Rev. Andrew Cunnington
24th January 2016
Discovering The Fragile Mystic

It was on a very long ago holiday in North Wales that my daughter Emma and I decided to climb Mount Snowdon.

This was going to be a big ask for a little girl just turned 7 and although I told her that it was a very long way, she would not be deterred.

Her preparations for the climb were meticulous. Stuffing into her Minnie Mouse rucksack , three Thomas The tank Engine orange drinks, two packets of gummy bears and a change of hat. She elected to wear her bright pink Barbie Girl wellie boots.

As we drove to the Car Park at the foot of the mountain she glanced up anxiously

“Is it right up there Dad” …….”Yes right up there” …..”and is there a path and is it easy”…”Yes there’s a path and it’s the easiest one going”
“See you in ten minutes” said Alison under her breath as we set off for the climb.

“ Come on Dad, let’s get started” said Emma “ I’ll set the pace and you follow”

And we strode on together for nigh on 45 minutes when suddenly Emma came to a full stop and stared at the ever steepening path ahead…

“ I don’t think I can….” she began, looking at me desperately…

How shall we respond when God seems to put enormous challenges in our way.

We meet three characters in our readings and themes for today, who might help us.

First we read a bit about Moses. His life had been touched by God from when he was a baby and was rescued from the bulrushes. He survived an accusation of murder when he reacted violently to the plight of his people’s slavery. He had become a sheep farmer and was living a quiet life until God suddenly spoke to him through the flames of a burning bush. When he hears God’s voice, he wants to respond as best he can, for he knows his life has been blessed. But to be chosen as the one who will confront Pharaoh and lead his people away from slavery, well that’s a step too far.

Then we read a bit about Peter and his fishermen friends. They had been having a ball with Jesus by all accounts. More than likely they will have grown up with him for Capernaum and the region round about was a small region. They had come to see that there was something different about him. Something special. The water into wine episode for one thing and the healings at his hands and the stories from his lips. And now this catch of fish causes Peter to blurt out “Depart from me O lord, for I am a sinful man”.

What do you do, what do you say, when your best friend turns out to be your God?

In these days the church remembers the conversion of St Paul. He was a religious man, his whole life was founded upon faith in God, but in these early days he just could not accept that this Gospel of Jesus was the next step for him. It seemed that others were following a delusion and required of him to rethink everything he held dear.

So these three are stopped dead in their tracks.

Set my people free Moses . Become a fisher of men Peter. Give in to me Paul.

I don’t know what actually brings you here this morning. Maybe you have been coerced or tricked into coming, but I hope not. Maybe you’re clinging on to faith and wondering if the church can give you a firmer grip, or maybe it’s because like our three men, you know that in spite of the deal life has handed you, there is a blessing in believing and at least once in your live you have touched the hem of the garment of that blessing.

But where to now? What to do with this? When you’re stopped dead in your tracks.

“ I don’t think I can…” she began…..”It’s fine, you’ve done brilliantly”…”We nearly made it though didn’t we Dad” ……”Nearly but not quite”. We were of course still in the foothills.

If we’re honest we give faith their best shot but still feels they’ve fallen short.

In the end Moses agreed to go to Pharaoh as long as Aaron did the talking.

Peter and the others did leave everything and follow Jesus although I think they expected to be back that same day, not gone for three years.

Paul did allow himself to be led towards the light but it would be three years before he would be ready to go public on it.

Like them, if we are serious about our faith it won’t take us long to reach our limitations.

And then what do we do, when we are stopped dead in our tracks. because the truth is that no matter how hopeless we feel, he is calling us and he is always calling us on, always beckoning us forward.

Some listening to this will at some stage in their lives felt a specific calling to some form of ministry, some listening to this may be feeling that call now, even though it may seem as improbable as 7 year old Climbing Snowdon in Barbie Doll Wellies.

Or you may be feeling well, if there’s anything next for me, I can’t see what it is and where I am feels the only place that’s right.

It’s when we reach those points of being stopped in our tracks, that there is only one thing we can do and that is worship.

Worship the God who meets us in the ordinary situations of our lives yet who, we know is greater and mightier than any of those encounters. All we can do is offer our lives into his vastness.

No preconceived ideas. No intended outcomes, but to see worship as the space we faithfully step in to, where the bush still burns., the fish still fill the nets, then light shines blindingly and the mountain track laid out ahead of us, beckons us but is just to steep to climb.

That’s why you might come here. It’s the stained glass windows, the candles burning, the colour of robes and frontals, it’s the singing and the silence, it’s the organ’s thunder one moment and its tenderness the next, it’s the cup and the chalice, It’s the laughter and the tears. It’s what simple things point to. It’s what the ordinary can become, here in one another’s company.

Somewhere in all are surely echoes of where you are, and God’s desire to meet with you and lead you in spite of your inclination to stay where you are.

Dad and daughter sat in those foothills for quite a while until all the food was eaten and all the drink was drunk. And she skipped back to the car park “We nearly, nearly got to the top” she said.

That’s what worship and the discipleship that springs from it might be about…and seeing that the path as yet untrodden will always be before us and that it is an exciting prospect rather than something guilt ridden.

The following day we did reach the summit of course. We went up on the little train. Following Jesus is not as easy as that of course, but there is something to be said for letting him carry our lives a little bit more than we do.

How was church today..someone might ask you ….we nearly got to the top actually, nearly but not quite….

EXODUS 4: 10-16 LUKE 5:1-10 ACTS9