Are you doing God’s will? What does it look like? How did you figure out that what you are doing is God’s will? Was there a moment, a feeling, a sense, a step, a decision you made? Or was it something else? Maybe it's something that makes us feel comfortable or good, that might be the will of God- right? Or maybe it’s just something we’ve always done, so continuing it must be Gods will because no one else has offered to help or to take it over from us. In my own story as a young adult, I was very fixated on planning my next step. The surprise was always how little of my planning panned out the way I assumed it would. Rather, what did happen was profoundly more creative, holistic, beautiful, and natural. There is a difference between planning and doing. When we plan we often think of ways to get to where we want to, right? We think of all the people we need to make friends with, learn from, and be seen with. We start to go through our vast bank of experiences and start listing all the big names we are associated with, in an attempt to tell others that we are qualified and have been taught well. However if we just rest on who we know rather than what we know, things start to get hard when it comes to following Jesus. For us, today, following Jesus is about our action rather than status in doing the will of God.
But surely status brings with it access and ability, and you would be right to point that out. Sure, it does. Money, power, and status all bring an ability to do more, which is always partnered with an obligation to actually do it. Status alone does not give people anymore authority in our world because we respect people based on their actions. Think of our politicians, mentors, respected friends, those holy sages in our lives. They are people, when we unpack all of their humanity, who have at their core a deep desire to do what it is they say they will do. They are both ablaze with conviction and ability, and in the best of worlds know how to use their position to move the systems of this world. The Gospel of Mark unveiled that reality for us today when in the midst of Jesus rocking the boat again with his outlandish sayings, we see people in authority trying to silence him. Its like suddenly Jesus had a whole PR company- in the people of his family and the authorities- trying to control what it is he was saying. Rather than hearing what Jesus was trying to tell them, they were trying to silence him. Remember, friends, we are still only three chapters into Mark and Jesus is making waves all over the place, in a time when waves in society were not welcome. All the aspects of Mark's gospel are important because in the details, we start to see the trajectory of where we are headed- which is to the Cross. The writing is literally on the wall. So what is the will of God?
As Christians, we travel a road with Jesus, which is represented here in the aisle of our church. I give thanks that the carpet is uneven in places and the pews aren’t all straight, because it reminds me of the realness of life marked in baptism and eucharist- death and resurrection. This path, one which we practice every sunday here at 10:30, is one which can lend itself to status and power. Not long ago in our shared social history, being Christian was the way you got connected in our larger society. Indeed even today faith is used as the ultimate test for elected office and political campaigns- do they believe what we do?. Our faith has been used as a weapon against indigenous people, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, to colonizer and many many more, all because we felt it was God’s will. We thought it was God’s will that Indigenous people have names like ours and learn to talk and pray like us, that LGBTQ+ people be sent for therapies and reconditioning. That immigrants are welcome, as long as they pray like us, all of which comes from our understanding of what is God’s will via the laws found in our scriptures. In the passage just before our reading from Mark, we are reminded that if we take the laws of God as the ultimate marker in the sand we lose the humanity that Jesus presents to us throughout this mornings Gospel. This humanity is represented on the road of faith we all walk, born to us in baptism, re-presented in the eucharist, and repeated until the day in which we meet Jesus in the life hereafter. This path will be different for each of us, with one unifying quality shared among us all. This path we walk with Jesus is one of action, not status.
Yes, life together in community is about action not just status. But how do we know and live into that action? I believe it's all about benedictine obeideince, which is about listening with the inner ear of your heart to what it is that we are being called into. In the cycle of stability, obeideince, and conversion of life, there is a playful dance of active discernement- asking the questions of our lives to seek understanding and direction into what we are called to be. What we are all called to be is active participants in the inbreaking kingdom of God in our time. We are called to be active participants, and that active action requires us to discern together what it is we are called to do. While we will not get clarity overnight, we trust- just as the crowds surrounding Jesus this morning Gospel, that the great mystery before us in the person of Christ and his mission on earth will become known when it is time. So how can we practice listening to our inner ears to discern our role in the inbreaking of God's Kingdom?
Here are a few of the many ways we can continue that work among us today:
- Pray for this parish, pray for each other, pray for our mission to go and make disciples of all nations. Let this be your daily prayer, as you rise and go to sleep. Try saying the Lord's prayer, then enter into silence. As the silence envelops you- start naming this parish and its members. Pray for yourself. Pray for me, as I continue to pray for you. Pray that God reveals your role in the kingdom work ahead of us.
- Share with one another what prayer is speaking to you, in safe and consensual ways. This is not a contest about greatest awareness, so pay attention to the nudgings or the silences. God can reveal herself in questions, just like she can in statements. Lavish yourself in the questions and share them with me and the community. What is prayer saying to you?
- Practice your trust in the mystery of Jesus’s call to us which is unveiled in the Eucharist. Make the eucharist the heartbeat, prayer, and purpose of your life. In the bread and wine of the Eucharist we feed on Jesus, in order to be more like him in the world around us. Bring your doubts, your joys, your questions, your aches, and pain to this table, and receive from it the balm your soul was made for. Practice a Eucharistic life, where there is room for everyone.
We are not called into this family of Jesus by accident, we are here for a purpose which is to use our lives as change agents for the in breaking of the kingdom of God. Our lives are meant for action, rather than control, action which brings forth the life changing kingdom of God which we feel and know here in this place. So church, pray, share, and practice lean into the questions of life which call from us our greatest gifts for the world’s greatest needs. Maybe its teaching a bible study, joining the neighbourhood ministry, or something else. God’s will is calling us to action this morning: How are you going to respond?