Call to Adventure

I am not particularly comfortable with preaching on current events. I prefer to stick to my own take of the morning’s Gospel reading. So I was thrilled that my maternity leave overlapped with our latest Presidential election as well as many other challenging situations. I not so secretly thought, whew! I’m off the hook for this one. So I found it ironic that my name appeared on the preaching Rota for the Sunday after the inauguration. Touche. I guess I am not totally off the hook, because I think I would be remiss to ignore the events of this weekend this morning.

         However you feel about our most recent election and our new President, the last few months have likely made you somewhat uncomfortable. Our 24/7 news loop has been busier than ever. I rarely talk to anyone these days who doesn’t ask me if I have heard the latest on the new cabinet or the world refugee crisis or the most recent terrorist attack. Much of the news of the last year has been so upsetting that social media has been full of jokes about 2016 being the worst year ever. My point is that the last few months haven’t been the most cheerful news-wise.  

         So while I’m not sure that I agree that 2016 was the worst year ever it has certainly been an uncomfortable time for many people. So what can we do in this uncomfortable place? We could pretend that we aren’t uncomfortable. Or we could decide that this place of discomfort is our “call to adventure.”

         In this morning’s Gospel reading, Jesus has traveled to Galilee after learning that John the Baptist has been arrested. Jesus surely knows that this isn’t good news for him. If John has been arrested, Jesus’ own arrest cannot be far away. I would imagine Jesus was a little uneasy, but He moves ahead with his ministry of preaching and gathering disciples. He sees two brothers fishing, Simon Peter and Andrew, and he says to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” They immediately drop their nets and follow him. He then sees two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John and calls to them in the same way. Again they immediately drop everything and follow him. This abrupt call to ministry is clearly the beginning of something.

         Some of you may have heard of Joseph Campbell who did some important work on the archetypal stories found in cultures around the world. His notion of the hero’s journey can be applied to many of our beloved books and of course matches the story of Christ in many ways. Campbell spoke of the beginning of things as the “call to adventure.” Moments like Jesus’ call to these fisherman can best be described as a “call to adventure.” Moments like this suggest “that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity to a zone unknown.”[1] All of us will face a moment like this; a moment that challenges our spiritual center of gravity. So perhaps right now is your moment, your call to adventure. Maybe our feelings of discomfort will send us on journeys that will move our own story to a larger context. 

         While thinking of this call to adventure, I thought of the author Madeline L’Engle’s words on creation. “If I affirm that the universe was created by a power of love, and that all creation is good, I am not proclaiming safety. Safety was never part of the promise. Creativity, yes; safety, no. All creativity is dangerous…To write a story or paint a picture is to risk failure. To love someone is to risk that you may not be loved in return, or that the love will die. But love is worth that risk, and so is birth, its fulfillment.”[2]

With this in mind, I pray that we take on the risk of creation, that we answer our call to adventure. Whatever this looks like to you. This is time to write a book, plant the garden for spring, make a new friend, get ordained, start school again, snuggle with your baby, join a cause, finish up your degree, drive kids to soccer, join a choir, adopt a pet, start a group, or pray without ceasing.

Do not be afraid. Take up the risk of creation and answer your own call to adventure. Amen.



[1] Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949; reprint, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968), 58.