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A voice in the night. A treasure in clay jars. A withered hand. Questions about the sabbath. Church of the Cross in a time of transition and a can of Coca Cola. Welcome to the season of Pentecost.

           If you are wondering what today’s readings and a can of Coca Cola have to do with you or with Church of the Cross, I invite your curiosity.  As we enter a time of transition there are questions and concerns on our hearts and minds.  We are blest with two gifted, caring and faithful pastors in Lyle and Lyndon.  Lyle is transitioning to retirement.  In the coming months we will be honouring his 23 years of ministry at this church.  Lyndon will continue to bless us with pastoral care and leadership into our future.  And, the Holy Spirit will be awakening, comforting, inspiring each of us to listen to the voice of Creator day and night.

           In his Holy Trinity sermon last Sunday, Pastor Lyndon spoke about the Holy Spirit, how it is like an unpredictable wind. This holy wind can be both reassuring as well as unsettling at times.  He reminded us how the Spirit moves in our community. Sometimes the Spirit tests us. At other times it grounds us in our relationship with Creator and one another. We are a welcoming and diverse community.  We value and listen to Creator and each other. We serve Creator in many different ways.

Samuel is the story of a young boy dedicated to Creator’s service early in his life.  It is while serving the priest Eli, that Samuel hears a voice in the night calling to him.  At first, he thinks it is Eli calling.  Finally, Eli realizes it is the voice of Creator. Samuel returns to his bed and opens his ears and heart to the divine voice.

           Like young Samuel who responds with “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” Creator is calling us to listen.  Listening takes patience and attention.  To grow personally and as the body of Christ, listen, we must.  Listen carefully to each other.  Listen often for the voice of Creator. This will keep us mindful of the treasure we hold in our clay jars!  Listening to each other will open up fresh opportunities for being Church of the Cross.

           Like the early Church, we who make up this community, possess a priceless treasure.  We possess the treasure of Creator’s love revealed in Jesus.  This love treasure is full of grace, loving kindness, forgiveness, compassion, respect and courage.  This treasure was given to us in our baptism.  This treasure is reaffirmed at this holy table week after week.  This treasure is ours as the church in our day. We may be clay jars, but our open, gracious, generous hearts are anything but clay. Our lives are continually transformed by the love of Creator. Here we gather expressing love for Creator, for one another and for the community around us. The power of Creator’s loving presence will carry us through this season of transition.

           Yet, every transition has potential dangers and pitfalls.  Anxiety, uncertainty, doubt and misunderstandings can cause us to lose sight of what Creator is calling us to be.  The challenge will be to keep our hearts open.  The challenge will be to keep listening to our Creator.  The challenge will be to listen carefully and compassionately to one another.  The challenge will be to continually remember we are one body with many members.

           Transitions in faith communities are nothing new.  We are reminded of this in today’s Gospel.  We are reminded how clinging to tradition and to what we’re used to, can get in the way of serving Creator. How to observe the Sabbath had become quite complicated over time.  Jesus offers a fresh perspective.

One sabbath day, Jesus and his disciples were walking through a field of ripening grain. They were hungry.  They picked some grain and ate it.  This did not go unnoticed.  The guardians of customs and traditions objected to this picking and eating on the sabbath.  They were picky about picking on the sabbath.  Jesus and his team were caught grain in hand and mouth!  Work on the sabbath was just not right. Harvesting was work.  The command to simply keep a day of rest was a great gift from Creator.  How then should it be kept? What was the real purpose of the Sabbath?  

Jesus turns the table on tradition and custom.  He declares that the Sabbath was made for human beings, not human beings for the Sabbath.  Jesus declares who the Sabbath is for and what it is for.  The Sabbath is a gift.  It is meant to be a pause, a time of refreshment.  Like the old Coca Cola slogan, the Sabbath is meant to be the pause that refreshes.  And the Gospel of Jesus?  Well, its the real thing!

           The story doesn’t end there.  The drama shifts inside the local synagogue where Jesus finds a man with a withered, useless hand.  His condition put this man at a social and economic disadvantage.  It would have been hard for him to find work.  He faced a life of poverty and begging.  Then Jesus calls him out of his withered predicament.  Jesus is not indifferent to the man’s suffering. Jesus is not indifferent to the suffering we see in today’s world.  He asks those assembled what they think is the right thing to do for this man. “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?”  Jesus is looking for compassion but encounters silence.  Jesus is saddened by the presence of hard hearts.  But his warm heart rises to the occasion and the withered hand is made whole. 

That is what love does.  Love does no harm.  Love heals.  Love takes what we are afraid of, takes what is broken, takes what is withered and offers us healing. This is good news as we confront a world of suffering! We are called to act with compassion.  We have the Sabbath as a gift to refresh our energy to be healers and helpers. The harms and sufferings of the world are in need of Creator’s love that has been poured into our hearts.

           Jesus invites us into the sanctuary of his life and his love, just as we are.  He enters this community to be with us, just as we are.  Jesus sends the Spirit’s wild winds and calm breezes to us, every Sabbath, every day.

           A voice in the night. A treasure in clay jars. A withered hand healed. Questions about the sabbath. Church of the Cross in a season of transition and a pause that refreshes.

           If I have learned anything from living 74 years with the grace, mercy and love of Jesus it’s that you can never go wrong when you you chose life and love on a sabbath or any other day of the year.  Keep on listening! Keep on loving one another! Keep an open heart! Keep on trusting that the love and life we are given is enough, we are enough and together we will continue to serve the risen Jesus. We will express our gratitude and thanks to Pastor Lyle for his ministry.  We will bless his retirement. We will continue to serve Creator together with Pastor Lyndon and the whole Church, into the future awaiting Church of the Cross.

May it be so.