Your Life is a Lesson
The Rev. Sara Cosca-Warfield
Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:15-4:5
Today’s epistle from the second letter of Timothy warns us about a time that is coming “when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth.”
I take my role as your leader very seriously. I cherish your trust and am mindful that it is my sacred responsibility to live and minister in such a way that nurtures that trust week after week.
I, as a leader and a teacher, do not want to be beyond reproach. It’s true that I had to obtain a lot of education, do a lot of on-the-job pastoral training, and endure a lot of rigorous scrutiny of my life and spirituality to be in the role I’m in now. And that’s a good thing. You all need a leader who has been tested and vetted.
That process and all my experiences leading up to my ordination and now to this role, here with you, has made me confident in my understanding of the scriptures, in my belief in how the Spirit is moving through this world, calling us to live God’s love. It’s made me confident in what I preach.
I need to step into that confidence, I need to step into that authority for you to trust me. I need to embody who I am authentically in order to be a spiritual leader, your spiritual leader.
But that doesn’t mean I am beyond reproach. That doesn’t mean my way of interpreting our faith is the end-all, be-all of interpreting our faith.
If something I preach makes you uncomfortable, it’s up to you to discern whether it’s because God is calling you to live and move in a different way that might feel daunting or scary, or because it’s actually rubbing against how you authentically understand our faith. Either is a good reason to come talk to me. And my door is always open.
You need to step into your confidence just like I need to step into my confidence. Confidence in your own experience, in your own faith. We all need to trust who we authentically are and we all need to live who we authentically are. Because fully embodying who we are is how we are most faithful to how God created us. And if you remember from Genesis, everything God created God called good.
“I solemnly urge you,” this letter to Timothy says, “proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.”
We are all teachers. Because the way you live is a lesson to all who witness you. I’m going to say that again. The way you live is a lesson to all who witness you.
Will you do the hard thing in the face of injustice, even though it might be uncomfortable? Even though it might require sacrifice? Because both the people who are suffering injustice and and the people benefiting from it are watching to see what you do.
Will you be the weird and beautiful person God created you to be even if people don’t understand? Even if they might laugh? Because some quiet person in the corner who is afraid of showing their weird and beautiful self is watching to see what you do.
And I know each of us has been the person watching to see what someone else does. We’ve been in that very long line at the grocery store watching someone count out their change, hoping they have enough for their groceries. We look around to see who’s fuming and to see who’s got those caring, sympathetic eyes, and we’re ready to take our cue. I’ve been that closeted gay kid in the 90s watching how people respond to two men holding hands as they walk down the street.
The way you live is a lesson to all who witness you. Just as I am a teacher to you not only through my sermons but also in the way I live, in the choices you see me make, you are a teacher in the way you live, with the choices you make. A teacher to your children, your coworkers, your neighbors. To strangers at the grocery store.
We get to practice embodying how God made us right here in this St. Luke’s community. In this safe space. With each other. We get to practice making choices according to how God is calling us, even when those choices are hard. We get to practice being vulnerable, being honest even when it’s uncomfortable. With each other. In this place.
We can practice here because we know we are loved in this St. Luke’s community. We know there is grace in this St. Luke’s community.
At least I hope that that’s how we experience this place. And if you don’t feel safe here, I hope you’ll tell me. Or if you don’t feel comfortable talking to me, I hope you feel safe telling our Senior Warden Mel Foresman. Or any of our Vestry members.
More than anything, I hope St. Luke’s is a place where you feel empowered to be who you are, to become who God made you to be, and to practice stepping into your faith even when it’s challenging, even when it’s uncomfortable.
So that you can leave this place feeling confident in the ways your life is a lesson in God’s love for all who witness you.