Genesis 12: 1,2; John 3:16,17Romans 4: 3,13
I read the following on the internet (The sideshow, August 29, 2012): “A woman who was reported missing from an Icelandic tour unwittingly joined a search for herself. According to the Reykjavik Grapevine, a woman described as “…. about 160cm, in dark clothing and speaks English well” was listed as missing Saturday near the Eldgjá volcanic canyon in southern Iceland. The search continued through the weekend with reports saying she got off a tour bus and never returned. It turns out the woman merely changed clothes during the bus stop, and after she returned, those on the bus didn’t recognize her. When the description of the “missing” woman was circulated, apparently the lady who changed her outfit didn’t recognize the description of herself. So she joined the search party. About 50 people searched the area in vehicles and on foot, and a helicopter was ready to assist. Eventually it occurred to the “missing” woman that she could very well be the person everyone was looking for, and she promptly reported herself as safe and sound to police. The search was called off early Sunday morning. Friends, the woman on vacation in Iceland didn’t recognize the description of herself. She went looking for someone others thought she was. Or wasn’t that others didn’t recognize her.
There is a rumor that Phil Jackson may become the coach for the New York Knicks. This is what the wall Street Journal wrote (march 11, 2014 D6):” …if Phil Jackson wanted to he could make the Knicks wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. He could make them wait even when-and if-he takes the job. He could go to voicemail even as they pay him. Because he could. Because they need so badly the credibility he offers. ..Phil Jackson has the best type of leverage. He should use it. He could tell the Knicks he intends to be around or be around a little. He could coach never or a lot or a little. He could coach just in April…He should be creative, humorous with his asks. He could handpick the audience every night at Madison Square Garden. He could organize a Knicks game each season that is played entirely before cats. He could ask for a chauffeured blimp…He could get these things because he is Phil Jackson. Phil Jackson knows he is. He knows because he is a reflective guy. He knows what he can do and so does everyone else. As unclear as the vacationer and her travel companion in Iceland were, that is how clear Phil Jackson and everyone else are about who Phil Jackson is. The apostle Paul writes a letter to the Romans. As we have seen his audience is made up of different people. Some are Jews who live in Rome. Some are new Roman Christians. The first group can claim Abraham as an ancestor. The other can claim to live in the capital of a huge powerful empire. What a difference in the way these young Christians see themselves. Both are proud of what they bring to the table. It was quite a task for Paul to address both groups.
Talking about Abraham. Childless Abraham the old man gets the call to leave his land and become the father of a whole new nation in a new Promised Land. What a complete change of identity, what a totally way of seeing himself this is for Abraham. Friends, as Christians we are supposed to have a clear identity. We are supposed to be saved people and act like saved people. This is what John 3: 16 and 17 say so clearly. We are forever renewed by our faith. But it turns out there are all kinds of ways to feel like and be a Christian. There is the way we were a Christian when we were in Sunday school. There is the way we were a Christian in adolescence. There is the way we were a Christians in our twenties and our thirties and forties etc. It changes with our life experience, it changes with what people teach us, the changes with what we read or the sermons we hear. But the pieces of our past Christian life always stay with us. Part of us will always be that kid in Sunday School. Part of us will always be that new Christian or that doubting college student. It’s like all those pieces of who we were make us a colorful, jagged mosaic or a modern stained glass window. Light breaks through the pieces in different ways. But the pieces are all fused together. They make the stained glass window of our personal life together. Maybe we could say the same about the Church year. This is what occurred to me as I thought about this text. When we are in Advent we are Christians who anticipate and then celebrate at Christmas when we are in party mode. At Epiphany we look for insight. On Transfiguration Sunday we are in awe of the possibility of transformation. During Lent we are following the painful journey Jesus needs to make. It is the time that we see the vulnerable Jesus, the Jesus full of dread. This is when we become companions, or at least when we are supposed to be. We go with Jesus on the road and we ask ourselves what the suffering of Jesus means for us? At the same time it reminds that we must be companions on the road for others who suffer. Friends, the identity of the Christian at Lent is that of one who humbly and compassionately accompanies. May we be worthy companions on the journey. Thanks be to God.