This morning’s sermon in Elk Grove:

 

In this morning’s reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, we read about Jeremiah’s call.  The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah.  “Before I formed you in the womb,”  he is told, “I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

But Jeremiah says, “Ah, Lord God!  Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.”  It’s actually not clear how literally true this might have been.  There are Jewish traditions (seemingly based on how little he said in the first thirteen years of his career before King Josiah died) that he may have been commissioned at birth!  And the word “boy” in Jeremiah’s response could mean any male between an infant and a young man!  His career really seems to take off when Jehoiakim takes over as king.  All told, he spends forty years prophesying before the temple is destroyed.

Those forty years remind people of Moses’ forty years in the wilderness.  He, like Moses, is descended from a priestly family.  And he, like Moses, tries to turn God down when he’s called.

God does not seem so much to respond, directly, to Jeremiah’s objection as to redirect Jeremiah.  “You shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.

God tells his not to be afraid and promises to be with him.  And then God reaches out and touches Jeremiah’s mouth, putting God’s words in his mouth (which is similar to the burning coal touching Isaiah’s mouth when he was called).

 

I find myself thinking, “God formed us all in the womb” and “God has consecrated and appointed us” – even if we have not been called to be prophets, we have surely been called.  God has touched us and given us gifts to build up the Body of Christ.

I’m willing to bet that you’re a little bit shocked to hear me say that.

Most of the time, we talk about this in connection with baptism and spiritual gifts.  Invoking Jeremiah and Moses and Isaiah leaves us feeling rather dwarfed.  These are giants of the faith.

But I have just one word for you, “Jesus.”  Jesus may build upon the careers of giants of the faith.  But in my mind, Jesus dwarfs them.  And our baptisms are built upon Jesus’ baptism, where God’s Holy Spirit comes down and descends upon him and touches him just as God touched Jeremiah and Isaiah.  God’s Holy Spirit comes down upon us, and touches us, and declares us well beloved children, and empowers us for …  some purpose.  God empowers every one of us for some purpose, some purpose connected with building up the Body of Christ

We are the Body of Christ.

Somehow, mystically, together we are connected with Jesus and through Jesus.  We are called to be hands and feet and eyes and mouths and every other part of the Body.  We are called, together, to work together, to bring about the purposes for which God has called us.  There is no higher calling.

 

I find myself thinking that this may be a particularly good time, in the life of this congregation, to remember this.  Due to circumstances beyond everyone’s control, your past Rector, Fr. Ray, has retired and moved on in his life – continuing faithfully to follow where God has called him.  But for all the legitimate sense of loss and grief his departure brings, you are not really orphaned.

I know you know that

You know that God continues to touch your lives and call out your gifts – that you like Jeremiah do not need to be afraid, because God is with you still.

It is time, however, to assess anew where God is calling you to go:  what are you being sent to do?  Both individually and as a congregation, where is God calling you to go?  Both in the life of this congregation and the life of your community, where is God calling you to go?  God depends upon our faithful response, calling us, like Jeremiah and Moses, to overcome our reservations and allow God’s power to work in our lives.

There are things this congregation can do for God that no one else can.  There are things each one of you can do for God that no one else can.  You are called, you are invited, to listen faithfully to God’s call, to discern prayerfully that it is God’s call you are hearing (and not something else, however good that something else might possibly seem to be) and to go, to follow faithfully, where your God is leading you this very day – waiting only for you to hear the word of God that comes to you …

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