New chapter, ancient story, same thread — Easter 6: Living by Faith — Senior Blessing Sunday
Galatians 1:13-17, 2:11-2
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Graduations, milestones, turning over a page, chapters in life, pivotal moments, all of these words and phrases have become a part of our lives to articulate a moment in time when transition and change occurs.
We recognize the milestone of graduation today. We mark all kinds of milestones. They range from a child’s first steps, riding a bike, driving, first job,to personal achievements, degrees, age and kinds of relationships. We often think of these with positive emotions. Other pivotal moments such as accidents, illness, deaths aren’t generally our choice and can be unwelcome experiences. This pandemic has been unwelcome and we describe life accordingly, like pre-pandemic.
Our passage in Galatians has Paul speaking of a pivotal moment in his life, pre- and post- Jesus encounter. This encounter, which is recorded in Acts 9, called him to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles. This was such a profound experience that his name changed from Saul to Paul, marking the change in him.
Paul had always been a man of faith. He grew up and was zealous in his Judaic faith, to the point of violently persecuting Jesus followers. His personal encounter with Jesus was so profound that he turned from persecuting to proclaiming. Paul didn’t change in how he passionately lived out his faith, it just changed focus.
To use Jesus’ imagery of the kingdom of God being like a mustard seed, the seed of faith that had already taken root within Paul began drinking from new water, intermingling his roots with Jesus’ love for the Gentiles, casting branches that offered shade and sustenance for others on the journey.
Or how about yeast? The active organism of Jesus’ grace and faithfulness to all, including the Gentiles, began to raise and bubble up Paul’s faith permeating him and spreading to others.
In each of these images there are more elements than just the seed and yeast, for they by themselves don’t produce anything. It is as they encounter soil, sun, food, air, and time, does growth occur.
In our lives, we encounter the world around us, the created order as well as our own created order, if you know what I mean. We each have our own personalities, rhythms, meanings, relationships, from which and through which we take in the world. These are active elements that shape who we are.
Faith in God is one of those active elements.
All of these impact how grounded we are or how active the leaven is in our being. They influence how we weather the events of life. So when our world gets rocked by an unexpected death or illness, or we face a vocational shift, or we are seeking meaning in life, what and who we have around us help provide a rutter, a leavening agent, or grounds us just enough to keep us from falling.
No matter what place in life we are at, we are always choosing what matters, relationships, faith, where we spend our time, all influence our journey.
And so, I leave us all with a few questions to lean into:
What elements of your life can you identify that root you in God’s beloved creation?
What hopes and promises are you absorbing from your environment that awaken your soul to the radical love of Jesus?
How do mysteries and wonders of the Spirit aerate your internal soul?
May the love of God and fellowship of humanity help sustain us for the milestones we encounter.
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