Sunday, October 30, 2016

Resolution: I Know This Much Is True

Resolution: I Know This Much Is True

A sermon delivered by Rev. Peter T. Atkinson

October 30, 2016

at Gordonsville Presbyterian Church, Gordonsville, Virginia

Job 19: 20-29

Matthew 16: 13-20

Let us pray,

Help us to see despite our eyes

Help us to think outside of our minds

Help us to be more than our lives   

For your eyes show the way

    Your mind knows the truth

    Your being is the life.


So this morning we continue our journey through these 7 aspects of life. 2 weeks ago we looked at the beginning, which is humility. . . it is the only place to start a path of following, admitting to yourself that you do not know everything, doubting yourself enough to ask, to seek, to knock, which led us to last week when we talked about discernment, asking those questions, Who am I, and what am I called to be and do. . . listening to your experiences, all of those external lessons, and the internal piece, for those answers, for as Calvin said, knowledge of God and knowledge of ourselves is indelibly linked. And if the beginning was about the moment where you doubt, where you ask, today is that moment when you have come to know enough to take a step, to decide to take a step, a step completely led by God. The Old Testament lesson, I chose because in it Job, who has been through such trial, such calamity, what many people would call tragedy, makes a statement that resounds in our ears, a statement of knowledge, he says, I know my redeemer lives. . . and this morning for the New Testament Lesson, I could think of no better event than when Peter comes forward, he has seen enough to make his famous declaration. . . here is Matthew 16: 13-20.

 13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare′a Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli′jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

So we started with not knowing, with humility, with questions, and today we talk about the third aspect, Resolution. . . to have enough knowledge to take a step, make a decision, begin a commitment. It all takes place in a moment. . . the discernment is a long process, a many sided process, a process that lasts a lifetime. . . there is a reason that the original Greek tense of Ask, Seek, and Knock. . . is Ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, Knock and keep knocking. . . but so too is the result. . . find and keep finding. . . So again, I chose not to call these steps because they are constantly happening, constantly parallel to each other. Resolution doesn’t mean that you necessarily have it all figured out, but that you have enough to take the first step, and enough to be led in that decision, that the steps that you will take from this point on will all be led as well. That is why I think and am saying that it isn’t just about what am I going to do, but also about who I am. . . it’s about identity. . . and who you are going to follow. . . like Peter, knowing that Jesus is the Messiah, and Job knowing that despite it all that his redeemer truly lives. . . we resolve, we make a decision because we want to be able to persevere. We want to be unshakeable, we want to be the Rock, which becomes Peter’s name, when he resolves here.

I subtitled this sermon with the words of a famous 80’s song. . . “I know this much is true.” You can almost hear it. . . huh huh huh uh uh. . . I know this much is true. . . because that is what this resolution is about. You have discerned enough to say that. . . I know that this much is true. . . I’m taking some of the things I have discerned and putting them into another category. . . I’m taking from the maybe category and putting them in the definitely category. Truth, Belief, Knowledge, on these things I will build. . . this is the foundation. What are some of those foundational pieces for you? Is it that there is a God? Is it that he had a Son Jesus Christ? Christ has made the sure foundation? Is it the Apostles Creed? Is it that you are a child of God? Is it that all people are children of God? That your neighbor is? Is it all of those basics that I talked about last week? Sure yes. . . some of those things, possibly even all of those things. . . and I’m sure a ton more. You may not even remember when you came to know all of those things. . . perhaps it was always there, you were born in the church, your parents taught you, it just always was. . . or maybe not. . . maybe you can look back on the day when all of this came to be. . . maybe it was a process. . . I think if we are honest. . . it is a process that is still continuing to this day. . . refining, filling in the pieces. . . we experience new things, we hear new things from other people, and we get to know our inside better, and all the time piece by piece we take something out of the question box, and put it in that resolution box. Are there any times when you have taken something out of the resolution box and said you know, I’m not really sure about that right there? If you have, if you do, it’s no big deal you just go back to the humility, you just start over. . . now certainly when you take a big piece out of the resolution bin, there can be a sense of loss, and sometimes that is called disillusionment. . . and it can be quite troubling. . . quite disconcerting. . . and I think that is part of the beauty of seeing these aspects in this way. . . that when you fall, when you quit, when something challenges you, there is grace, there is new path back, there is always a path. I love that. We aren’t perfect, nor do we have perfect knowledge, we are saved, and children of God, we can simply discern and slowly find our place in this world. . . slowly. . . steadily. . . with perseverance running the race. . . but you see how it comes back full circle again. I know my redeemer liveth, you are the messiah. . . let’s take that next step, but what is it?

We can look to the Bible for some character models about Resolution. . . heck, let’s start at the beginning, seems a very good place to start. . . Adam, Eve, in the garden. . . Eve, did God tell you that you could eat of any fruit of the garden. . . no he said we cannot eat of the fruit in the middle of the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, nor shall we touch it lest we die. . . see there it is. . . there is a resolution moment. . . I know who I am. . . I am a child of God, I’m here with my neighbor, I am not supposed to eat of the fruit. . . You will not surely die, says the snake. . . God just wants to keep you down, he doesn’t want you to know, he doesn’t want you to become like him. . . so at that moment a new resolution is made. . . perhaps there is more to this world that I didn’t know. . . look at the text. . .

The woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate

And their eyes were open, and they hid themselves. . . sure now of a completely new world. . . sure that God would not forgive them. . . sure that they were naked. . . sure that they needed to hide from God. . . and they began to blame each other. . . no longer seeking the truth. . . sure of the truth, but a skewed incorrect version of the truth. . . what did I say last week, it wasn’t that they didn’t know things, but that they knew so many things that just weren’t so. Quite a metaphor huh. . .

So much for them. . . Abraham in the Mesopotamian city of Ur. . . the place of his family. The security of life in a prosperous city-state. . . all that he had ever known was inside those walls, but God tells him. . . I will make of you a new nation, but you must leave from this place, and go to the place I will show you. . . what made Abraham take that step? And what made him take each step after that. . . with each twist, each turn, each misstep, and doubting moments. . . Moses. . . there in front of the burning bush. . . I am that I am. . . I want you to go to Pharaoh and say, let my people go. . . but I am not a good speaker. . . who told you that. . . do you ever think about that. . . who told Moses he was unequipped for the job? Experience, External? Had he never had that skill before? What made him leave all of that former knowledge and resolve in this new direction back to Egypt? What brought David from the fields, tending the sheep to volunteer to go against Goliath? What made his grandmother Ruth say. . . Where ever you go, there I will go, your God will be My God, your people, my people? Resolution. What makes Isaiah say, Here I am send me? What makes the wisemen follow the star? What makes the shepherds leave their fields? What makes the disciples decide to leave their nets behind? What would make us? And where would we go?

I came across this poem from Helen Keller, and love it. . . thought it fit right here. . . listen:

The word of God came unto me,
Sitting alone among the multitudes;
And my blind eyes were touched with light.
And there was laid upon my lips a flame of fire.

I laugh and shout for life is good,
Though my feet are set in silent ways.
In merry mood I leave the crowd
To walk in my garden. Ever as I walk
I gather fruits and flowers in my hands.
And with joyful heart I bless the sun
That kindles all the place with radiant life.

I run with playful winds that blow the scent

Of rose and jessamine in eddying whirls.
At last I come where tall lilies grow,
Lifting their faces like white saints to God.
While the lilies pray, I kneel upon the ground;
I have strayed into the holy temple of the Lord.

To me that is a poem of resolution. . . a poem that says I am going to build my life on the path that God leads. . . look she says, kneeling on the ground, she strays into the holy temple. . . humility, discernment, and her life is a testament to her resolve.

I have come to believe that all people are meant, and therefore called. That if we are humble and discerning, we will hear, or come to know who we are and what we are to do, where our paths will lead, and all the steps that we can take. I believe that. . . It is one of my foundational truths, discerned from scriptural passages like Jeremiah “I knew you before you were born, in the womb, I set you apart” and many others. I have been taught it by many teachers in my life, from my parents. . . and I have countless experiences in my life that have reinforced it for me. . . I’ve even read about it in other literary works, things that I have taught like, the Hindu writing, Bhagavad Gita, which inspired the spiritual discipline of Martin Luther King.. . they call it dharma, or sacred duty. . . but it is very similar. . . it is another way of saying, what did God mean when God made you. . . I have put this in my resolved compartment of things I can say, I know this much is true. . . so me knowing this is true. . . I testify in my witness to you today that those answers to the questions do exist. . . and if you seek and keep seeking them you will find and keep finding them.

So when do you know enough to move forward with something? When can you resolve to take that first step? I also believe that no one can tell you the answer to that question for sure but you. We are external voices for each other, and perhaps part of our calling is to be teachers like that, or to lead lives like that, that are examples to and for others. . . we’ll talk about that in a few weeks. I call it Legacy. . . but no one can make a resolution decision for you, though often we’d like them to. . .when we have a decision looming, and we don’t want to make it. . . when we wish someone would just make it for us. . . but don’t you see that is making a decision, too. . . make those decisions wisely based on solid discernment. . . there is a real danger in following the herd. . . the crowd. . . the mob. . . the world. . .  they all tend to be fickle, and forget about the real individual nature and call of each of us. . . . but it is a danger because there are always tons of people who’d be willing to make decisions for us., who are just dying to make those decisions for us. . . . I find this to be the real danger of our culture and society. . . it is interesting, we are growing less humble, but at the same time less able or willing to make committed decisions, thinking we can simply change and create a new identity for ourselves daily, from moment to moment, that our actions aren’t binding. . . this is all much different from, though often confused for grace. . . and for freedom for that matter. I think, and this is something else I’ve discerned and resolved as true, that the true need for freedom we have is that we can be free to become what we were made to be. . . not that we can just make ourselves in our own image. . . and that grace is a return to humility through forgiveness, not a systematic lowering of standards, in a fickle binding too used to control and wield power over people. . . but if we are honest about all this, we’d like to even make decisions for others, too. . . I see it so much. . . it is truly the way of the world. There is power in that kind of control. . . and the way of the world is that kind of power. . . there is safety in that kind of control. . . but such is the stuff of idols and is not built upon the foundation of humble discernment.

So if we can return to humility, discern faithfully, we can begin to resolve and follow our path. . . and we will then get to persevere through anything. . . which is where our attention turns next week.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Illustration by Julianna Jackson


In silence it’s slept for years upon years.
It lived alone in only imagined fears.
Observable facts had locked the door,
So minds need delve to such depth no more.

Ne’er thinking of danger lurking deep below.
 “All that is has been seen,” we say; do we know?
And so I boarded the ship calmly and cool
With all the confidence of an ignorant fool.

My ignorance wasn’t as such that I didn’t know,
But that I claimed to know so much that just wasn’t so,
And on a typical day, such things make no difference,
But tell that to the man, who prays for deliverance,

Locked in the clutches of what he knew didn’t exist,
Hoping now for the miracle he so stubbornly dismissed.
Humility comes quick when the unknown strikes fast,
A lesson we forget once the danger has passed.

This prayer I now write is my last desperate act:
An eyewitness testimony to the dreadful fact
That there still remain Krakens lurking below,
Even though we’re quite sure that such mustn’t be so.

If you find this bottle floating and in it this note,
Heed the warning I give in the words that I wrote,
“Don’t think for a moment all that is, has been seen,
For you got this message, and a Kraken devoured me.”

~ Rev. Peter T. Atkinson

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Discernment: To Come to Know

Discernment: To Come to Know

A sermon delivered by Rev. Peter T. Atkinson

October 23, 2016

at Gordonsville Presbyterian Church, Gordonsville, Virginia

Psalm 119:  25-32

Luke 8: 9-15

Let us pray,

Help us to see despite our eyes

Help us to think outside of our minds

Help us to be more than our lives   

For your eyes show the way

    Your mind knows the truth

    Your being is the life.


And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have no root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.

I once heard a person say from the pulpit, in trying to simplify the Bible and its message, that Bible was actually an acronym, an acronym for Basic, Instructions, Before, Leaving, Earth, and I cringed, I couldn’t believe it. . . I thought wow, he must have gotten that from a T-Shirt somewhere, and yup, wouldn’t you know it. . . years later I saw the shirt. . . and yeah, I cringed again. . . because the Bible is many things, but it is hardly basic. . . what with the differing and multiple voices, and contradictions, and hard truths. . . and many of these hard truths, expressed in parables like this one. . . and the disciples ask. . . um Jesus. . . what did you mean by that? And then he gives an answer, and his answer muddies the water more. There is another parable. . . in the Gospel of John, where Jesus says I am the Gatekeeper, then he says  I am the Gate, and then he says, I am the Good shepherd. . . and all that are listening think he is crazy. . . yeah nothing basic here. . . and are they really instructions even? Debatable. . .  then the Before leaving Earth deal is just bad. . . and to sum the Bible up like that, why would we do it. . . the Bible is so much more, in all of its twists and turns and glorious contradictions. . . it is very much wonder. . . very much the word of God, and being such impossible to put in a box. . . though we try and try.

I bring this up today because today we talk about discernment. On the journey we are on, this 8 week journey, we have reached the second piece. . . and I think I’ve decided I like aspects to describe these. . . I said last week that I was having trouble coming up with the descriptor. . . they aren’t steps, or phases, because they repeat and happen over and again and simultaneously. . . but they are more than just categories. . . academic categories for the sake of themselves. . . so I came up with aspects. . . these are aspects of life. . . ways to look at life. . . ways to see the patterns. . . in all their glorious repetitions and muddled paralleling of each other. . . and they are again Humility. . . first the beginning of it all. . . I’m not sure. . . I don’t have the answers. . . and you look, you seek, you knock, you ask, and that brings us today: Discernment: coming to know. . . , you find, you hear, and the door is open. . . next is Resolution, making that choice, then Perseverance, sticking to that choice through it all. . . like my anthem this morning. . . the storm tossed life, our discerned relationship with Jesus Christ gives us that peace in the midst of the storm. . . and those moments of peace are our Fulfillment, which is next. . . Then Legacy and Retirement. So Humility, Discernment, Resolution, Perseverance, Fulfillment, Legacy, and Retirement.

We looked at humility last week. . . looking at all of the reasons we have for asking, for seeking, for searching for who it is that we are, and what it is that we are called to do. These are the questions that are asked in the process of discernment. And of course there are basic answers to this. . . and perhaps that is what the man and the T-Shirt were saying. . . and they are in the Bible. As a human being, the Bible tells me I am a child of God, made in His image, Beloved, Saved by Jesus Christ, a sheep of his fold, cared for deeply beyond my wildest imaginings, that I am known, my inward parts are known, that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, that there are plans for me from the womb. Yes, all those things. . . and there are commandments, like the first, Be Fruitful and Multiply, or the Ten. . . no other Gods, Thou Shalt Not Kill, or bear false witness. . . etc. . . or the greatest. . . Loving God with all my heart, my soul, my mind, and my strength, or those things in Hebrew. . . my Lebab (which literally means heart but is translated mind) they thought the heart was the center of thoughts, then Nephesh (which is translated as soul) but means your essence spiritual essence, and then my favorite Meod (which is translated as strength) but means the very end of your strength, like a story I read for my students this week about these two sons, from Athens, they were said to have lived a good life and died a good death because they carried their mother 9 miles into the city of Athens, and then upon arriving fell to their death because all of their energy was spent. . . my students didn’t agree with the Greeks by the way, but that is Meod. . . have you ever given of strength that way. . . that is the call to love God. . . and then the last is like it. . . Loving your Neighbor. . . so maybe that is basic afterall, we are Children of God. . . and we are to love God and Love our Neighbor. . . okay, we’re done. . . maybe like we thought last week after saying. . . Fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom, we were done with the whole humility thing. . . now we have our basic instructions. . . Love God and Love Neighbor, and we know who we are as Children of God. . . but what does that mean, in the specifics. . . in the you being you, and me being me sense. . . even the disciples who were with him, standing right there with him, had trouble with it all. . . drop everything you have, leave it all and start loving God and Neighbor, follow me. . . sure but what does that look like? And I believe that for each of us it is something very different? What specifically did God mean when he made you. . . when he says he knows your inward parts, and is molding you, selecting you while you were in the womb. . . what does he want. . . what is he calling to you to do. . . to be. . . the Old Testament refrain to that calling voice is always the same. . . Hi ne ni. . . Here I am. . . so today we say, Here I am. . . and then we listen, or more specifically we discern.

So one of the places we look is of course the Bible. . . and perhaps it gives us a lens to see more, to see the rest of life, but in it we can also see human characters, characters just like ourselves wrestling with these questions. . . whether it be Jacob, and his travels and trickery, finally coming to terms with God, wrestling with him on the road. . . or whether its Noah. . . build me an ark. . . and start loading it with animals. . . or Moses, Go Down Moses, Way down in Egypt Land, tell Old Pharaoh to Let my People go. . . or Jonah, running away, fleeing from the presence of God, so he thinks. . . or Job, ever faithful amidst trials, or Abraham heading up the mountain with the knife, and Isaac, and no lamb. . . Mary, blessed are you. . . or Saul, heading to Damascus to find and persecute more Christians. . . so many models for discernment. . . sometimes it’s a voice, immediate and clear, a flashing or blinding light, a burning bush, a truth that you can no longer run away from, an angel. . . so many possibilities. Sometimes God calls to us, and he isn’t a earthquake, or the thunder, or the wind, but instead that still small voice. . .  and think about Ruth, for her something tells her to defy all logic. . . everything that she knows is right. . . to completely do the opposite of what seems like the smart thing to do. . . leaving behind your land, your family, to head to land and family of your dead husband’s mother, yes your mother in law. . . makes no sense. . . and then what about Esther. . . where there is no specific message, but the situation is perfect, you are the only one, the right person, in the right place. . . are these good models for us? Do we find ourselves in situations similar? Do we hear the still small voice? Do we see the blinding light? Do we have regular encounters with angels? Maybe some of us do in our own way. . . but then again, those stories don’t repeat themselves either. There is only one burning bush. . . there is only one blinding light. . . only one time where there was a pillar of fire leading through the darkness. . . and if you go stand out by the Red Sea, it probably won’t part again. . . again there is no box that we can put God into, no step by step guide to discernment. . . no way to hold our body, no magic words to say, no four fold path. WE are simply told to Ask, Seek, Knock. . . and if we translate it more correctly from the Greek. . . it is Ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, knock and keep knocking. . . but then also the find is find and keep finding. . . or as Daniel was told in 10:12 “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words have been heard. . .” , so yeah possibilities for discernment are all around us. Erick read for us from Psalm 119 and the Call to Worship today was also from there. Psalm 119 is the longest of the Psalms, and works as an acrostic in its original language, a statement of law and discernment for every letter of the Hebrew Alphabet. . . there just are so many ways to ask for discernment. There is a still small voice, for those who have ears to hear. . . and as we said last week, those ears are born in humility. . .

So where can we look. . . Calvin opens his Institutes with these words:

Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other. For, in the first place, no man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves; because it is perfectly obvious, that the endowments which we possess cannot possibly be from ourselves; nay, that our very being is nothing else than subsistence in God alone. In the second place, those blessings which unceasingly distil to us from heaven, are like streams conducting us to the fountain.

So there is a connection here, a connection between coming to know God and coming to know ourselves. . . that in seeking one we seek the other, because they are so mutually tied. . . so how do we come to know. . . I briefly introduced last week the idea that there are really three categories for this coming to know. . . that we learn from our experiences. . . we learn from external sources of information. . . and we learn from internal. . . and I introduced the idea that it is cool how these form and reflect the Trinity. . . that we come to experience the Son, Jesus Christ, that his coming to Earth, incarnate was all about experience. . . that God, the Father, in His Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Timelessness, is very much an “other” for us, and therefore external. . . and then who could deny the powerful presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. So again yeah, the idea of coming to know ourselves and coming to know God is indelibly linked.

So keep that in mind, but think about how Experience, External, and Internal influences are our sources for what we have come to know in life. Like Experiences. . . you burn your hand on the stove, and you know not to do that. . . or you listen to your parents tell you, “don’t do that, it’s hot” External. . . or you look at that red hotness, feel a little bit of that heat, and something inside, call it instinct. . . but you think to yourself, nope not gonna touch it. . . I’ve seen Susanna make some of those decisions on her own, already. . . Nope. . . she nopes it. . . nope is a great verb isn’t it? But let’s look at each one. . . experience. . . it shapes us. . . it changes us. . . and if we look back on our lives it helps us in our discernment. I can think of so many life experiences that have shaped who I am. . . and they do inform me in what I know about myself and inform me in decisions I make. Life, loss, happy memories, mistakes. . . things that I’ve experienced in nature. . . the falling of acorns, taught me something last week, and I wrote it in a poem. . . or even the rays of a lighted moon. . . the poet William Cullen Bryant talks about it being called the hymnbook of nature. . . it’s all there for us to experience. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

What about external? Who are the people in your life that you listen to? Maybe your family, a close friend, a spouse? Maybe you had a teacher from your childhood that left their mark on you? Maybe it was a book you read, or a poem, a quote that you have memorized? It could be something that your parents instilled in you? Maybe it is from television, the news, a politician? A song, a painting, a piece of art? Wisdom from the ages? Someone who you got to see live. . . those Saints at church, whose lives were so brilliant, they just seemed to leave a trail of light behind them. . . or maybe there were negative people, things that you heard, where you just said no, I don’t buy that, I know that’s wrong. . . you see those people leave their mark on you, too. How do you determine who to listen to? What to listen to? Which news channel to watch? The one that supports your bias, or the one that challenges it? So there are tons of external influences on us, too.

The internal is harder to describe. . . but we know it’s there. . . is it conscience, or instinct, or wiring. . . or how much of our internal is just the internalization of all those external voices. . . perhaps, and I used to think that was all there was, but then I had kids. . . and how much of their personalities is there on day 1, they are already shaped, already uniquely them. . . so there is something there. . . but what is it. . . is it just chemicals, intereacting with each other, synapses firing, or is it something shaped and formed, fearfully, wonderfully, and purposefully made by the Hand of God, and why are those mutually exclusive ideas? We look inside and we can find something about who we are as well. . . All three of these” experience, external influence, and our internal, inward parts, all working together, in making us who we are, and each playing a role in our decision making, our discernment, and our coming to know ourselves. . .

So what now, how do we know for sure, how do we come to know? How can we ever put all this together enough to take the next step. . . that step towards resolution, where we say, yes I am this, I will do that, and be confident enough in it that we will persevere, come what may, that we will have enough strength to stand in the storms of life. . . that our lives will be tied to God, tied to Christ, tied to the Cross, authentically ourselves, the us that God made, the me that God meant, when he made me. . . the you God meant when he made you. . . . that is where we head next week, when we move on to the next aspect: Resolution. Amen.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Fishing Moon

The Fishing Moon

There's a tale once told of a little lass,
Who wants to play with the stars in the sky.
She travels near and far. She seeks the help
Of the fairy brood, and they tell her to climb
The stairs without steps. So she climbs, up and up
The rainbow, higher and higher, until she grasps
At stardust, falling, down and down and down,
She wakes in her bed, and as she opens her eyes,
She doubts for a moment, and thinks ‘twas all a dream,
But she finds her fist is clenched, and as she opens
Her hand, a tiny flash of light escapes.
She knows her dream was real, for she did play
Among the stars in the sky, and brought a piece
Of their world into her own. Could it be
The moon and her sister stars have such a tale,
Where their true wish is to descend and play?
That staring down from high in the sky, they see
The sea, and its water raging, or do they see
Themselves reflected when the coast is clear,
And the waves are calm, and wish that it were so,
And not a refracted illusion erasing the distance?
If it were real, and we could see such things
From our perspective, would we see the rays
Of the moon’s light, shining bright, to light
The night? Would we catch sight of a line pulled tight
And think, could I be right, and might the moon
Be fishing out there in the sea? Could she
Be trying to bring home a piece of Earth
To hold to prove, ‘twas all not just a dream?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Humility: The Beginning

Humility: The Beginning
A sermon delivered by Rev. Peter T. Atkinson
October 16, 2016
at Gordonsville Presbyterian Church, Gordonsville, Virginia
Proverbs 1: 7, 22-33
Acts 9:1-9

I’m not sure now when I started using this prayer as my all-time prayer for Illumination, but I have done so for a while now, like at least 4 years or so, but today it takes even more importance because it is a statement of what I am talking about. It is a statement of humility, a statement asking for help, a statement that says not my will in this, but thy will, thy will be done. . . Father fill me with what it is that you would have me be filled with. . . it is not my eyes where this begins, for my eyes may not see all that is, and are shaped too often by my own bias, it is not my mind where this begins, because my mind is limited to my own perspective, and therefore I must break outside, looking outside of my own mind. . . and all of this is to ask what we can be, more than our own lives, a part of the whole, a piece of the amazing work of creation, on going and true, the work of God’s hands. . . his eyes, his mind, his being. . . the way, the truth, and the life. . . I didn’t plan to always say the same thing, but I can think of no better way to begin.

Let us pray,
Help us to see despite our eyes
Help us to think outside of our minds
Help us to be more than our lives   
For your eyes show the way
    Your mind knows the truth
    Your being is the life.

So, this morning’s Old Testament Passage that Erick read really gets at this morning’s issue. . . Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom—the beginning. I said last week that we are going to look at the pattern that I outlined, that looking at life we can see cycles that fit this pattern description. Maybe at some point in these 8 weeks I can figure out what to call them. . . not really patterns. . . not really stages. . . not really steps. . .  oh well. . . Humility, Discernment, Resolution, Perseverance, Fulfillment, Legacy, Retirement. . . so today we are all about the first, for lack of a better term, step: Humility. Humility is the beginning. . . or again Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. . . and this is a good place to start because wisdom is what we are seeking. . . when we act, when ask who we are, when we seek the truth as basis for our actions, we are seeking wisdom. We want to be a person confident, and cool, able persevere into fulfillment, and leave behind a legacy, a trail of life that makes a difference in the world, the difference that God meant us for. . . interesting that humility is the starting point, that lack of wisdom is the first step, that not knowing is the beginning, that we start with a question, we start with doubt, we start with the realization that the answers to our questions are not already known by us but instead need to be sought. Why is this so important? I thought I’d use Saul’s conversion into the Apostle Paul as an entry point. . . so let’s take a look at that Acts 9: 1-9:
Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

The conversion of Saul is such an amazing story because here is a man, the chief persecutor of the burgeoning Christian movement, the one who had just approved the stoning of Steven, he who in what we just read is “breathing threats and murder against the Disciples of the Lord, who is on his way to Damascus to find any followers of Jesus, so he can bind them and bring them back to Jerusalem to face trial and punishment. . . perhaps even like that which he approved for Steven. . . It is this Saul, who becomes converted, with a blinding light on the road to Damascus, the converting blinding light of Jesus himself. . . . but I want to take a look first at the Saul who was the persecutor. . . where does his initiative for action come from? From where does he derive his mission to kill and persecute? Can we say that he was wrong in that mission? We can can’t we, especially if his life is about to do a complete 180 degree turn. . . we must deduce from the completeness of his change that he was wrong before and right after, that Christ’s interception of him on the road to Damascus was the beginning of his wisdom and not the end of it. So what made Saul the persecutor? What made him think that, that was the right thing to do? Where did he go wrong? We don’t necessarily have answers to those questions.
We don’t know exactly what happened to Saul, but we can imagine where someone would go wrong because it is not hard to do. There is a great old Chinese anecdote. I’ve talked about it a few times because it is great for illustrating a point about our tendency to become misdirected in life. It’s called “The Missing Axe.” There is a man, who loses his axe, and then he sees a boy, and the boy looks like a thief, he walks like a thief, and he talks like a thief. . . but then the man finds his axe, and the boy transforms back into just any ordinary boy. That story is created to show the difficulty with our perception. One thing is that is true about human beings is that often what we think determines what we see. . . and the flipside is also true. . . what we see determines what we think. . . so if both of these are true at the same time, it is easy to get into a downward spiral of error, and stuck completely in delusion. You can’t trust your eyes, and you can’t trust your mind because neither of them points to the truth anymore. And there is only one way to fix that problem, only one way to save yourself from that spiral of illusion. . . do you know what it is? To doubt. . . To Question. . . to question what your eyes see and what your mind thinks. . . that one little question of doubt can break that spiral of illusion. . . it doesn’t necessarily get you on the right path, but it let’s you realize for once and for all you weren’t on the right path to begin with. . . perhaps, and maybe that is what happened to Saul. . . his mind told his eyes to see Christians as criminals. . . and therefore they were, nothing could stop him from what he was doing except for one moment doubting that his assumptions were true. . . it took a blinding light. . .
But perhaps it wasn’t just hat. . . another piece from literature is W.H. Auden’s Christmas Oratorio poem called, For The Time Being. . . in this poem he shows how, what he calls our four faculties are at war with eachother, the idea that there are four aspects about the way our minds and bodies perceive. . . that they can all be looking at the same exact issue and all see it differently, he says that the fact that there are four and not one is on account of our brokenness, he has them say together:
Over the life of Man
We watch and wait,
The Four who manage
His fallen estate:
We who are four were
Once but one,
Before his act of
We were himself when
His 'will was free,
His error became our
Chance to be.

The four faculties as he sees them are Intuition, Feeling, Sensation, and Thought. . . he introduces each one:
As a dwarf in the dark of
His belly I rest;

So intuition is our gut, our gut reaction. . . that pit in your stomach that let’s you know what is going on

A nymph, I inhabit
The heart in his breast;

The feeling then is in your heart, this is your emotions. . .

A giant, at the gates of
His body I stand;

This is the part based on  your senses, what you see, what you take in and observe

His dreaming brain is
My fairyland.

Then thought is last, your imagination, wherever your mind goes
Now you can imagine how powerful these four faculties would be for keen detection of what is going on in the world around us and our place in it, that is if they were all functioning in order and were all on the same page, but we all know that at times these point to different things, all at once. My mind tells me this, my heart tells me this, but I have a bad feeling in my gut that I should do that, and everything I’m seeing around me says I should do something else entirely. Many of us have one or another of these faculties that is dominant over the others. . . maybe you let your emotions run. . . or maybe you never do. . . maybe you can only believe in something if you see it. . . maybe you believe that what you see is all that there is. . . and the other three do not exist. . . maybe you live in a world of your own creation. . . that what you imagine is the case. . . You can see how Auden’s theory of the Four Faculties could lead a person to have no clue about who they are and what they should do. . . but also how the person would have no concept at the same time that anything is wrong. . . they would simply follow their dominant faculty. . . and like my students would say. . . Imma do me. . . but who is you. . . what is it that we are supposed to do?
I asked my students at the beginning of one class how in control of what they think they are, how in control of their own identity they are. . . they all said like 99%, but then I asked them, ok, so how do you come to know what it is that you know. . . and we broke it into three categories, that some of knowledge is gained by experience, the trials and errors of life, the moment to moment keys and lessons we all face minute by minute. . . then we said that some knowledge is gained from external sources, like other people, friends, television, teachers, peers, even books are the external sources of times gone by, and lastly some knowledge is gained through internal sources of information. . . one may call it instinct, or wiring, or conscience, or chemical synapses, or genetic coding and DNA, but there is something there as to what we know already there innate at our birth. . . so we come to knowledge through experience, external, and internal. . . I asked them again. . . how much in control of who you are and what you think are you. . . most were still in the 90’s some were starting to have their percentage drop. . . seeing already where I was going with this. I asked them, How much control of your experiences do you have? Sure there seems to be some choice there, but many things that you have no control of, like where you will be born and who will come into your life, what major life shaping events you will be a part of. Many in this room were in some ways affected by the Vietnam War, but how much influence did you have over that war happening? How much do you have over most? Ok so now their percentages are really dropping, most to 33%. Because having experienced my talk about experience, they could see where I was going with the internal because there is hardly any control there. . . right? And that leaves the external. . . and we certainly have some control there right. . . we can listen to what we want right. . . we get to choose what from the outside world has an influence enough. . . so we get 1/3 of our knowledge and identity from things we can control. . . ah ah ah, not so fast, we might get to control who we listen to, but we cannot control who speaks to us, what we have access to, etc. . . so the percentage dropped remarkably. At this point all of my student’s minds are blown.. . . I can see them all going off. . . pow, pow, pow. . .Yes there is not much about our lives that we control. . . a Calvinist’s dream. . . but there is some.
We do get to act and choose somewhere at some level. We get to act. . . but what should determine that action? Proverbs 1—fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. . . maybe that just means realizing that you don’t know everything, that you are not in control of everything, much less even yourself, that there is much more about this world that you don’t know, than it is you do know, that you have something to seek. Humility, or this first step is about just for a minute doubting that you have it all figured out for yourself. . . and that if there is a God. . . which we believe to be the case. . . to him we can go for the beginning of those answers. . . that if he created us, knows us, calls us to a purpose of his devising, that if he knows and has formed our inward parts, that if we are fearfully and wonderfully made by him. . . that he had plans for us from the womb, it is to Him where we can take these questions, that it is to him where we can begin our search for the answers, and it is on the foundation of Him, that doubt, and that question where we can only hope to begin to take our part in the Kingdom of God. All else would be building something else, something entirely different from the Kingdom of God.
The story of Adam and Even and the fruit in the garden is an amazing allegory for this, how building on a lie can create the problems of the world. The serpent says, take eat there is no harm in it, you will not surely die, God lies. . . and they do. I don’t see this story as one from the past, but rather one that is representative of us daily. We here a lie, and then we begin to build our truth our life of action based on that lie, and we grow hopelessly far from the Kingdom of God really quickly. Perhaps in Saul’s case that thing he was building was his own kingdom, maybe he was a pawn of another, maybe there was an ancient misstep that he was building on. . . I don’t know what, but whatever he was building on came crashing down in a blinding flash of light, that left him blind for three humbling days. . . yes even for Saul it was not too late to change. If the beginning of wisdom is humility, then it is accessible to everyone. But like AA, it seems like the first step is admitting you have a problem. . . and that admittance is the humble first step along this path. . . the next is about discernment, and it is there we turn our attention towards next week. I mentioned earlier that our sources for knowledge, for coming to know things in our lives are experiential, external, and internal. . . as a sneak peak at next week. . . isn’t it cool how the Holy Trinity encapsulates all three. . . The experience of the Risen Christ. . . God made flesh for us to experience. . . the external of the otherness of God, the Father. . . creator, Holy, righteous, eternal, omnipotent, out of time. . . and then the internal of the indwelling Holy Spirit. . . quite an interesting place to begin with the question of discernment next week. . . I can’t wait!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Is This Right?

Is This Right?
A sermon delivered by Rev. Peter T. Atkinson
October 9, 2016
at Gordonsville Presbyterian Church, Gordonsville, Virginia
Deuteronomy 31: 1-8
Hebrews 12: 1-11
Let us pray,
Help us to see despite our eyes
Help us to think outside of our minds
Help us to be more than our lives   
For your eyes show the way
    Your mind knows the truth
    Your being is the life.

 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons?—
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor lose courage when you are punished by him.
For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

For a while now I have been thinking about the Christian life. . . I have been thinking about how to put some of the issues we face into perspective. The issues that we have faced here as a church. . . the issues that we face as individuals, both in the long term with like the whole life, and then also with each of the small decisions we make and face in life. . . because I’ve seen cycles patterns. . . and so the long term and the short term seem to follow the same trend. . . I’ve been teaching the different parts of this in my class at school because my class is all about what it means to be human. . . and I try to instill it into the boys I coach because it’s not just about the Christian life really, but about all life. . . I think. . . and I think I’ve got something here. . . and that is why the title of this sermon is “Is This Right?” because I am really putting forth a hypothesis about what I think are the 7 parts of the way our identity as individuals is tied to what we do, and what we accomplish, and what we are up against in doing it. My plan is to lay the idea out today, with all seven, and then take the next seven weeks, leading us up to advent to look at each piece with more attention and focus. I want to use the life of Moses and Jesus and some of the other Biblical figures to bring it out. The Hebrews passage asks us to look to the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. . . so it makes sense start there.
So here is basic landscape. . . the 7 categories. . . for lack of a better term. . . maybe steps is better, but not really. . . anyway. . . . First is Humility. . . then Discernment. . . then Resolution. . . then Perseverance. . . then Fulfillment. . . then Legacy. . . and finally Retirement. . . Yes, I think it is important that there are 7 because it then mirrors the concept of creation in Genesis 1. . .and like a week. . .  and because creation is an ongoing endeavor. . . and because life is built on week after week, so too is this pattern a cycle. . . one that doesn’t happen once in life, but again and again and again. We find ourselves at different parts in the cycle constantly. . . and it is possible to be one person at different parts all at once, which may seem strange, but hopefully will make sense in a minute. . .
Let me use Moses’ life as an example to explain what I mean with each. . . so the first is humility or doubt. . . it really a starts with a place of doubt. . . you have to question where you are. . . you have to be seeking something. . . and to be seeking you have to not know. . . or at least not be sure. . . for Moses he doesn’t know who he is really. . . he has been banished from Egypt where he grew up, and he has found some solace in shepherding, but something maybe is missing, at least enough for him to be going up that mountain to see that bush that is on fire, but doesn’t burn. . . and honestly this is why I called humility. . . because it is more about openness. . . because sometimes it comes to you even when you weren’t seeking, but you have to open enough to move on to the next step. . . which is discernment. . .
Discernment is a fancy word for seeking the truth. . . coming to know. . . for Moses the coming to know is in the shape of the burning bush. . . God comes to him and speaks to him. . . tells him who he is. . . that he has been chosen. . . that God has big plans for him. . . that it is time for Moses to go to the Pharaoh and say. . . as Erick so finely sung. . . Let My People God. . . and it’s a bit of a debate. . . He is there talking to God and he isn’t sure. . . discernment is a process. . . some people never get out of it. . . am I sure. . . who am I what should I do. . . that is the question of discernment. . . but Moses has a choice to make, and he decides to go to Egypt to Pharaoh. . . this decision is the next step Resolution.
When you resolve you are deciding to take that first step, and you take it. . . It seems like a small deal. . . because it is so momentary. . . making a decision. . . but how important it is because it takes you from the discernment stage into the next stage which is Perseverance. . . And this is a big deal because Perseverance hangs on the quality of the other two. How good was your discernment? Are you really called? Was it real? Did Moses really see that burning bush? Because he is going to face some adversity. . . Let My People God. . . Pharaoh says no. . . what now? . . . plague 1 still no. . . plague 2 still no. . . all the way to plague 10. . . yeah people put some lambs blood on your door, eat some unleavened bread. . . ignore those wails and screams you hear outside your door. . . with that blood we are safe. . . Perseverance. . . up against the world, its doubts. . . craziness. . . and your resolve is tested. Are you strong enough? This is why Discernment is so important. . . . is God calling  you to this action. . . was God calling you to this action? If the answer to that was yes and is yes, then what can sway you from it? What challenge can you not face? What can be thrown in your way? What can make you quit? Now we have a problem with perseverance these days. . . I think it is because we don’t discern first. . . we go it on our own. .  . or we drift from thing to thing. . . we are not rooted. . . think of Psalm 1. . . those who follow the law of the Lord are rooted. . . finding the Law of the Lord applying it to yourself in the specific sense that is all about discernment. . . If you have discerned what you are to do and who you are what should make you quit. . . no you persevere. . . and Moses does. . . up against Pharaoh. . . up against the sea. . . in the desert with no food. . . no water. . . people questioning him. . . up on the mountain getting the 10 commandments only to come down and find that they have been broken before they’ve even been read. . . the golden calf. . . and so another 40 years of wandering. . . all of it persevered.
The next piece then is Fulfillment. . . and fulfillment and perseverance can happen simultaneously, but usually Perseverance leads to fulfillment, but it doesn’t mean you are done yet. . . that comes later. . . but you have to think that along the way God gave Moses glimmers of hope. . . rays of light. . . dare I say Manna from heaven. . . or water from the stone. . . when he needed it, he was persevering, but along the way he felt like there were things getting done. . . he felt good about it. . . a sense of accomplishment. . . you get that feeling like you were in the right place at the exact right time, that your skills were exactly what was needed. . . I think Moses most have had that too. . . a sense that he was on the right path. . . this is fulfillment. . . it is all coming full circle. . . you may still need to persevere, but it all starts to make sense. . . and the next is legacy. . .
People see what you are doing. . . they are drawn into it. . . there is nothing more attractive than someone who is in the right place at the right time. . . their skills. . .their tenacity. . . their struggle against adversity. . . people see it and want to emulate it. . . and new leaders are born. . . they want to follow in your footsteps. . . this is legacy. . . Joshua is that for Moses. . . he is groomed to take over. . . and he does. . . and finally. . . the last piece is retirement. . . there comes a point in time where your work is done and it is time to pass it on to someone else. Someone else must take the reins and you have to let them. . . stepping aside completely, knowing that you were called, you discerned that you were, you ran the race. . . and now it has come that it is time to set it aside. . . so you do. . . Moses does not enter the Promised Land. . . it is not his lot in life. . . the completion of the mission was not a part of his discerned call. . . . it was time for another to step in. . .
Now if you think about it the pattern for Jesus is similar. . . though we could argue that the first two stages of humility and discernment may take a slightly different form for the Son of God. . . we see it. . . his baptism and call to ministry. . . persevering through life on this Earth. . . though great moments of fulfillment throughout. . . time with people. . . his healings and miracles. . . moments with children. . . . persevering through the cross and death. . . the fulfillment of in his last moments reaching and converting the heart of the criminal hanging on the cross next to him. . . then persevering death and descending into hell. . . only to experience the fulfillment of the resurrection. The legacy he leaves with his disciples, those he was teaching. . . converting them into apostles. . . those he is sending out into the world. . . and then ascending into heaven. . . maybe not full retirement. . . but certainly giving over much to his followers. . . to us. . .
So you can see the flow. . . from Humility. . . enough to not know. . . enough to ask. . . or be open to being led. . . then to discernment. . . seeking who am I. . . what am I being called to do. . . to Resolution. . . deciding to do the thing. . . persevering. . . not allowing yourself to be shaken from it. . . to fulfillment. . . yes I am in the right place at the right time. . . I am right for this work. . . to legacy. . . others see what you are. . . what you are doing. . . maybe that helps them in their own discerning. .  . and finally retirement. . . your time with that is done. . . and it is time to start again. . . a new challenge a new thing. . .because retirement isn’t the same thing as the end. . . just of that. . . time to move to something else. . . . Just like creation after the 7th day of rest, the world keeps turning, and God keeps working. . .Just like Sunday rolling into Monday. . . the weekend ends and a new week begins. . . My examples of Moses and Jesus were lifetimes. . . but they need not be. . . Maybe you are called to a short term thing. . . you discern. . . you persevere . . . you are fulfilled. . . you leave a legacy of it. . . and you pass on. . . Like perhaps being called to serve a 3 year or 6 year term as an elder at church. . . there is a time where the system forces you to take a break, pass on the reins. . . you see this progression is in some ways built into our system. . . though perhaps the natural flow is much more messy than what is proscribed in the Book of Order. . . But the pattern is the same. . . there is a cycle. . . and we each live many cycles. . .
So that is a picture when everything goes right, right. .  . it all makes sense. . . it was good for Moses and Jesus. . . but what is the alternative? Let me go through a couple of scenarios of trouble to show the importance. . . what if you don’t start in a place of humility. . . what if you start in a place of you. . . you decide what you are going to do. . . it doesn’t matter what anyone says or tells you different. . . you get started. . . maybe you will do whatever it takes to get ahead. . . .maybe you will step on anyone to get it done. . . since you didn’t discern from something outside of yourself you aren’t grounded to anything but yourself. . . so why be ethical. . . you are in charge. . . in control. . . do whatever it takes to win. . . just win baby. . . or maybe you aren’t so confident and you get up against some of that adversity and you quit. . . you can’t persevere because there is no foundation to build on, no rock, just you and your fickle mind. . . Like the Preparation I put in your bulletin, the famous Pliable from Pilgrim’s Progress, he gets going, but then at the first sign of adversity he quits. . .I think we see a lot of both in our broken world. . . quitting and doing whatever it takes to win with no sense of things outside of self. . . how much of life would be better if people took the time to see their lives. . . their decisions. . . in a perspective greater than their own. . . and we will talk about this more when we look at how we discern in two weeks. . . the other trouble is that no discerning leads to fragmentation and compartmentalizing of our lives.. . . we don’t see it as all connected. . . instead we are making the rules. . . and we may be living multiple lives at once instead of one. . . . can you see how it leads to problems? What about Legacy and Retirement. .. have you seen people hang on too long. . . not be able to let go. . . often it has become about them. . . and what they have done. . . and they can’t walk away even though it’s time. . . and what is the legacy of the undiscerned life?. . . fragmentation. . . brokenness. . . stagnation.
Our world needs more. . . I think I’m on to something here. . . I think this reflects the natural rhythms of life. . . I believe that it isn’t just individuals but institutions that follow this same pattern. . . Looking back through history you can see it. . . groups of people starting off on the right footing, but then getting away from their original idea. . . quitting. . . not persevering. . . or holding on too long. . . many civilizations or empires have made that mistake. . .they stopped renewing themselves in the pattern. . . they held on too long. . . and got lost. . . The beauty is, and maybe this is where grace fits into this assessment. . . what happens when you fall off the cycle. . .what happens when you can’t resolve. . .you can’t persevere. . . you are unfulfilled. . . or  you hang on too long. . . yup, you get humbled. . . but is not the end of the world. . . but rather the beginning. . . and we are invited to start again. . . It doesn’t matter where your exit is. . . you can always get back in. . . hallelujah and amen to that. . . I’ll ask again. . . Is this right??? I think so. . . let’s look deeper into phase 1, humility next week.