Pastor Bob Woods: But to be a butterfly

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— When I was a child, I kept a caterpillar in a jar.

I watched while it grew, watched it hang upside down and then saw it change into a chrysalis. When the time was right, the butterfly emerged from the chrysalis transformed, and then I set it free.

What does a caterpillar feel as it climbs up a stick, ties itself on, and drops upside down? I wonder whether there can be anything scarier than taking such a leap. Change and transformation involve risk, doubt and fear. What will I become? What will happen? What if something goes wrong?

There's nothing wrong with being a caterpillar, and I wonder whether sometimes a caterpillar would rather just stay a caterpillar.

But to be a butterfly.

All too often we are like that caterpillar. We know that there is something bigger and more profound that we have been called to become. We know that without change, we may die a caterpillar.

And yet, we fear the leap, the risk.

The call of paradise is to risk becoming a new person. Whether we understand resurrection and paradise as metaphorical or literal, are we willing to be transformed, resurrected and called into paradise?

What transformation is waiting for you? What butterfly are you called to become? Are you willing to face your fear of the unknown and risk baptism into paradise?

Jesus promises us a place in paradise. Think for a moment about how nice it is to have your place. A place where you simply belong. A place of dignity and worth because you are one of God's children. A place where you are not afraid of being thrown out because the rent hasn't been paid.

But I have a question for you this morning. What if the place in paradise that Jesus has prepared for you is the place where you are right now?

When we pray the Lord's prayer, we pray for God's kingdom to come "on earth, as it is in heaven," don't we? What if it already came and we just don't know it? If that were the case, how would our values and the way we live our lives be any different?

I think this is the case, and that it should make a difference. So why don't we just live and love and work as if we already have arrived in the place Jesus has prepared for us?

What have we got to lose? Are you willing to face your fears of the unknown and risk being transformed, resurrected and called into paradise?

God makes people beautiful inside. It is up to us to bring that beauty out by loving one another, helping one another. What's stopping you from emerging as a butterfly? What are you waiting for? Amen.

Any questions? Call Pastor Bob at First Congregational United Church of Christ 824-6836.

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