Monday, June 25, 2012

Paul McCartney Turns 70!!!??

Can you believe that Paul McCartney turned 70 this week?
It seems incomprehensible to me.
I wasn’t a teenager when the Beatles came to America.
In fact, by the time I was born in 1973 they had already broken up.
But to me they will always be young.
The Beatles are meant to be young.
They are meant to be captured in a moment in time.
Up on stage singing, “Love me do.”
Leading a cultural revolution with the way they dress, sing, and act.
But now Sir Paul is 70 years old.
I guess we should celebrate because he outlived John and George.
He is one of only two left of that era.
But there is something to the idea that our heroes should stay young forever.
They shouldn’t grow up.
They shouldn’t die.
We hear a lot about storms of life.
How we pass through them, and survive.
But we don’t talk enough about life.
We don’t talk enough in the Church about the passing of time, about the transitions that make us who we are.
How do we mark the time?
One way is to see those around us grow and change.
One way we mark time is through the transitions of our lives.

I was thinking about Paul McCartney this week and how there will never again be something like the Beatles.
That was a once in a lifetime moment.
Music nowadays is so much more prolific, so much more diversified.
We are moving into uncharted territory.
The biggest selling album of 2011 was Adele’s album 21.
Consider that she sold 10 million copies, but there are over 300 million people in the United States.
Consider that the US population in 1967 was just over 198 million.
Sgt. Pepper sold 11 million albums in 1967 in the US.
Which means it reached a larger portion of the population.
Not to mention that Rock-n-Roll was in its infancy in 1967.
There weren’t all the genres and sub-genres of music there are today.
Beatle mania was about the moment in time.

The same is true for the Church.
There are moments of time that capture our imagination.
There are moments of transition, things that we look back on as once in a lifetime occurrences.
For example, there will never be another reformation.
That was about a specific moment in time, and it changed everything for the Church.
Today we have so many denominations that are part of the heritage that came out of the reformation.
We will never have another reformation, but we will have something else.
Some other thing will happen in the Church.
What will it be?

Today’s Gospel lesson is about transitions.
We have heard this Gospel before and we have heard the sermon about maintaining faith amongst the storms of our lives.
In fact, I have given that sermon on more than one occasion.
But today I want us to see the story from a slightly different angle.
The story is about the importance of the times of transitions.
How they prepare us for the next shore line.
Something was happening in life and ministry of Jesus.
At this point in Mark’s Gospel we are still in the beginning stages of that ministry.
Jesus disciples know that something is up but they are not sure exactly what is going on.
They don’t know that they are in the middle of some extraordinary changes.
The story of the calming of the storm happens in this transition time.
It happens as Jesus and his disciples are moving from the relative comfortable setting of Galilee to the “other side” of Gerasene.
The Gerasene side is unknown.
It is hostile territory.
I wonder if the disciples are feeling restless and uneasy about being taken to Gentile country.
The story of Jesus calming the sea is about Jesus assurance that even in this transition time, even in the uneasy moments Jesus is still in charge.
There is nothing to fear.

The Church is going through major tectonic shifts.
It is being driven by what Leonard Sweet has called the “perfect storm” of influence.
We live in a post-Christian, Post-modern, and post-human world.
Post-Christian because Christendom is dying, we no longer live in a world where we can expect that Christianity will be the dominant force in our culture or politics.
Post-modern because we no longer live in a world where we can assume that we all share the same truth.
And Post-human because we so much of our lives are technologically driven.
All of these things seem to mean that the Church is being less effective, and pushed to the margins.
I believe we are merely in a time of transition.
We are going from one shore to another.
And yes the seas are rocky, and we are unsure ourselves of what is coming up on the next shore line.
But we have Jesus in our boat.
Why should we be afraid?
Why should we worry or despair?
Instead in faith we should boldly set our sights on the mission that Jesus has given us.
We should boldly step out because on the shore is waiting a man who has been dealing with lots of demons and is waiting for Jesus.
(Just keep reading to the next story in Mark’s Gospel if you want to see what I am talking about.)
There are people in Concord.
There are people you all know in your life who want to know Jesus.
There are people waiting for Jesus to come.
And you and I my friends are the people that are called to bring Jesus to them.
We are the people who know that Jesus is in the boat with us, and we know that there is nothing to be afraid of.

This brings me back to Paul McCartney.
When I hear that Paul McCartney is 70 years old it makes me think of how old I am.
When Whitney Houston dies it makes me feel the pressures of my own mortality.
It makes me think of where I have been and where we have been.
It makes me nostalgic for other times in my life.
It reminds me that this is a time of transition for all of us, because we are always on our way somewhere.
We are going from being young to old.
But maybe the best transition is that we are growing in faith.
This is what St. Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians.
From being unknown to known, from dying to alive, sorrowful to rejoicing, from poor to rich, as having nothing to possessing everything.
We are experiencing the transition of living a life of fear to a life of faith.
As we age, as we experience more transitions in our lives we realize whatever we face we need not fear, because Jesus is in the boat with us.
It is not that the other shore is going to be calm always.
It is that on the other side there is a new task that we have to encounter, and the only way to get through that is to know that is trust and have faith that Jesus is with us.
And even if we forget it doesn’t matter because Jesus is there regardless of our ability to have faith.

This is why I am not worried about the Church.
I am not worried that is going to die or go away, because this is just a transition for us.
It is just preparing us for the mission that Jesus wants us to go to next.
This transition is getting us ready to step out of the boat on the other side with confidence that Jesus is always with us.

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