Becoming

(You may view video of this sermon here).

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.

For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Margaret began our first session of Becoming with these words from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the community of early Jesus followers in Corinth, which a city in Greece. Paul is writing this letter to teach and guide these folks about who it is they are becoming as a community of faith centered around the Way of Jesus.

Margaret shared these words as a way of saying that we have permission, and in fact we have commission – to grow and to mature in how we understand and experience God and ourselves and the values we seek to live out.

Then we led the youth in doing a ritual where you write down those things you have been taught about God and religion and yourselves that you realize you need to let go of in order to grow. After naming those things, writing them down, and having a chance to see what everyone wrote, we made a fire and burned them.

There are different times in our lives when it’s especially good to do this kind of thing to clear space for new spiritual growth. Growing into adulthood is one of them. But there are others.

And this would be a good exercise to do with adults here at the church – naming and burning what we have been taught about God and religion and ourselves that are keeping us from growing spiritually. Then focusing on allowing the growth of the live-giving, up-building, gracious things. There’s actually quite a bit from the curriculum we used with the youth that would be a great to adapt for adult faith formation.

Want to do a Becoming for adults?

Back to the teaching from Paul. Let’s look at this a little more closely.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.

He is saying we need to be willing to mature in how we speak and think and act and understand in our walks with God. Sometimes we can still be walking around as adults bits of a cartoon vision of God that we know intellectually isn’t true, but still haunts us.

This is what Paul says next:

For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. (He’s talking about a time to come that’s a time of completion or fullness, a full dawning of the self-revelation of God throughout creation, of which Christ was a kind of first spark).

For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, or enigmatically: the Greek work is ainigmati, from the Greek work for riddle, ainigma. Our understanding of the Divine, however foolish or wise we are, can be at best a riddling reflection of the truth. God is truly beyond human comprehension. We can know only in part.

Paul is saying that there will come a time of full and complete encounter with Divine reality. What’s so important here is that this is about encounter, it’s not about knowing something intellectually or dogmatically or doing things correctly.

Just this morning I was drinking my coffee and reading a little in a beautiful little book by Richard Wagamese, who is an Ojibwe, Canadian First Nation author. He wrote down a dialogue between himself and an elder woman:

He asks, “What is the point of prayer and meditation?”

The elder woman replies, “To bring you closer to the Great Mystery”

“So I can understand it?” He asks.

She replies, “No. So you can participate in it.”

This participation with the Divine Mystery comes through a process of encounter through Grace.

I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Our desire to know more, our discontent with easy answers about God and ourselves and the world, our curiosity, this can draw us towards a Holy You in a process that is just as much about knowing as it is about being more fully known.

One word for this process is Grace. Another word is Love.

This passage from Paul is all about Love. About Divine Love as the enduring reality that draws us to grow and mature in our capacity to love and to be loved.

Just before this passage is the piece of scripture we often hear read at weddings:

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not seek for things of its own; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

Everything else ends. Even spiritual gifts end. Knowledge ends. But love is an eternal and ongoing process in which we, by Grace, can participate.

Love is the litmus test of an authentic relationship and participation with God. Paul begins this teaching by saying

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

As Jesus put it, “By your fruits you shall be known.”

The fruits here are love, mercy, compassion, patience, courage, justice. And the Way of Jesus, if we pursue it in a sincere and humble way, produces these fruits, despite all the hypocrisy and abuse that’s too often been committed in Jesus’ name.

So, to all of us in our journeys of becoming, of maturing and wrestling and growing in our understanding of God and the world and ourselves, through all the riddling reflections we have to puzzle through, I pray a blessing that through our knowing more fully and being more fully known, we know and share the fruits of love, and mercy, compassion, courage, and justice.

Thanks be to God.

Photo by form PxHere

#Christianity #Mystery #PersonalGrowth #RichardWagamese

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