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Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 12, 2013

FLAT IMPOSSIBLE   

Prof. Patricia G. Bleicher

In the name of God the Source of who we are, God the Example of how we should love, and God the Presence with us now. Amen.         

Every once in a while, we do something that we literally cannot do. Something not possible. It may be physical, emotional, spiritual, whatever…but the one thing that’s certain is that we cannot do it. And yet we do. 

If you had asked me, before or after, whether I could lift a Volkswagen, I would definitely have said No way. Nope, not me…car lifting is not within the range of possibilities for my physical self. And yet, one day many years ago, an old Volkswagen was lifted, and my hands were involved. We were at the beach, the sand shifted, my horrified children were watching, and my crazy husband was under that car. I called to God for help, and I picked up a car. 

Perhaps you’re thinking: The front, sure, but an old VW has the engine in the back. No, it was the back I lifted. Flat impossible. Yet there it was, done; crisis averted. How can that be? 

Well, a secular humanist might say that we never know what a person is capable of doing in a crisis; we have so much more potential than we use…and there’s some truth to that, but even the human heart has its limits. 

What is the thing you actually did, that you truly could not do? Lift an old, battered gray Volkswagen just high enough off the sand, or survive the loss of your beloved? End all that drinking and drugging? Keep loving the one who despises you? Forgive the one who betrays you? Stop yourself from abusing others when abuse is all you’ve ever known? What’s your story?

That’s an important questions, because we need to share our stories; we need to reflect on things are just flat impossible for human beings, yet we do them. And as we share, remember that, over and over his whole life long, Jesus kept quoting the prophet Jeremiah:  With God, nothing is impossible. It’s so important, we must keep repeating as he did:  With God, nothing is impossible.

When we ponder Bible events, we may say: Okay, possible for Jesus, but for me: not happenin’. Incarnation means that’s the wrong dividing line. Here’s another line to draw, whatever your subject matter: This thing is flat impossible in ways I have imagined, but in ways God can imagine? Amazing!  Think about resurrection, the ultimate impossible, and yet: With God, nothing is impossible.

Then, as we ponder these things, we discover something more…we see revealed what God wants; we begin to discern the will of God. What is it God yearns for? Witnesses, people who will tell the story of what happened. People who will live the Good News. People who are so very grateful for what has been given them, that their joy spills over into the lives of others around them. People who demonstrate what it means to love God and one’s neighbor. Indeed, people for whom love is the only verb that matters.

Listen: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses…”  Can’t do public speaking, Moses? Here’s your bold and eloquent brother Aaron. Can’t be a prophet because you’re just a kid? No worries, Jeremiah; I’ll send you with a message even a child could understand. Jesus says you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, Ann and Barbara and Del and Liz and Galen and John and you…you will receive power, and you will be my witnesses. It will lift you.

The other side of this message is that, when I’m not receiving power, it’s apt to be that I’m headed the wrong way…all those doors slamming shut are a pretty clear sign that I’m in a lonely place with the power shut off. I need to reorient myself toward God, and look forward to the moment the lights come back on. Sometimes reorienting means moving out of a powerless situation – remember the place where Jesus could do nothing because of their lack of faith? – sometimes it means giving up things that drain power, but most often it means changing my heart. What would that mean for you?

One thing that’s sure, however, is what I’m meant to do, as I wait in the dark: review the testimony of other witnesses, because often there’s a message of hope hidden for me there. Each of us is one tiny droplet in the “great cloud of witnesses.”  The stories of the other droplets, in this Bible and in these pews today, are stories of em-power-ment, of what the Holy Spirit can do with even as unlikely a person as we may be. It will lift you.

How can we predict what we will be called to, that we cannot do but, with the Holy Spirit’s help, we do in fact do? As you pray this week, reflect on the cars you have lifted, the unbearable things you have borne, the evil things you have survived, the transitions you have moved through into new goodness…then remember what Jesus said is meant to come next: “You will be my witnesses.”

Listen, it will lift you, and you will be my witnesses. You.
Listen to his testimony: “With God, nothing is impossible.” 
Listen to other Bible testimonies: “With God, nothing is impossible.”
Listen to each other’s testimony: “With God, nothing is impossible.”
Join me as we give testimony today: “With God, nothing is impossible.” 

Amen.

   - Prof. Patricia G. Bleicher