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Sermon Ideas 4U - Archived Sermons -- AFTER Advent 2002

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This Week's Sermon !

March 1, 2015 - Lent 2

Genesis 7: 1-7, 15-16
Psalm 22
Mark 8: 31-38

The Impossible Journey

I read a story on the ‘net not long ago about a family whose cat ran away when they were packing up to move. They waited around as long as they could but finally had to leave, heartbroken about the sudden disappearance of their beloved kitty cat. Four years later they returned to their old neighbourhood and lo and behold, even though they thought she was a goner, the cat came back! Perhaps cared for by others for at least part of the interim, this cat was reunited with her original people. I went to the internet to try and nail down some details about this story but I discovered a great many such stories of pets, mostly cats, who had traversed great distances to be reunited with their people. I suspect though that many do fall prey to coyotes and eagles.

I may ask someone, “Where is home?” That is not necessarily an easy question to answer. For some people home is wherever they live, but for others, it is another place, a place of origin, or a place of connection - a place of the heart -where they don’t live any more, but would like to.

I think of the refugees who arrive with little more than the clothes on their backs. Fleeing oppression, war or famine, they have left the familiar and the known and have come to a new land, often without either English or French; without anything but their wits and a solid determination to make a new life in a new land.

Since none of us here, as far as I know, are First Nations, all of our ancestors made this same journey - or we ourselves did. A family of five in a previous congregation came in the early 1990s with a shipping container, or two, filled with personal and household effects and farm machinery. More than one person I know came here as a student or on a short term work visa, fell in love with a Canadian and, as they say, the rest is history.

The Christian faith has its roots in the concept of a journey. Long before Jesus called disciples and others to be “followers”, thereby assuming a journey of some sort, the aged couple Abram and Sari were called to go on a journey to an unknown land, a journey that would take generations and never really finish.

That’s what I really wanted to talk about today - the Christian life, the life of faith being a journey, not a place where we arrive - if what we mean by that is “we are not leaving, not moving, not changing in any way”. I love the phrase from the hymn, “Lead On O Cloud of Presence”, “the journey is our home”

When I was ordained I knew that while I had arrived at that milestone, after a journey of about 7 years, it was just a momentary pause because I had a lifetime of growth, change and discernment ahead as I followed my calling. .

In terms of the human journey we never arrive, if we expect arrival to mean that we are done. Perhaps the birth of a baby is a point of arrival but while the pregnancy may be over the work of parenthood is just beginning. I love the tv commercial where the first time mom has to make sure that everyone who holds the baby is super, super, clean but by the time the second child is born she is fine with handing that baby to a greasy auto mechanic while she gets something out of her purse. You spend hours building one of those swing and slide sets and then pass it on to another family to enjoy when yours have outgrown it.

Name changes are part and parcel of this journey. Sometimes people have to almost force their family and friends to call them by a more grown up name than that which they were called in childhood. We know names are important and, by the way that little ditty we recited in elementary school that went: “sticks stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” - ISN’T True, and we knew it! Name calling can hurt very much but, conversely, “good” name calling, can build up and praise and empower.

Biblical names are often filled with meaning. The change from Abram to Abraham is more than just adding a letter or two; likewise the change from Sarai to Sarah involves more than spelling. Jesus renamed Simon to Peter - he became “Rocky” and, back then, the pun WAS intended.

Even though Abram and Sari were part of a nomadic people, the tribe, the group was of crucial importance - to ask someone to pick up stakes, literally, and journey, more or less alone, into the unknown, would have been very frightening, and very foolhardy to most.

While we live in a time of seemingly unprecedented change, I am sure that there were other times of great change - we now call them revolutions - such as the “industrial revolution”. What we must never forget is that as long as we are alive we are not stopping here - we are on our way somewhere else - and this is just as true of communities and communities of faith as it is of individuals and families.

Here at Avon United we have been on a journey of faith. Those of you who have been here for 40 or 50 years or more can tell of previous amalgamations and church closure and attempts to go in various directions. You can tell me of the temporary detours and the permanent road closures and how you found life and community in ways and places you had not originally envisioned, planned, or even initially wanted. You can all tell me about the last five years and how it was that your journeyed to this place of becoming a new family of faith, Avon United Church.

Yes, you could and you should. Who you were has made you who you are, yet, as I have said before, we are not finished. We have not arrived at that place where we can say, “change is over, we can predict stability for the next 50 years.” With every change our collective journey changes and we must be more intentional -less automatic. Each day take some time to think about your journey of faith.

Lent is often seen as a time of intentional journeying. If you are of the mind to give up something for Lent do it so that you can do something else. If you are giving up junk food, take the money and give it to the food bank or to the Mission and Service Fund. If you are giving up an hour of television, spend that hour re-connecting with your spouse, with your teenager or sit on the floor with your young children and help them with their dolls, or their trucks or cuddle up and read a book together.

This is the day that Gos has made. Let us rejoice and see it for what it is, a valuable day on a journey of faith.


1995- 2015 The Rev. Beth W. Johnston.

For some good stuff go to:
journeywithjesus.net-a weekly webzine for the global church

The United Church has a great online bookstore and here is the link. If you live in Canada they will even send you a book display for your event and people who dont get to see that many books at once can have a ball!

Links to My Other Pages at this Site

  • Sermon Ideas 4U Sermon Archive Site!
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  • The Kings United Pastoral Charge
  • Who is Beth Johnston
  • An Anniversary/Memorial Service Sermon
  • A Sermon for a "Covenanting Service"
  • Sermon on Teenage Suicide
  • Story Page (Called 'Q')
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  • A Teaching Communion Service