New Beginnings In Galilee

New Beginnings in Galilee
{ John 4:12-17}
 
Unless you live in Butler County,, in western Pennsylvania, the place from which I hail & where most of my father’s family still reside, you know that change is constant.  While the good folks, God bless their solid,  might seem immune to change  in that small town located just north of Pittsburgh,  change happens there, too.  Believe me, I’ve been gone from my home  for many years now & when I make my yearly sojourn back to Butler I see change occurring even in that tiny microcosm of society.
 
Some of these changes in my hometown are good, but others are causes for mourning.  When I returned to Butler for a visit a few summers back I was dismayed to learn that the local downtown ” grease pit”{ Otherwise known as The Hot Dog Shop} on Main Street in Butler  closed.  This small & family-owned eatery had been a landmark establishment in downtown Butler’s society such as it was for decades.  After I moved to Florida, my Uncle Joe & I would always reserve one morning during my visit home for a lazy brunch of tasty, artery-clogging  brunch served with a smile while sitting  in booths covered with cheap plastic. In addition to being a longstanding tradition in Butler,  also had become a  place at which my favorite uncle & I would spend some quality time together.  When he informed me that The Hot Dog Shop had closed,  I was crushed.  Many in Butler  sorely felt the loss  of one of the downtown landmarks, but the owners had their reasons for closing this establishment.
 
What does my hometown’s resistance to change  have in common with today’s Gospel lesson? Plenty. This is where our Lord, Jesus Christ, left His hometown of Nazareth & began His ministry in Galilee.  Scripture clearly says that this is when ” …He left Nazareth and made His home in Capernaum by the sea…”
 
Look again at the subject and the verb. He left. Scripture doesn’t say anything else regarding Christ’s  leaving His hometown, but this is a pivotal turn in the story of His ministry on Earth.  If He had not left Nazareth,  He would have not gone to Galilee, where He was to live out what the prophets predicted”…on the road by the sea, accross the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people who sat in darkness had seen a great light and for those who sat in the region of shadown and death light has dawned.”
 
Jesus was doing what God the Father  wished for Him to do. But since He shares our human nature, perhaps there was a tny bit of apprehension when He learned of John’s arrest & then moved to Galilee?
 
Change may be inevitable, but we humans are generally creatures of habit. Part of being a faithful Christian is remaining open to where God may ask us to go or what God  might ask us to do. 
 
M faith story does not involve a physical move inasmuch as it involves a move from one branch of the Christian family to another. In reretrospect, a physical relocation might have been a bit less heart-wrenching than  was my initial following  God’ s call to where I am today. I found The Episcopal Church after many years as a faithful Presbyterian.  When I realized the call towards The Episcopal Church was from God{ & therefore could no longer be ignored}  the moving process was painful. A baptized Presbyterian, I had been faithfully attending the same small church for  several years & along the way had built up many relationships with sister & brother Christians who are walking along that particular path. When I left, it felt as though a huge part of my very being had been severed & it took months for the scar tissue to form.  Ye the same God who sent the Son to live, die & be resurrected for the sake of humanity soon showed me that my right & proper spiritual home is The Episcopal Church. Although my first few month as an Episcopalian were filled with  angst, God very quickly showed me  that I always * was* an Episcopalian & that this wonderful Church of ours is where God wants me to spend the rest of my Earthly life.  If I had stayed in the comfort of my own version of ” Nazareth”, God’s Purpose for my Christian journey would have been further put on hold.
 
Katharine Jefferts-Schori, our Presiding Bishop & someone to whom I look up immensely as a woman of faith, wrote much about change  in her book_ A Wing & A Prayer. Bishop Katharine is no stranger to change, she writes about how she finally answered God’s call to ordination & her later call to consecration as a bishop.  Before  entering seminary, our Presiding Bishop had been an oceanographer, a career which she loved.  When she was asked if she would submit her name for consideration  for election  to be the next Bishop of Nevada, she did not think she was ” Bishop material”. She had never been a rector of a large parish, is a woman & a convert to The Episcopal Church.  But she listened to God & obliged when God called her to step out of her comfort zone & embrace the changes that would   affect her life as well as that of her husband, Richard & daughter, Kate.
 
 Bishop Katharine writes this in her book about change & the pain that change often brings:
 
” Practice resurrection. Live in open expectation of the new thing that God is doing…opening ourselves to the new thing  recognizing that the change it brings will cause some distress. But there is always more abundant life  on the other side of pain and grief that comes with change and growth.”
 
Change happens all the time. No one, even the good people of Butler, Pennsylvania, are immune to the winds of this change.  But we Christians need to recognize that change is  part of God’s Plan for all of us & that God will help us through the  pain associated with change.  Transitions of any sort are very potent reminders that GOD, not humanity, is in charge.
 
When each of us are called to leave te comfort & security that is our own Nazareth, it can be tempting to resist for fear of the unknown. Although life’s circumstances  change, God is forever faithful.  The same God Who saw the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt & provided for their needs  during their many years in the  wilderness is the same God  who will provide for us today.
 
In the Name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit, Amen

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Comments

  • Me  On 01/08/2010 at 7:10 pm

    Good points, I think I will definitely subscribe! I’ll go and read some more! What do you see the future of this being?

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