Why does it take some of us so many years and so many tears to become who we were all along? I wonder how many of us are unhappy or unsatisfied or unfulfilled because we've been dreaming the wrong dream.... Maybe what we need is a new dream, one that is better suited to who we really are. Despite what you hear or may have been told, we were not put on this planet to live the American Dream. Besides, we are finding, as our economy becomes more globalized and our lives become entwined with people in Thailand and Bangladesh and Honduras, that our living the American Dream means that countless others will never get a chance to. As pleasant as that life may be, God is calling us to a different life, a more purposeful life.
On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus doesn't have a plan, except to fit into God's plan. "Not what I want," he says, "But what you want." [Matthew 26:39] And God's plan is far more open-ended than we might think. God doesn't have it all planned out ahead of time. When it comes to life in all of its complexities and all of it possibilities, God is far more creative and innovative than we can begin to imagine. Are you willing to take the risk of trusting that God can do something different, something new, something wonderful with you? Then I have some steps for you. Most of us don't like risk, so to give up your dis-hope will take some real discipline and patience. Dis-hope can be a bad habit. It can be an addictive pattern of thinking. Like giving up any other addiction, we have to do it one step at a time. With a tip of my hat to AA, here are my twelve steps for getting from despair to hope, from fear to trust.
In our Gospel reading this morning, the Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness not to avoid temptation, but to meet it head on, so that he could learn to resist it and to conquer it. There were things at the very start of his ministry that he had to learn to say "no" to. So he went into the wilderness because he had to say "no" to the devil before he could fully say "yes" to God. There was no other way for him to learn but by testing. In fact, that's how we all learn.
If the Church is going to be the Body of Christ today, we are the ones who need transfiguration. And I'm not talking about building new worship spaces or playing new music or using the latest technology. That's not what the Nones are looking for. The transfiguration I'm talking about is more fundamental than that. What we need is a reformation. Next year is the 500th anniversary of the first Protestant Reformation, and we are way over due for a second one. In the twenty-first century, if we don't let people of other faiths or no faith challenge us, if we don't let science teach us, if we don't let Christian doctrines grow and change with us, the world will one day be full of Nones and in the Church there will be next to no one.