Coming to Peace with Imperfection _ Pastor April's Sermon - 5/22

Peanutscomics  

 

What is Lucy so upset about?

 

Things aren’t going the way she wants them to.

When things aren’t going perfectly - How do you think she feels about herself?

 

What helped her?

 

It’s a rare moment where Lucy realizes that what she really needs is LOVE.

She doesn’t need to be perfect.

 

Assignment –

What does it look like when we aren’t feeling love?

And when we are?

 

STORY OF SAUL – PAUL

 

So, this summer – we are beginning a series that we are calling the HERO’S JOURNEY –

And the series is mostly going to be an opportunity to do some storytelling –storytelling of some of the great hero’s of the bible – and storytelling from books, comics, movies, of some heroes from modern day children’s stories.

And part of what makes a person a hero, particularly for our biblical characters – is that they have some kind of event happen that begins to take them out of their comfort zone – and in so doing – they begin to learn some things about themselves.  And while some of our hero’s will actually take physical journeys as they learn and grow – the real journey is an inward one – where as they learn some challenging things about who they are – and often who God is – they find themselves changed – and so the outward journey looks different.

 

Now, each of our hero’s this summer must face a different but very human part of who they are in order for this growth to happen.  The basis of this comes from a ancient typology called the Enneagram.  In the Enneagram there are 9 different types and personalities – representing the totality of the true human longings and struggles.  And the Enneagram recognizes that as a part of our ability to meander and journey through this world – many of us find a default place – a pattern in which we find that things work best and we tend to then react and behave from that familiar place.  It doesn’t mean that we aren’t motivated by other longings and needs – but there tends to be a particular need that more often than not – will shape our decisions and our reactions – particularly in moments of stress.

Click here for the Enneagram Link

 

 

So over the summer, we will look at heroes who represent each of the 9 typologies – and my hope is that we will see a little bit of ourselves each week – some weeks more than others – and an invitation to go a bit deeper.

 

If you are interested in the Enneagram – you are welcome to take the free test online and see what number you are – we have been exploring these in our Tuesday bible study of which you are invited to join us! (link listed above)

 

So, our first biblical hero is Paul – who at the start of our story today is still named Saul.

 

And one thing you notice about Saul at the start of the story is that he seems very angry.  Saul is a Pharisee, raised in the Jewish tradition.  His father was a Pharisee – and one thing that was incredibly important to the Pharisees was upholding the laws and the traditions.  This was what was right and true – and as you will see in our story today – Saul – or Paul – (Saul was his Hebrew name, Paul was his Roman name) – more than anything wanted others and himself to DO WHAT WAS RIGHT.

And these followers of Jesus – were the epitome of what it meant to degrade and go against the laws that he held so dear.  The claiming of Jesus as the Messiah – that God had become human was beyond blasphemous.  So, with all the zeal and fervor and anger within him – Paul devoted himself to the relentless pursuit of all those who were followers of Jesus – or the WAY.

 

SCRIPTURE

 

If you are a person who struggles and longs to be right.  Not just in your own life – but in the world.  Nothing bothers you more than to see something or someone being done the wrong way.  If this is of paramount importance to you – then you know that nothing is more crushing and humiliating and devastating than the sure realization that you were wrong.  And not jut wrong but very very wrong.

 

As I imagine the pain that Paul must have gone through in his blindness – 3 days of quiet.  Coming to grips at whatever level he could – of just how very wrong he had been.

 

What a journey inward.

 

It’s an incredibly vulnerable moment – where after being literally stopped in his tracks – and told that he was utterly wrong – that what he thought was working toward helping God and restoring his house was actually hurting/harming/persecuting the Lord.

 

He finds himself in the dark, utterly reliant on others for everything.  Utterly reliant on God.

 

One of the things we will find in common as we journey through our series this summer is how often the most important and significant personal change arrives in our lives during moments of vulnerability.  Moments when things are not going the way we want, when we are at our weakest places, and where sometimes, we have literally been knocked off our feet.

 

For it is often in those dark places where we are finally open enough to see the change that needs to happen and to see ourselves and our own patterns and behaviors for what they are – desperate attempts to find meaning and worth – and simply unable to provide what we long for most.

 

In our comic, we see Lucy, who usually exudes such confidence, arrogance, and bossiness – telling others all the things that they are doing wrong and ensuring that things are going the way she wants.  Lucy has the rare moment of recognizing her own longing – and in the word from her brother realizing that above all – what she really longs for – is not perfection – but love.

 

It’s a humbling thing to have to admit that we are wrong – that we are often wrong – that we don’t have it all figured out.  Paul’s fear and perhaps Lucy’s as well – is that if we let down our guard for a minute – if we let anyone off the hook for a bit – if we admit ambiguity and mystery and imperfection – than our own sense of self and worth dissolves.

 

There is no other antidote for this than the humbling and true realization that we are loved regardless.  That our weaknesses are seen by God – and with grace and love that covers us – God is not concerned about those weaknesses – in fact, as Paul will proclaim later in his ministry – God will use these weaknesses to become strengths.

 

But the journey is slow – to recognize that the perfection we long for – will not ultimately fill us with peace.  But only the acceptance and assurance of God’s unconditional love for us

 

What must it have been like to be so sure you were right and then knocked off your feet – told you were utterly wrong.  Told you were persecuting God – and then have this voice say to you – and yet, you, the one who was so wrong – headed in such the wrong direction – I choose YOU – to lead my people to reveal to them my love and to show them the way forward?

 

It is such an extraordinary story of love and forgiveness.  The reminder that the perfection that God seeks in us has nothing to do with our ability to get it right – but everything to do with our willingness to let go and trust God to use what we have – and to ground our hearts in this assurance of unconditional love for us and the world.

 

That’s the thing that changes us.

 

So may you today find yourself surrounded in love.

Though you are not perfect.  And never will be.

 

May you be reminded that this was never the goal – and may it heal the anger in your heart and lead you toward peace and acceptance – for you and for others.