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Apr 15, 2018

Sermon Easter 3B - Mother Joan Retirement

Preacher: The Rev. Joan Mason, Rector

Series: Rector

Category: Weekly Sermon

Detail:

Easter 3B 

April 14-15, 2018

Christ Church, TR

I sent a letter to all parishioners this week announcing that I’m going to retire this summer.  Did everybody get it?  I’d like to talk to you a little about how I came to this decision.

God and I have this pattern.  When faced with a major decision in my life, God has always let me know what God wants me to do.  I will sense gentle pushings; so gentle that I usually ignore what I’m hearing since I often disagree with the direction or the timing.  But then God will make it very clear, usually coming at me with what I call a 2x4 – messages that cannot be missed or ignored, repeated over and over again in many different ways until I listen. This has happened a number of times in my spiritual life.  It happened with my call to be a priest, and to each church I served since ordination, including Christ Church.  God has been bringing the topic of retirement to me for some time.  I have ignored it, truly believing that I have more work that needs to be done. I was not ready. Well, this changed in a powerful way during Lent.  God came again with the 2x4 and let me know it is time now; not later.  This is a very recognizable pattern for me.  One of the 2x4’s was this.  I heard, “Joan, I need you out of the way.”  Now that sounds harsh.  It wasn’t.  It was very loving and gentle.  But it was clear, and was confirmed many times during Lent and Holy Week.  We can talk further today if you want to hear more about this decision and what this means for Christ Church.  I invite you to stay (come to DHall) after the service today, if you’d like.

It’s amazing to me that the Gospel assigned for today is a perfect lesson for what we are in the midst of this week.  The disciples are together sharing their stories about seeing the risen Jesus and He comes into their midst.  But instead they think it is a ghost.  They don’t recognize him, and they are startled and terrified.  Jesus very lovingly responds to them, saying, “Why are you frightened and doubtful?  It’s me!  Look at my hands and feet!” They start to feel a little joyful and a little hopeful, but still, they were disbelieving. They were quite slow to let this reality sink in. 

They started out in fellowship, sharing the story with each other, but when the story comes alive for them in the person of Jesus, they have trouble taking it all in.  He then shares a meal with them. I think this action centers them. Once he has their attention and they are feeling comfortable enough to really listen, Jesus then teaches them again about the Christian message so they can be sent out as witnesses of these things. 

At the beginning of this story, the disciples didn’t think Jesus was with them.  Yet He was, even though they didn’t recognize Him. They felt alone, uncertain.  After Jesus made Himself known, the disciples realized they didn’t need to be fearful or terrified.  Jesus prepared them for the next steps they would need to take.  They were not walking on the path alone.  And you are not either. 

If today or any day, you find yourself, like the disciples, feeling startled, or disbelieving, or maybe even a little afraid, then do what they did.  They walked with other Christians and shared the Good News of Jesus with each other.  They received the peace and comfort of Jesus, realizing He was right there with them, even when they didn’t recognize it. And they continued to learn about Jesus, so they could be continually guided by him and sent out to be his witnesses. 

My friends, we are on a journey.  At some time in the near future, our paths will diverge.  God is guiding us clearly and deliberately.  We do not need to worry or be fearful.  We do not have to figure out the way.  God already knows it.  All we have to do … is follow.

Mother Joan's Retirement Letter