I know you don’t want to hear the preacher say something like this, but “just before I get started”…I need to thank a couple of people for what they have done for us in the last week. One, I need to thank the grow team in general, and in particular Dennis and Laura for connecting us with mentor-sponsors. That really added a new dimension to this whole trip.
I also need to thank all our chaperones. You’ll see them seated over here in green. The chaperones knew where we were going, and they came anyway. In fact, every one of the chaperones was excited and thrilled to be a part of getting on a bus with 45 crazy teens and driving all the way to LA. I’m not sure why. You can ask them.
I will thank in absentia our bus driver because the sopranos told me I had to. When I texted him to tell him we had landed in Atlanta, he said, “I’m three hours from landing in flagstaff.” He has today off, so I want to remember Mark.
And last but certainly not least, I want to say a word of thanks to Neil for coming with us. He is an amazing accompanist.
All week long we’ve been embracing the mystery. The questions I asked the youth before we left were what is mystery, what does it mean to embrace it, and why should we? Because if we’re going to go out and tell people they need to embrace the mystery we should get a feel for what that means exactly. And their answers were really profound. I can show you. I have them all written down upstairs. If you want them, see me after class. Most of them said mystery is the unknown, but mystery is more than the unknown. Mystery is the not knowable. And because it is not knowable, a couple of people said there is an important part of mystery, and that’s it has to be a little bit scary. There’s a little fear involved in mystery, otherwise it’s not really mystery; it’s just something you don’t know. Someone gave a really funny example. What I ate for breakfast. You don’t know what I ate for breakfast. That’s not really a mystery. That’s just something you don’t know. But if I add…what are you going to have breakfast tomorrow, especially if you are someone for whom that is not a given, then there’s an element of fear.
And then I said what does it mean to embrace the unknown, and embracing the unknown means that...I liked how one person said it. “Just understand that we don’t know everything, and that’s ok.” It’s the “that’s ok” that’s where the embrace comes in. It’s amazing. Guys, this is coming from 6th to 12th graders. We don’t know everything, and that’s ok.
And then why should we embrace the mystery? Because if we don’t, we’re going to miss something. We’re going to miss something of what we’re supposed to be doing here. We’re going to miss something of our call.
You can say what you want about Peter in the scripture today, but when Jesus said, “Come,” Peter got out of the boat, y’all. Can you imagine that? There’s a storm at sea, and the boat is your only safety and the wind is crazy, and the waves are all that and a bucket of chicken, and Peter stepped out of the boat. We give him a bum rap because he sank, but he didn’t sink at first. He was doing it, y’all. Peter was doing it! Why did he sink? He sank because he became frightened. Because he started to fear. Y’all, that’s normal.
There’s a lot to be afraid of. In our world there’s a ton to be afraid of. Specifically, at least where I am right now, and I may be the only one, and I’m cool with that…the past is cause for a lot of fear about the future. It informs our expectation of the future. And that doesn’t matter if the past has been great. If your past has been fantastically wonderful, then you might fear it’s going to change. That’s why when you say something is going well, “Hey we’ve been on time so far today,” You knock on wood. Or it may be the opposite. It may be that you’ve had such a rough go of it that you’re afraid it’s not going to change at all. You’re afraid that tomorrow is going to be just like yesterday, and the day after that is going to be just like the day before yesterday. Maybe that’s what you’re afraid of. But these things shape what we expect for the future, and they blind us to this truth: that what we do now shapes our future.
The call we answer now is what determines what our future is going to look like. Not what yesterday looked like. If it was great, if it was horrible, it doesn’t matter. What determines what we’re going to do going forward is our faith.
To me, that’s what embracing the mystery really means. That we’re going to stand up. That right now, today, we’re going to start answering the call if we haven’t before, or were going to keep on if it’s hard, or we’re going to keep on because that’s what we’ve always done and you’re a better person than I am. That’s what embracing the mystery means. And honestly that’s what we’ve been doing this past week. We’ve been going out. We’ve been walking on the water.
There’s one more thing. Peter eventually sank, and the truth is that all of us will eventually sink. No question. It’s not a matter of if. It’s just a matter of when. How long is it going to take for us to be afraid? But read the scripture again. All you have to do is reach out a hand, and God is there. So we’ve got some work to do. We are at a very exciting place, you and me. Let’s all get out of the boat. Let’s all walk on that water.