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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Living on the Edge

Thanks to Pastor Ben Adams for joining us on Sunday, and sharing his sermon below.
Readings were: Isaiah 62:1-5, Psalm 36:5-10, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, John 2:1-11 

Livin’ on the Edge

The wedding at Cana, a story that is known almost universally throughout the world.  Its one of those well known miracles, or signs as they are called in John.  And because this story has received such notoriety, it has put one of the smallest of towns, Cana, on the map.

It almost seems that Cana is some well known center of commerce and activity in Jesus’ time, but really instead of thinking of a city like Chicago, think more like the town of Adair, IL.  From my quick google search, this little town near the Iowa/Missouri border was the smallest town in Illinois with a population of 210.

That’s how we need to picture Cana.  A town that relatively few people would have ever been to let alone ever heard of. And of all places to begin his public ministry in John, Cana is the town that Jesus chooses.

You see, just like John the Baptist de-centralized the temple by baptizing people in the Jordan River, Jesus follows suit, performing his first of many signs at a wedding party far away from any capital or big city.

And that's just how Jesus was, never one to do the expected thing in the expected place, but rather Jesus was always found in the most unexpected of places doing miraculous things.

This has been a tough week for our world as there were several notable deaths.  One in particular that affected so many was the death of David Bowie.  Now I have to confess that outside of watching Labyrinth as kid at my babysitter’s house, I was fairly unacquainted with Bowie and the art that he created.

But after a week of touching and heartfelt tributes to Bowie I feel like I have started to see what it was about David Bowie that resonated with so many. One tribute in particular stood out to me.  This was posted by the Pastor of the Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Chicago. He said:
RIP David Bowie, a person on the edge. As a eulogy, this, which I just passed in, a book he is currently reading called, Player Piano:

Finnerty shook his head. "[A psychiatrist] would pull me back into the center, and I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center." He nodded. "Big, undreamed-of things - the people on the edge see them first."

Bowie was a man who was ahead of his time, racing to the edge of art, culture and innovation and giving us a glimpse of what it looks and sounds like.  I can’t help but make the connection to Jesus’s ministry in John where Jesus is literally going to the outskirts, the edges of his society and it is there where the most miraculous and unimaginable things were witnessed and experienced.

Another person that lived on the edge and gave us a glimpse of what he saw was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  It is fitting that we celebrate his life and impact this week, and like Jesus and David Bowie, our brother Martin was one who could not reside in the center and accept the way things were.

Dr. King was one to spark our imagination by relating to us what it is he saw out on the edge. And in Dr. King’s final speech he spoke to us about that promised land that he could see when no one else could. He said,

“God’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

God’s glory was revealed in the wedding at Cana, God’s glory was revealed in the art of David Bowie, God’s glory was revealed through Dr. King’s relentless pursuit of justice, and God’s glory continues to be revealed to us.

It is most certainly hard to see standing in the center, but when trust the promises of baptism, and open ourselves to the mystery of the true presence of Christ in our midst, all of a sudden our imagination is resurrected and there is nothing that can stop us from racing to that edge to see what lies beyond.

I have always felt that First Trinity is a place where I have been able to go to experience a church at the edge.  And just think about it, we’ve certainly enjoyed some wedding at Cana miracles ourselves whether it’s here in the community center or at Grace Place for the campus ministry Community Meals, it’s in those moments where no matter what, we always have enough food for everyone to have seconds and then some.  Alicia and Rene know what I’m talking about.

Jesus is calling us out of the center.  Jesus is calling us to imagine something that no one has ever dreamt of. David Bowie accepted that call, Dr. King accepted that call, and now is our chance to once again accept that call and go to that edge and dare to peek over into the mystery, living in the hope that God’s promise of resurrection awaits us.

So wherever that edge is for you, whether its the edge of the mountain top, the edge of a cliff, or the bottom of a valley, Christ is calling you, so go. And like Bowie and King, when you get back, let us know what you saw. Amen.

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