I chose the theme song from the Littlest Hobo for our opening quote today in the bulletin because I think it expresses something similar to our Bible readings today – a sense that there is more to the world, more happening, than meets the eye… and also a sense that we are all on a journey, all seeking something.
So where do you find yourself this weekend? What is on your mind? Are you feeling like you would like to settle down more, have less to do, be able to sit on the couch and do nothing; or are you feeling like you wish you could have a vacation, wish you could go away somewhere, wish something, anything would happen?
Human beings are funny things, we are, for the most part not content. We are restless in that we are always thinking about something else. But this is part of human nature, part of who we are deep down in our souls.
Augustine, a famous bishop from the early years of the church once said, my soul is restless until it finds it rest in God.
And I really think that might be true. We are made for change, we are made for growth, we are made restless…
Of course, the world is continually changing around us. As much as we sometimes want to stop the spinning wheel and get off things are different today than they were yesterday and tomorrow they will be different again.
Is that human nature? Is that the way we were intended to live? Why are we on a journey and where are we going… all will be revealed… well… maybe not, but perhaps we can explore that little today.
Heading on Up to Heaven
So first up, change happens. It is inevitable. And as you are all well aware, there are different ways to react to the way the world changes around us.
I want you to realize that there is a lot going on in the story of Elijah and Elisha, but at the very simplest level, Elijah is going to die, and Elisha knows it.
You see, what is happening here is that everything is changing, and everyone knows it. Elijah keeps saying, stay here, you have done enough. Elisha keeps going each and every time. Elijah asks what he wants, and he says to follow in your footsteps, to inherit the family business, and Elijah responds that if it were up to him, he would…
Now, we can talk about prophets, about miracles, about followers… but what is really happening here is that things change. And sometimes, we are ready for the journey, and sometimes we want things to stay the same.
Remember Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane prayed to God that if there were any other way besides the crucifixion, he would like to know about it now… we don’t always want change.
But still, it happens. So here is where I get back to human nature. We can do one of two things, we can deny change, stick our heads in the sand, wish for things to be different – or we can accept it and answer the question, so what now? What do I need to get through this?
I like to think that each and every thing that happens to me is an opportunity, a challenge, a moment where I get to choose to re-invent myself and find new ways to cope and new ways to get through things. I know I am sometimes actually sad and depressed when things change, but on my good days I see that there is opportunity.
So change happens, and it still seems like how we react is the main thing that matters.
A Hole in the Ground
My kids had a book I read them when they were little. It was a simple little book about a stray cat looking for a place to sleep. It always made me think of this Bible passage. That cat finds that hanging upside down like a bat is too hard, or that living in a burrowed hole in the ground like a fox is too dirty… so where is the place for it?
Perhaps this goes back to my original point about how we are restless. And the truth is most of the time we are restless AND heading somewhere. We have goals, or tasks to accomplish, and we are heading out there to do them… but the thing is that life gets in the way… it can feel like no one understands or appreciates, it can feel like we are all alone…
If you think of this Bible reading about Jesus as a video, what would you think the expression of Jesus’ face might be? I think he would be somewhere between two things – certain and lonely.
Here he is, heading off to do what he knows must be done; but it feels no one wants to come along, no one wants to support him… and that is rough.
You see, as much as we want change and are restless; as much as, like Elisha, we are trying to make the best of things and move forward… there is always this one little stumbling block, the fact that most people are also comfortable with how things are.
I know this sounds like a contradiction, and it is. But it also seems to be true, we would like to change things, but we also want things to remain the same…. And that really makes living life hard.
And it makes it hard for people who decide to go ahead and change things. They get misunderstood, they get to feeling lonely, they have to change things and work on that journey from here to there and take scary first steps… and we fight against them.
Ever tried to change anything and discovered people did not really want you to change? You probably have. And it is hard.
But change is inevitable. Life is constantly changing, and so are we. I wonder what would happen if we stopped fighting against it.
Okay, you may have realized this entire sermon has been circling around a theme without naming one, without making any conclusions, without drawing on any facts even – everything I have said has been pretty abstract without any specific details… change happens, sometimes we are prepared, sometimes we fight against it.
People will tell you that a sermon should have some Good News, which is what Jesus was always all about, helping people to find the good news in their lives….
I guess in my own meandering way the sermon was trying to show what life is really like… you don’t know what is going to happen or where you are going.
When I started, way back at the introduction I asked you to think about your own life… about what is happening in it…
Here is mine – I am feeling old lately. I am slowing down and the way I have lived is making my body prematurely old. My kids are growing up and I am missing huge chunks of it. That thing that happens where time speeds up as you age has so overtaken me that it feels like I cannot remember anything happening between Christmas and now…
So what are the things that are making you feel that things change too fast? Someone could die, work could change, people will come in and out of your lives, your grandkids could grow up without you noticing…. And some of you may be feeling old too….
But here is the thing. We were made for this. That is the good news. We are people who are restlessly driven into the future, who change, who adapt… and we find new meaning, and hope.
We were created to embrace life in all of its fullness, no matter where we find ourselves in it. So look around, find out where you really are, and live…
God will be with you in the details.