Monday, March 14, 2011

Preached to the Milton Presbyterian Church, Milton, NC

There are themes that run through all I say. One theme is this: I’m here to connect you with God and with your lives. These are not two things. This is one thing. As I connect you with God, I connect you with your life. As I connect you with your life, I connect you with God. God and your life are one thing. You can’t have one without the other. Your life is an expression of God. As you live the life that is your life to live, God becomes visible, is made known.

One of the problems with the church of our experience is that it has disconnected God from our lives. It has told us, taught us, to believe in God apart from our lives. Our lives are “down here,” with us, all own doing, and God is “up there,” “the man upstairs,” you know. Well. There is no man. There are no stairs. God is in our lives, in the life that is our life to live. God comes wrapped up in the life that is truly our life to live. If we want to know God, we have to live in certain ways. We cannot live any way we please. We cannot live any old old life we settle for. We must live the life that is ours, the life that we are called to live. When we embrace that life, our life, we embrace God. This is one theme.

Another theme is that I’m here to tell you to Wake UP! Grow UP! Square Yourself Up With Your Life As It Is And As It Must Be! This is the deep work that is ours to do. We must do it because there is no one but us to do it. The work is difficult—it is so difficult it is called the Hero’s Journey—because we don’t want to do it. We do not want our life as it is or as it must be. We want a different better life. We have ideas, aspirations, dreams, goals, ambitions, and neither life as it is nor life as it must be compliments what we have in mind. Which is why I’m here to tell you to Wake UP! Grow UP! Square Yourself Up With Your Life As It Is And As It Must Be!

Your life as it is is the context and circumstances within which you live. You live in Milton, North Carolina. You do not live in Charlotte or New York or London or Paris. Your life here is different than it would be if you lived somewhere else. You have different choices. Different options. Different opportunities. You were born when and where you were born. Your parents were your parents. All the facts that have governed your life are your facts to square yourself up with. They are different from each others’ facts, from my facts, but we all have the same work to do of squaring ourselves up with the facts that we have had to work with, deal with, all our lives long. We never complete that work. It is always to be done.

These facts of our lives, the time and place of our living, our choices and opportunities, etc. are our fate. They are the things we were born into. The things we cannot help, like the color of our hair or the size of our footprint, or how fast we can run the hundred yard, or now the hundred meter, dash. And we have to square ourselves up with them because they are what they are, and together they form the context and circumstances of our lives.

Now, within that context and those circumstances—within the fate that is ours—we are called to live out our life as it must be. This is our destiny. Our destiny is who we are called to become. Our destiny is what we are capable of doing with our fate, with the facts that determine so much of our life. They don’t determine all of our life, unless we let them, unless we cave into the facts and give into our fate and surrender hopelessly to the context and circumstances of our living in a “Who cares? Why try? What difference does it make?” kind of way.

I am here to remind you that God is with us within the context and circumstances of our lives, within the fate that defines our living, the facts that limit our lives, to enable and assist us in embracing and serving our destiny and becoming who we are capable of being within the limits and boundaries of our lives. And here we are back to the first theme, connecting with God and connecting with our lives and becoming who we are asked to be within the context and circumstances of our life. This is our work. And we are not alone in that work. God is with us in that work to do the work.

This is the thing. God is with us to do the work. God is not with us so that we might live any way we choose, so that we can fritter away our time in trivial pursuits, in entertaining pastimes—so that we can hang out at the mall or take trips and cruses until we die. God is with us for the specific purpose of doing the work of becoming who we are, bringing forth the gifts and the genius that are ours to bring forth in blessing the world. Which is exactly what Abraham’s journey to the Land of Promise is all about.

This is the hero’s journey, the hero’s task. Abraham leaves home in search of home. He leaves his physical home in search of the home of his spirit, his soul. He is in search of where he belongs, in search of what he belongs to. Where we belong—what we belong to—is the Promised Land, which is also the Kingdom of God, which is The New Jerusalem, which is where we and God are as one. This does not exist in some far off future, but is right here and right now when we take up the search for the gift we have been given, for the life we are called to live, for the work that is ours to do, for where we belong, for what we belong to. To take up this search is to, in Jesus’ words, “have life and have it abundantly.” It is to live the life we are called to live, bringing ourselves—the self we are created to be—and God forth into the world of normal, apparent reality.

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