Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sermon: 1st Wednesday in Lent, "A Sign"

Photo by author, taken in Joppa, Israel June 2014
Meditation for Feb. 25, 2015: 
12:15 service
First Wednesday in Lent
The Rev. Vicki K. Hesse
St. Philip’s In The Hills, Tucson, AZ
Jonah 3:1-10 and Luke 11:29-32
I speak to you in the name of one God:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

What sign is God offering you, today?

Last Saturday, a group from St. Philip’s went on a “Desert Meditation.” We followed the “Romero Ruins” trail in Catalina State Park and took two hours to complete it.  It was really more of a “meditation” than a “hike.”

The trail through the Romero Ruins was accompanied by several signs along the way, explaining such things as the “ball park” that the Hohokam people used for recreation, or describing how the trash piles became hills from which the archeologists could learn about the peoples’ diet, culture, lifestyle. We paused at each of the signs, wondering about various signs that God offers along our own life’s trail. 

I would like to suggest that, given our readings about the sign of Jonah, that we reflect on
What sign is God offering you, today?

We heard the pivotal moment in the story of Jonah when God changes God’s mind about the destruction of Nineveh after the king himself covered himself in sackcloth and ashes.  That king,  himself, proclaimed “who knows? God may relent and change God’s mind, and turn away from anger…”  In this sense of humility to something greater than himself, the king proclaims the grace that God’s mercy is more than he can offer.
What sign is God offering you, today?

Second, we heard from Luke how Jesus reframes the peoples’ demands for a “sign” when Jesus himself is the sign – like the sign of Jonah was to the people of Nineveh. 
Jesus reminds the people of the story from 1Kings. The queen of the south, or Queen of Sheba, went to visit King Solomon and was convinced of the wisdom of God given *that* king.
She condemned her people because they had a God that was even greater than Solomon, but they did not recognize that God. 
Similarly, as we heard in Luke’s gospel, the people of Jesus’ time did not recognize God’s sign in Jesus. God offered Jesus as a sign.
What sign is God offering you, today?

In Thomas Merton’s book, The Sign of Jonas, he writes some very profound reflections about Jonah and his journey:
“…Receive, O monk, the holy truth concerning this thing called death. Know that there is in each person a deep will, potentially committed to freedom or captivity, ready to consent to life, born consenting to death, turned inside out, swallowed by its own self, prisoner of itself like Jonas in the whale…”
What sign is God offering you, today?

Merton’s reflection reminds us of the truth of death which, printed in the heart of every person, leads one to look for the sign of Jonas the prophet.  While Jonas swims in the heart of the sea, we hope for the whale to save him, but it is our whale that must die, so that Jonas may live.
Today, these stories remind us to “get our inner Jonas out of the whale” and move into the clear, busy with our proclamation of God’s love, clothed and in our right mind, free, and holy and walking on the shore.
What sign is God offering you, today?

At this beginning of Lent, today we are reminded of God’s peace that finds us there, standing in front of Jesus, God’s true sign of Love.
Today, may we respond to God’s sign, so that we may walk in clarity, by the light of the stars, knowing that we, too, will be raised to God’s heavenly country.
What sign is God offering you, today?

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