St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church

Vancouver, B.C.

Phone: 604-877-1788

E-mail: office@stmarymags.ca


The Anglican Parish of St. Mary Magdalene

2950 Laurel Street at West 14th Avenue

Vancouver, BC, V5Z  3T3

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Diocese of New Westminster Anglican Church of Canada

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Sermon

January 24th Epiphany 3, 2021     John Marsh


Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 62:5-12; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20

It was a time of a call…


It was a time of interviews, a decision made, an invitation offered, and now an announcement…


It seems the times they are a changin – thank you Bob – that every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end¹, a chapter ends, another, hopefully, begins…


It’s time…

~

I have seldom baptised an adult; one of the few times I prepared an adult for baptism, part way through the preparation, the candidate said: “You know, I’m starting to think that you’re out of your mind!” I replied, saying, “You don’t know how close you are to the truth.”


Two weeks ago, we read the gospel narrative relating the appearance of John the Baptist preaching a baptism of repentance and of the subsequent baptism of Jesus. (see Mark 1:4-11) Today we read:


Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."
Mark 1:14-15


As I said two weeks ago, repentance, in Greek ‘metanoia’, means ‘going beyond your usual mind’ in both an intellectual and an existential sense. Put more colloquially, it means ‘going out of your mind’…


To reiterate, to repent is a ‘going out of your mind’, going beyond the usual way however usual is defined and expressed, opening to the way of Yeshua which is going beyond, embracing the way of call, calls of compassion, hospitality and justice making, calls which disrupt and deconstruct any and all status quo’s; a ‘going out of your mind’ which opens to depths of chaotic possibility – the deep over which ruach (spirit breath wind) – hovers – vibrates – broods ­– enticing life, creation, our life. (see Genesis 1:1-2)


And so, as one out of his mind – honesty lures my confession – I want to disrupt, to deconstruct the status quo whatever that may be, jamming open a space where there is no where to lay one’s head, attending to how we speak, to how we act, what we do...


As followers of Yeshua from Nazareth – Can anything good come from Nazareth? Truth to tell, beware those other, they tend to disturb things – we are called, invited, into an alternative mind and an alternative way of living…


As followers of the way of Yeshua, we are baptised into spirit, ruach hovering over, vibrating, stirring within, perhaps drawing forth an alternative manner of speech and living…


It is this alterity, this otherness, which undergirds, frames the call within today’s gospel:


Follow me and I will make you fish for people.                                                                                                      Mark 1:17


To appreciate this alterity stirring deeply within convention – which is why disturbance is so important – we need to know that life on the Galilean lake was not one of pastoral perfection but one of collapse, a powerful symbol of the corrosive and destructive aspects of empire. ² Yeshua was inviting Simon and Andrew to actively participate in, not just affirm or witness, the coming near, unfolding’s of god’s alternative reign – beginning immediately. They were not simply invited to a religious conversion, affirming a series of confessional, credal propositions; they were invited by one ‘out his mind’ to go beyond the limits of their minds (repentance), to go beyond the limits of empires definitions and risk living life differently, risking making real the haunting dream of god’s reign...


Of course, that raises a question - How so?


As Yeshua taught, god’s concern, if we are being biblical – I pray you read the bible carefully, deeply – is not heaven; god’s concern is not simply spiritual and/or religious matters; god’s concern is creation, the way life, mundane, ordinary life, is lived in the world; god’s concern is the political, economic, and social agenda of life lived anew. God’s haunting, spectral desire is for all to hear and participate in overturning’s (healing) of imperial disorder by the renewed utilization of one’s resources and opportunities, which means your resources, whatever they may be.


Yeshua’s short life was expressive of a mission in which meals and food mattered, forgiveness mattered, compassion mattered, justice mattered, healing and restoration mattered. Yeshua’s short life kairologically, hauntingly, calls out to our life. His teaching in parables and aphorisms, his healing, the example of his living and forgiving were expressive of one living and empowering others to live god’s non-violent dream of shalom.


To follow Yeshua is to ‘go out of your mind’ by loving god and neighbour, by risking change, perhaps changing the world and by inviting others, to, just possibly, do the same.


So, there it is: an invitation, a kairological call, to go beyond the limits of our minds, to embrace good news of the kingdom of god yet to come, yet, perhaps, drawing near…


It all sounds well and good, yet it would be fair to say that not all heard or hear Yeshua’s call; of those who heard (hear) a call not all accepted; and of those who accept not all follow through…


But you, if we dare the call, if you risk the depths, the blowing of ‘spirit wind’ – winds of change – perhaps we will recognize that we live within the confluence of a spectral haunting, hope calling, and the quotidian sequential unfolding of everyday…


We live within the confluence of kairos and chronos, within an intermingling, an intertwining, of the kariological and the chronological, within the depth of every beginning coming from some other beginning’s end, from within the sounding of the hours as time marches on – as it does – and hopes, dreams, and promises astir, luring, within times beat…


We live within our hopes of the yet to come and the pressing lures of time marching on and, each without the other is emptied with hope and call calcified…


But you, if we dare the call, if you risk the depths, the blowing of ‘spirit wind’ – the winds of change – if we risk the currents, the undercurrents, of confluence, the chaotic intermingling of kairos and chronos, perhaps you will, in the words of the evangelist Tony Campolo, ‘…testify, everybody has a testimony within them’.


And so, it’s time, it’s time to testify…


Time to decide, to reaffirm, renew, decisions past made, opening to decisions yet to come, perhaps pressing in…


Now is the time, ever listening to kariological calls, hopes, and dreams, to risk attempts to make real, as real as can be, promises astir within chronological sequence…


Now is the time, ever listening to, for, something to come, messianic calls of justice and freedom, of hospitality and compassion, to risk attempts to make real, as real as is possible, neighbourhood possibilities, communal confessions, local lures…


Now is the time, haunted by a reign, a reign of god yet to come, always coming, to risk hope’s constructions…

Truth to tell, faith, hope, and love stir within kairos, within calls, within something enlivening, pressing in, something blowing in the wind, something leavening new beginnings emerging from some other beginning’s end…


Now is the time, taking seriously this yet to come, a community yet to come, a community haunting, honouring where we’ve been yet striking outwards and onwards; it’s not time to build citadels of certainty but to set out, leaving behind one’s nets reimagining fishing, honouring the lure, the hope, faith…


Now is the time for you to testify that are you are out of your mind, beyond the confines of your usual mind, beyond the confines of convention…


Truth to tell, I want you to testify with your life that you will refuse, that you will question the accepted script, the expected discourse, question any and all accepted or expected scripts, that we will refuse to construct ‘breakwaters of the soul’, that we will risk speaking of compassion, justice and right relations in a world caught up in endless justification and rationalization…


Now is the time for you to testify, in word and deed, that you will walk an alternative path, another way, in which ‘the road less travelled’ is, perhaps, a path before all with or without the name of god, with or without religion, that walking the path is more important than the shoes or garments one walks in…


I want us to testify, in word and deed, to the ‘tehomic’ depth of impossible possibility within life, as ruach

theopoetically hovers over creation and broods within…


I want you to testify and, in the spirit of St Francis, if necessary, use words…


 ¹ From the song ‘Closing Time’ by the band Semisonic.

 ² The collapse of the lake economy has been referred to the ‘Romanization of Galilee’ which refers to ever increasing tax burdens, crushing pleasant life on the lake to pay for massive building campaigns. In Galilee, the Tetrarch Herod Antipas, was building his capital city of Tiberius, named, in attempt to curry favour, in honour of the emperor.