Sermon 10-18-2015; ‘Take a Chance’
Exodus 1:8-12, 22; 2:1-8
JB Phillips, Your God is Too Small; http://thecommonlife.com/files/books/Your_God_is_Too_Small.pdf
She always came in late – after the service had started. She would sing the hymns, give an offering – always cash, take communion each Sunday with these Disciples of Christ. And then, she would leave early. Week after week after week. The women in the choir noticed this, and before long, two of them put together a plan. One Sunday, they left worship early too, and met ‘Kathy’ in the parking lot. They visited with her, told her how glad they were to have had her coming to First Christian, and learned a little bit about her. She was in transition… the hormones were slowly, gently working. Months later, once the counseling and all the preparations were ready, those same women traveled with her to Portland for her surgery at the Medical School. By the time I met her, she was a lovely, fully transitioned woman. She was the Worship Team leader, and she played a mean guitar. I was the Choir Director, and we had so much fun! Jon figured it out right away… I had no clue. All I knew was, Kathy was Kathy, and she was beautiful, and she loved Jesus, and served God in a loving and giving way. Once she discovered Jon and I would be moving back to Iowa, she asked me if we could record some pieces together. I thought that was great idea... so I went to her trailer house, and we spent time choosing pieces, some she had written, and made a recording we called "Sisters in Christ”. None of that would have happened if Kathy had not taken a chance. Would First Christian mind if she sat in worship with them? Would she be welcomed there? Could this person who had been a Christian all their lives, find a place to worship, to belong, to grow and serve Christ? That would depend on the God those people served… was their God big enough to love Kathy?
She nursed her baby, possibly for the last time, and bundled him in the softest blanket she had. She put him in the basket, and carried him to the river, slipping the basket carefully down among the reeds. Her son would either die at home, or die in the river, or… She had to take this chance. Her daughter had heard the instructions many times, and waited nearby. What would happen next?
The Pharaoh did not know the Hebrew, Joseph. His earlier time in Egypt was of no consequence. What he did know was that the Israelite people had multiplied many times over, and Egypt was overflowing with Hebrews. Safety and protection against these immigrants was of the utmost importance. Midwives, who were supposed to kill Hebrew boys, cleverly told the Pharaoh that the Hebrew women birthed their babies so quickly, the midwives could not arrive in time. The infant boys lived.
Moses’ mother received her son back again, and was paid by Pharaoh’s daughter to raise him! Not only would he not die at home, but he would live there, with his mother. The infant who would have been drowned in a river was drawn from a river by the daughter of the one who would have killed him. And another daughter brought them together. None of this would have happened if Moses’ mother would not have taken a chance. Would he suffocate in the heat? Would he drown? Would anyone, the right one, come and find him? Would her daughter remember what to say? Would her boy-child have a future? That would depend on the God she served… was her God big enough to love her son?
What chances have you taken? Some of us are risk-averse… we take as few chances as possible. Count me in with that crowd! Others love the fierce excitement of ‘living on the edge’ of possibility, and taking chances are like second nature for them. Every time you drive a car, you take a chance. Every time you cross a street, you take a chance. Every time you go out on a date, you take a chance! We all take chances, all the time. And we do this, because we’ve made some assumptions. We’ve taken driving lessons. We’ve learned to look both ways. We’ve answered all the questions for Match.com! We’ve read the directions (or not!), we’ve interviewed the candidates, we’ve spoken to counselors, we’ve watched to see when Pharaoh’s daughter usually comes to bathe, we’ve attended church with the same people for days and months, and years and decades.
Jesus was always willing to take a chance… J.B. Phillips, in “Your God is Too Small” describes Christ as “one who did not hesitate to challenge and expose the hypocrisies of the religious people of his day… who could be moved to violent anger by shameless exploitation, or by smug complacent orthodoxy, a man of such courage that he deliberately walked to what He knew would mean death…” Was Christ’s God big enough to love him? To love him to death? Yes. Christ’s God was big enough. But Christ discovered that, Christ revealed that by stepping it out. By making it real. By taking a chance. And there was God, on the other side of what was certain death, in life and love.
Was Kathy’s God big enough? Yes. She discovered that by walking into that sanctuary. Literally, discovering ‘sanctuary’ by taking the chance to see if there was love enough, and hope for a new beginning.
Was God big enough for Moses’ mother? Yes. But God could only work if she would love her son enough to take the chance of walking away from him, hidden in those bulrushes.
We can take the chance of trusting God. We live in God. And we believe and have experienced God living in us. Not across the street, or on the other side of town… God lives in us. We have trusted God before, and God has been faithful. God has not always answered in the way we expected, and that’s been a very good thing… it’s strengthened us, stretched us, and caused us to rely on each other, and on God even more. God is big enough. God’s love is big enough. Is our love big enough to take a chance on God? Is our love big enough to take a chance on one another? Are we willing to take a chance to be loved? Are we willing to take a chance to love?
CD: Sisters In Christ; Kathy Williams and Ruthie Tippin/Cut #12 “Spread Your Wings”