My primary goal in preaching is to help connect your story/our story with the story of God, woven throughout scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. This is a fancy way of saying I really just want to be a storyteller of God stories. Since Jesus has that covered, I often end up looking for God in my own stories.
Life at church this week is CHAOS! School starts Monday, the flooring is torn out of the parlor kitchen, we don’t have the church directory photos finished, we have 5 new teachers, newly painted classrooms, newly carpeted preschool classrooms, mammoth cleaning out and cleaning up, and action-packed late days trying to having everything ready. The internet is up today after being down since last Thursday so the calendar is already out of date on our sparkly new website. Also, because the state has refigured how much time children must have instruction, Chapel will begin at 7:45 instead of 8 am. CPR training was this morning but I had other stuff going on, and my desk looks like clutter central.
So I launched into sermon prep for the Gospel lection: Matthew 14:22-33. This is Matthew’s telling of Jesus coming to his disciples across water at night in a storm. It’s a great story. I was going to steal John Ortberg’s sensational sermon so you would all think I was really smart and clever but it never really works to preach someone else’s words. So I started digging in to do my own work and discovered this is a story about CHAOS, fear, risk, and salvation! Wow!!!!!
We Americans want life to make sense. We search for sensible explanations. We want verifiable results. We put a great deal of energy into transforming CHAOS into chaos that can be organized and controlled. We really like sound-bite scriptures we can keep handy to zap mess and trouble into something conquered and subdued. We focus on God bringing order out of CHAOS.
What if CHAOS is something we need? What if the disorientation of mess and uncertainty opens up pathways we were unaware of? What if CHAOS is necessary to birth anything new? What if CHAOS is a prerequisite for the church to become the engaging, transforming, worshipping community it is called to be? What if our mess is the raw material from which God creates, transforms, and makes God’s own self known through Jesus Christ?
This Sunday I’m preaching to rock our boat. I hope you will rock along with me!
Rev. Marcia Hagee
She graduated from Duke University and the University of Missouri-Columbia studying Psychology and Religion. She earned her M. Div at Phillips Theological Seminary and was ordained by the Oklahoma Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).