By: Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge

This Sunday, April 15, 2018, we continue our Via Transformativa theme of “You Crack Me Up!” During this quarter, we’ll be exploring how the Holy “cracks” us open to reveal the true divine, spirit that dwells within each of us. 

This Sunday, we used music from Ben Lee to learn how the Holy can crack open our fearful ego if we’re willing to step outside our comfort zone and gamble everything for love. Deb Varn and Candace Chellew-Hodge also shared original songs with us.

From the Hebrew scriptures: Exodus 2: 1-10: She named him Moses, because, she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
From the Jesus Story: Luke 5: 1-11: Do not afraid. From now on you will be catching people.
From A Course in Miracles, Manual for Teachers: You think you made a place of safety for yourself.

Song used in the sermon: Gamble Everything for Love by Ben Lee

Sermon excerpt:

One of the reasons many people, including myself, don’t like to take risks is because we are convinced that if we do, we will lose something of value – or that the status quo of our lives will be destroyed. This is the ego’s trump card, so to speak. It tells us that if we take risks, we’ll be asked to sacrifice something meaningful. We may get a rush of “feeling alive,” but in the end, everything will change in our lives, and not for the better.

This is what keeps us clinging to the relative safety of the shore of life, like the crowds in today’s Jesus story, instead of taking the risk to head out for the deeper water with the Holy there to guide us. Leaving the shore – or getting into that plane – and heading for deeper water – or flinging ourselves into midair – leads to nothing but destruction, according to the ego. And it’s right. Because if we do dare to go deeper, to go higher, and take a chance on what the Holy calls us to do, the ego will be destroyed. It knows that, so it does all it can to keep us from heeding the call to live into that higher self.

But, today’s Jesus story shows us how the Holy can crack open that fearful ego – not by issue a call to us to take a chance, but by allowing us to come to our own epiphany that living in the ego’s status quo equals death and not life. In this scene, Jesus is surrounded by a crowd who wants to hear him preach. Jesus spots some fishermen and their boats and gets in the boat with a guy named Simon who he asks to take him out into the lake so he can speak to the crowd.

After a little while, he asks Simon to go into deeper water and do some fishing. Simon balks, telling Jesus they’ve been fishing all night out there and have nothing to show for it. Jesus asks Simon to take a little risk – to trust him on this and go deeper.

Simon, like all good risk-takers, is game, and he gets a payoff – a haul of fish so large it starts to sink the boats trying to take it all in.

This is what A Course in Miracles would call a “Holy Instant.” This is the moment that Simon realizes he’s been trapped for too long in his fearful ego and sees what kind of life he could have if he took a risk on listening to the lessons this guy Jesus has to teach him. In the language of Christianity, Simon has an epiphany – a sudden realization – a deep knowledge – that he’s in the presence of something Holy.

This is how the Holy cracks open the ego and encourages us to take a risk to escape the ego – not by forcing us out of our comfort zone, but by coming to us in magnificent ways in the mundane tasks of the day. Simon was a fisherman, so Jesus knew the best way to crack open his ego wasn’t to take him skydiving, it was to take him fishing. It is in the ordinary moments of our lives that the Holy breaks us open and gives us a magnificent display of what’s possible when we overcome the ego. Our boats – our lives – will be overflowing with abundance and blessings, often to the point of overwhelming us.

Which is why we can fully understand Simon’s first reaction to this miraculous moment: Fear. Simon falls to his knees before Jesus and begs him to go away. Simon says he’s a “sinful” man, meaning he doesn’t feel worthy of all of life’s goodness being spilled out all over him. How many times have we reacted to the Holy’s outpouring of blessing and abundance in our own lives, crying that we’re not worthy of all the good things that may come our way.

Why do we react with fear? Because we believe that leaving the ego and living in our true, divine self will mean that we’ll have to sacrifice something that we love. It’s true that if we escape the ego’s fear-based chattering and live fully into the loving thoughts and actions of our higher self our lives will drastically change. The ego tells us that will be painful, but it’s a lie. Breaking free of the ego simply means that we’re no longer controlled by fear. We’re no longer feeling unworthy to be blessed by this life. We’re no longer afraid to gamble everything for love.

Things will be different if we take a risk and seek to overcome the ego and live as the loving beings God has created us to be. We, like Simon, will be fishing for people in this world.

That is not a call to go and evangelize the world, though, forcing them to believe as we do. Instead, if we look at the more literal translation of that passage, we’ll see that what Jesus says to Simon is this: “You will be spending your time restoring people to life and strength.” That, Jubilants, is our true vocation in this world lifting this veil of separation and restoring everyone we meet to life and strength.

Breathe deeply.

Listen to the full sermon.

Listen to the full celebration.

Here’s your assignment this week:  I invite you this week, Jubilants, to get out of your fearful comfort zone – even if it’s in small ways. You don’t have to jump out of a plane or leave your job behind, just notice that when you’re having a fearful moment and find a way to take even a baby step toward love in that situation. I believe you’ll find that if you gamble even a little bit on love, you’ll find that love returned to you ten-fold in big and small ways, and that will make you say: “Oh, Yeah!”

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