to say. We say what we have to say, do what we have to do, and let it stand or fall. We aren't here to establish our work, but to do it and let it go. But if it doesn't last it doesn't mean anything, right? Wrong. The doing is meaningful. We do what is meaningful to us, what is life for us.

The Gift we bring forth is our Self. The boon we offer to the world is us. Joseph Campbell said, “The influence of a vital person vitalizes.” Our living brings the world to life. The Gift we give to the world is not something they can put on a shelf and bow to daily. It is the realization of their own Gift to bring out.

All we can be is awake, aware, alive. There is nothing beyond that to know, or do, or have, or be. Being awake wakes others up of they can be awakened. That's it. To think we have to be recognized, worshiped, adored fails the test. It's another trial. We only have to be awake, aware, alive, here and now. Our work may be a service to humankind, but we are not here to serve humankind. We are here to wake up, to be aware and alive.

The work is realization, awareness, waking up, and it comes about through a specific, particular, focus, expression, endeavor. Something we do. We are here to wake ourselves up through something we do. The something we do is our work but the real work is waking up.

Our common task is this: Claim the Gift, open it, share it with the world, and don’t be upset or surprised when they don’t receive it. Your place is to live the Gift in the world, to share the Gift with the world, to bless the world with the Gift. And, if they don’t choose to be blessed, so be it. Your place is not to be recognized, rewarded, accorded places of honor and held in high esteem.

We have to protect the Gift, guard the Gift, defend the Gift, serve the Gift, do right by the Gift at all costs, in all times and places. We cannot take the Gift for granted, ignore it, treat it poorly. We must honor the Gift by serving the Gift in each moment of life.

Truth does not exist in the abstract but in the minute particulars of our lives. It is the truth of how things are and also are. The truth of how things need to be. The truth of what is important. The truth of what can be done. The truth of what needs to be done. The truth of who we are being asked to be by the nature and circumstances of our lives, by the here and now of existence, to make things more like they ought to be, need to be, than they are.

We will always have what we need to do what needs to be done, but. We will not always want to do it. Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane is our prayer in every place: “Thy will, not mine be done.” We grow up against our will. Amen! May it be so!

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