Third Sunday of Easter - Year C
April 22, 2007
Third Sunday of Easter - Year C
April 22, 2007
Let us pray: O God, may we sense the workings of your spirit in these words and the spaces between them. Guide them and use them. Amen.
I actually wrote two reflections for this morning. This one (wave first edition) was the effort from Thursday afternoon in case Canadian North Flight 444 was late this morning. It wasnít. So, you are getting the Flight 444 reflection - the one I wrote on the plane.
Lloyd Henderson and I were privileged to attend the Northern Regional Event in Leduc this weekend. Donít worry, Iíll post the Thursday afternoon reflection on our church website as well - just in case itís better! yellowknifeunitedchurch.ca
I didnít think much about the Northern Regional event util about three weeks ago, because I didnít think I was going to attend. At one point, a presbytery meeting was scheduled to coincide with it, but that got changed. Then Lloyd mentioned that he could fly home on Sunday morning because the event ended on Saturday evening, and so with a little (okay, a lot) of travel assistance from Northern Lights presbytery - there we were.
It seems only fitting that you should receive something back from what we were able to gain from our experience on Friday evening and Saturday.
Originally, the theme speak was to have been Gil Rendle, a person whose books Iíve seen and even thumbed through. However, due to a very unfortunate accumulation of health emergencies, among Gilís loved ones, he could not attend. Instead, the planning committee was relieved and blessed to find out that Dan Hotchkiss was able to rearrange his schedule to come and spend some time with us. We were also blessed to have him.
We were also blessed to be there with Nora Sanders, who is very familiar to some of you here, and whom I had the pleasuire to meet. Nora was in Yellowknife during the week and she flew down to Edmonton on Friday morning as well - unfortunately on the other airline or we might have had a chance to speak with her a bit more.
Well. I could keep on going with reflections on the trip, but this reflection is not meant to be a travelogue of our quick trip south to Leduc and back.
Instead, I want to make some connections between our scripture passages today and what Dan Hotchkiss had to say with us this weekend. Fortunately, there are some connections and even with the things that were in my original Thursday afternoon reflection. More on that later.
Dan began by setting some context about the present day North Amerrican church, and more specifically about the wider context in which the church finds itself. He suggested that in order for a church to thrive in this world today, we need to do three things - in fact answer three questions - who are we? What specfic mission are we called to do, and __________. Itís not something that fits in a template. The plan needs to be worked out by each church congregation itself. At least thatís what I took from what he had to say. He did, however, offer a hint about what our mission might be - transformation - transformation of peopleís lives. Of course he said it delightfully, compellingly over about three hours, and he told it in story and with reference to what he calls ďHoly ConversationsĒ - a term borrowed from Gil Rendle, and with reference to the role of leadership in guiding a church on its mission.
Iíve only touched brieftly on what for me was a helpful, hopeful message to bring home and use it to guide me in my work here. All of that along with a question and answer time with Nora Sanders and Dan Hotchkiss, a chance to experience Noraís gentle, respectful, wise and well-centred spirit, which Iím sure you know about better than me. All of that was enveloped byu worship and music that had a distinctly celtic feel about it. Workshops as well - four of them to tell you about between the two of us - including one about this new book of music - More Voices which you will hear and see more about very soon! We were blessed, Lloyd and me, and I hope we can faithfully share that blessing with you over the next while.
Finally, I do want to draw a little on what I had to say in reflection number one - for I saw that our readings this morning were also about transformation - different circumstances, different timing, but transformation just the same. So, let me go back to Thursday and finish the way I finished then ...
... and so, what is the point of these stories - the fantastic story of Saulís Damascus road vision, or the otherwise fantastic story of a large, unexpected catch of fish, a surprising, unexpected encounter with Jesus who didnít look like Jesus or who at least cast a certain amount of doubt about whether it really was Jesus?
For me, it is clear. These arenít really stories about Jesus - they are stories about the Christ - people start recognising the Christ in people who donít look like Jesus - but they act like him. People start having fantastic visions about Jesus the Christ, and visions that result in radical transformation from one way of life to another. Thatís a story about the power of the message Jesus told in words and with his life, in his actions and with the connections he made for people about they way their lives connected with the way God would have them live.
Itís a story which keeps on asking to be lived out. We are Jesusí disciples too. We keep running into Christ as well - and only sometimes do we recognise the Christ. But Christ is there if only the scales would drop from our eyes. This is about Easter - not then, but now.
Well, if you want to read how I got there - you know where to go: yellowknifeunitedchurch.ca