Good morning, Saint Michael's...... OH MY GOSH, I DID IT?
[Congregation laughs and "aawww"'s]
Oh no.... Let me skip right to the point and tell all of you that I CAN'T BELIEVE I DID THAT.
So, I'm Matthew David. I'm the one who just made a huge fo paux here at St. David of Wales Episcopal Church. David, from Saint David's. I took that name from this place. Not Michael. David. Woo!
Hi. I'm here to preach.
[Laughter and applause]
So, I have been serving at St. Michael's. That's my excuse... [banter with someone off mic]. Let me tell you a little bit about this church I have been serving at. St. Michael's has 4 services every Sunday morning. Four services: a 7:30, a 9 o'clock, 11 – all of those in English – and a 1 o'clock in Spanish. It's wonderful. It's a lot. And I have been serving in usually two out of the four services. Sometimes three. But almost always at the 1 o'clock service. La Misa.
Padre Beto, Father Beto, is the priest at the 1 o'clock service. And he said something recently that's just stuck with me, and so I'm bringing it here. The real beauty of it, though, is only revealed when it's spoken in Spanish.
So he says, "Creer en Dios es diferente a confiar en Dios." To belive in God is different than to trust in God.
Creer. Confiar. Believe and trust are two words that sound quite different. Be-lieve....trust. They sound as though they might not have anything to do with each other.
But creer and confiar. Can you hear that subtle differnce in the shape and the sound? I'm sure the choir can, attentive to the vowels. Cre-er...con-fi-ar. Yes?
As a church, we have creeds that describe what we believe. Once I'm done up here we will all join together in singing those ancient words. Many of us know the creeds by heart. The shared practice of reciting ancient words of belief is a part of our Anglican piety. We are well versed in creer, but confiar?
Followers of Jesus trust in God up to a point. When Christians are faced with something we don't fully understand–something that God might be showing us, something beautiful but also disturbing–we might still creer in God... believe in God... but not confiar... trust in God. And I wonder why?
Why is it so hard to trust in God? What keeps us from confiar en Dios?
For the past 6 weeks the focus of scripture was discipleship. Who is Jesus? What does it mean to follow him? What does it mean to be a Christian? Our tradition (so that you know, in care you didn't) offer answers to these questions on page 845 of the red Book of Common Prayer, sitting right in front of you. It's great.
Jesus is the Son of God, the only perfect image of the Father, who shows us the nature of God. That's #1. Two, to follow Jesus is to be a minister and to do the work of Christ out in the world. Specically, to be a Christian is to be baptized and made a member of Christ's body, the Church.
Answers. Those are answers.
But what happens when the answers we're provided don't address the questions that arise when God shows up in ways and in places that we don't expect? When our piety is insufficient, where do we place our trust?
For the past 6 days, since Jesus shared the news of what was coming in Jerusalem, and Peter laid his hands on Jesus and said 'God forbid you have to leave us' and his Lord replied, "Get behind me Satan," poor Peter has been wondering since then the very same thing about his beliefs. Who is Jesus? What does it mean to follow him? Where do I place my trust?
Peter believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. He says so as much before Jesus called him "Satan" back in Chapter 16, verse 16. Peter has no problem with creer en Dios. But confiar? Trust? Why is that so hard for him? Why is it so hard for even one who walked with Jesus to confiar, to trust in the revelation of who he is and what he came to do?
When light poured forth from Jesus as he stood beside the patriarchs, Peter seemed to believe in what he saw. He believed he saw the presence of Moses and Elijah. Moses, the bringer of the Law; the one who, himself, climbed a mountain to receive God’s revelation. He believed he saw Elijah, who heard that still small voice of God while standing on a mountain. And he believed enough that Jesus was deserving of his worship that he said “I’ll make three dwellings here. One for each of you.” Peter had a whole host of beliefs, informed by his tradition. Beliefs on Moses and Elijah. Beliefs on the meaning of Messiah. Answers to pious questions.
But God’s voice interrupted Peter’s piety; God’s command took precedent over Peter’s beliefs.
Scripture says, “A bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved–I love him–with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’” And Peter, James and John fall to the ground, the scripture says, overcome by fear.
Fear in the presence of God is a biblical tradition, and honestly, a sensible response. If the voice of God comes rumbling through Saint David of Wales Episcopal Church I may be the first one laying prostrate on this well-worn, ancient carpet.
What if the remedy for fear is trust?
I say that, but I’m not sure I could do it. I mean, Peter couldn’t, and he’s the rock upon which this church was built! God, stop the mountain, reveals who Jesus is, and in the process reveals the very thing holding Peter back from trusting God: his own fear.
When I first preached in Spanish at St. Michael's I was afraid. The second time I preached the 1 o’clock I was still afraid. Ever time I [proclaim] the Gospel—el Evangelio—a good bit of fear runs through my blood. I tell this to Beto, and you know what he says?
“Eh...Confiar en Dios.” Trust in God.
Confiar en Dios is what Jesus does when he goes to be baptized by John.
Confiar en Dios is what Jesus means when he says “The Father and I are one.”
Confiar en Dios is what Peter does when he left it all behind to follow Jesus.
Confiar en Dios is what we do when we pray together.
Confiar en Dios is what happens when we join one another at God's table.
I mean, mijos, confiar en Dios is everything.
When Peter’s lying on the ground enveloped in his fear, the Son of God approaches him, touches him, and says, Get up. Do not be afraid. The road ahead is weary, and for now keep this secret. They won’t understand it. And you probably don’t either. But Jerusalem is coming, and I’ve told you what comes with it.
Three days from now, this mountain well behind us, with ashes on our foreheads we start our journey to the cross. And we may plan a pious Lent, or we may choose to overlook it altogether, but either way we cannot know what God will do to interrupt it. For God is God, and–friends–we are not.
So I ask you: What will you do when the interruption comes? When your questions go unanswered and your beliefs falls short? Will you look up and see only Jesus, saying to you, Get up. Do not be afraid.
I mean really.... I can't think of a better translation for confiar en Dios.
This is what Jesus says to us when God has come and interrupted our lives.