“leave your country, your family & your fathers house for the land I will show you..” God’s call to Abram, & a call ever since then, for brave chosen individuals to become explorers; to find new lands, new peoples, different languages.. ..a call for you & I to become explorers/disciples..to explore new opportunities in this valley in which many of us have lived for a lifetime..to meet new people, parishioners in Gilling & Oswaldkirk, who up to now seemed to have spoken a different language, enjoyed different experiences to ours; to put names & family stories to faces.. & now, us on the verge like Abram, of becoming a new people, a new tribe..
“I will make you a great nation” I will make you a great parish.. “us” no longer “them & us” ; Lord have mercy “leave your country” your Church building in your own village ..”for the new land” the new community “I will show you..” ; Christ have mercy “all the tribes of the earth “ all the parishes of our Diocese “shall bless themselves by you” ..by us.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..the three closest followers of Jesus, Peter James & John, were still apprentices, learners; loved him sufficiently deeply to have left everything & everyone..”come, follow me” no conditions, no guarantees, no “if’s & but’s” just “yes!” the inevitability of choppy waters & temptations to seek the best seats, or to deny him betray him, or go back to my home village to try to turn the clock back; wrestling with a first Lent full of promise & good resolutions, but a humanity which struggled, doubted, wobbled..& sensing it in them & in himself, four wobblers went up mountain, the traditional meeting place with God; to pray, to seek inspiration, to ask for an explanation of “why us?” & “why now?”..& there & then Jesus was transfigured; his state of being changed, & alongside him, two great characters from the past, themselves chosen in their time for a particular moment as explorers/disciples, Moses & Elijah; called out from the ordinary; Moses began in a basket, a refugee a child migrant; later with tablets of stone; written on them three words ..obedience protectionism & containment..& for Elijah God visited in the still small voice of a gentle breeze; breath of Holy Spirit; three words written on his & now your heart.. love inspiration empowerment..a huge message to Peter James John to see these two legends of past side by side with Jesus, affirming his pedigree; his lineage his religious family tree..theirs & our religious family tree..”it is wonderful for us to be here” a moment of recognition appreciation & affirmation; realisation of who they really were, & who they were becoming..”it is wonderful for us to be here” & Peter’s three tent strategy; tents are for nomads refugees; not a temple or a church, a tent; transportable convenient basic, all that is necessary for a people on a journey & with purpose; onwards & upwards towards a destination we call heaven; as if it was a place, when all the time, here & now, heaven is potentially, & at times really here..because it isn’t a place or a building, it is a relationship person to person, name to name, heart to heart..some of us like Moses; law carriers, wise legal eagles; some of us like Elijah; prophets, speaking up & out for Jesus in truth life & love..some of us like Jesus; disciples stewards custodians of this heaven/ paradise we call earth..& as if like climate change, in this blue sky moment, comes cloud; bright but still a cloud, & a voice, the divine voice”this is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.” have no doubt I have sacrificed gifted my beloved Son, risked him to live & to stand pray alongside you, here & now..to help you to get closer & into deeper relationship with me & with one another “they were overcome with fear.. overcoming as they realised at last the gulf between who they thought they were, where they thought they stood in religion thus far, & where they now at last found themselves.. how beloved & needed they were & always would/will be..you are each of you, my son or daughter, my beloved, you enjoy my favour. Why have we been chosen in 2019/20 to be a vital disciple, lawer giver & prophet, reshaping spiritual profile & geography in this valley, a land of milk & honey “a land I will show you”..& you will show to me..show me Bede how you’ve changed & how you’ve changed for better since you arrived at this new moment, in this valley & this parish since Sept 2019..”tell no one about the vision” pray it live it & let rest of valley be inspired convinced not by what you tell of it in God.. in “God-sip” good gossip, but by the way you believe in it & live it....in late 1990’s when I was Procurator I used to go to Fort Augustus Abbey in Scotland for my retreat; a quiet week of prayer & walks in Highlands; one afternoon up into hills above Abbey & crossed heather moor miles from civilisation; I discovered wonderful view down full length of Loch Ness & spectacular range of mountains way into far distance; I looked prayed for some time at beauty of Gods creation; a truly transfigurational moment, & then turned to come away; someone had been before me albeit no footpath; on rock face behind me a vandal had been at least twice..first time to see view; second time with tin of paint & paintbrush; on rock face they had painted in white letters as tall as me their graffiti..it said “Christ is alive!”..indeed Christ like our parish in this, our moment of transfiguration, three characters three Churches with a mountain to climb together together..& when we get there & with Christ alive & very well alongside us, we too will see a reality which will take our breath away; we will hear the Peters’ among us..rocks of dependability at times then disowners of some note at others..”Lord it is wonderful for us to be here”..a showing & a voicing to us of just who were are & how blessed we are to be in the company of Moses Elijah & Jesus, them &us beloved sons & daughters of God..& the message which God himself graffiti’s onto the walls of each of our three churches/tents is “listen to each other..stand up, do not be afraid..” [2ndSunLentYrAMt 17;1-9]