Monroe Congregational Church, U.C.C.
March 11, 2001 - Pastor Diane Schmitz

"I must be on my way," said Jesus. He was not going to be stopped by fears of the future; he was not going to be distracted by others. He was leading where the voice of God beckoned him.

This brief peek we get at Jesus' journey in Luke this morning is only the surface of what was an unimaginably difficult journey. But, it tells us some important things. The Pharisees, often thought to be the enemy, befriended Jesus by warning him of Herod. Jesus named Herod as a fox, sly and cunning, but not able to have power over him. His power came from God; he trusted in that.

We hear Jesus say, "I do cures today and tomorrow," and "today, tomorrow and the next day I must be on my way." Jesus is focused on the present and the future; not on the past.

He laments over Jerusalem and how indifferent it is to his attempts to gather the people under his love. He is aware of how the people there stone those who bring a prophetic voice. "Your house is left to you," he says, knowing that they have forsaken what is the true home of their spirit for the safe and comfortable houses they have built that keep out God.

Following the voice of God and embarking on a journey of transformation is something we are all called to do. We are invited to be on our way towards a deeper and more integral relationship with God in our lives.

We are called as individuals and we are called as a church. As our church travels on its way, it will also experience trials. Prophets speaking within our community may be stoned and quieted by the voices that resist change. As Jesus shows us, we need to keep our focus on the present and the future and not be held back by an inordinate attachment to the past. Together we will challenge ourselves to be created anew, support ourselves as we meet our fears and approach our future with boldness.

We will look with new eyes and make our world bigger. It will not be easy; it will be risky. We will be called to give up parts of ourselves that are known and comfortable. But, by trusting and following the voice that beckons us we will see sacred things and experience the holy mystery in ways we could not before even imagine.

Here is a Native American story about a journey:

Once there was a mouse . . . he was a busy mouse scurrying around the fields, looking for seeds. Once in a while he would hear an odd sound. Lifting his head, squinting to see with his whiskers wiggling, he would wonder what was that sound?

One day he asked a fellow mouse, "Do you hear a roaring in your ears?" "I hear nothing," said the other mouse. He asked other mice, but they just began to look at him strangely thinking him foolish.

The mouse decided to forget the whole matter, but the sound persisted. One day he decided to investigate the sound just a little. He left the other busy mice and ventured out a way where he listened: There it was again!

Suddenly, someone said, "Hello, little brother." It was a raccoon that told him the roaring in his ears was the river. "What is a river?" asked the curious mouse. "Come with me and I'll show you," answered the raccoon.

The mouse was afraid to go see the roaring noise; but he was also determined to find out once and for all about it. Little mouse followed the raccoon on strange paths, with his little heart pounding in his chest. Finally they came to the river. It was huge and breathtaking. "It is pp-powerful!" the little mouse said, fumbling for words.

The raccoon then introduced the little mouse to a frog sitting on a rock in the river. "Aren't you afraid?" he asked the frog. "No," said the frog. "I have been given the gift to live both above and within the river." "Amazing," said the mouse. The frog asked the mouse if we would like some medicine power. "Oh yes, if it is possible," said the mouse. "Then, crouch down as low as you can and then jump as high as your are able," said the frog. The little mouse crouched down as low as he could and jumped up as high as w\he could and while up in the air he saw the sacred mountains; the most beautiful ones he had every seen. Then, he fell back to earth and landed in the river. Wet and frightened, he accused the frog: "You have tricked me." The frog replied, "Don't let your fear and anger blind you to the beautiful sight you have just seen. You now have a new name: you are Jumping Mouse."

Jumping mouse thanked him and returned home to tell the other mice of his experience, but he found disappointment. They would not listen to him. They thought it strange that he was wet when there had been no rain. He lived with them again but he could not forget his vision of the sacred mountains. Eventually he left his home on a journey to find the mountains. As he began to go out onto the prairie, he looked up for eagles. The sky was full of many spots, each one an eagle that could eat him. But, he was determined so he gathered his courage and ran just as fast as he could onto the prairie; his little heart pounded with excitement and fear.

He came to a stand of sage where he met an old mouse that told him that the mountains were just a myth and suggested the mouse forget his passion and stay where it was safe. But little mouse, remembering the power of the sacred mountains persisted in his journey.

Farther on he ran, over rough ground, feeling the shadows of the spots of eagles on his back as he ran. He came to a stand of chokecherries; it was cool, there was water, seeds to eat, grasses for nests, holes to explore. "I would be foolish to leave this," he thought. Suddenly, he heard heavy breathing.

He discovered a Great Buffalo lying there who was sick and dying. "Hello, little brother; thank you for visiting me," it said. It explained that only the eye of a mouse could heal it. "But, little brother, there is no such thing as a mouse." Jumping mouse was shocked and hurried back to the chokecherries where he thought about how the buffalo would die. He went back to the buffalo and shakily said, "I am a mouse, and you my brother, are a Great Being. I cannot let you die. I have two eyes, so you may have one of them." The minute he said that, Jumping Mouse's eye flew out of his head and the buffalo was made whole.

The buffalo stood to his feet and out of gratitude offered to go to the foot of the Sacred Mountains with jumping mouse running under his belly so that the eagles would not see him. Jumping Mouse ran under the buffalo, secure from the spots in the sky but frightened because he only had the use of one eye and he was concerned the buffalo's hooves would land on him. When they reached the foot of the mountains the buffalo said goodbye. Soon after, the mouse ran upon a gray wolf sitting and doing nothing.

"Hello, Brother Wolf," Jumping Mouse said. "Wolf! Wolf! Yes, that is what I am." But then his mind dimmed again and soon he was completely without memory as to who he was. "Such a great Being but he has no memory," thought Jumping Mouse. He was quiet for some time and then made up his mind. "Brother wolf, I will give you one of my eyes and it will heal you." When he stopped speaking, the eye flew out of his head and the wolf was made whole. The blind mouse could not see the tears what ran down the cheeks of the wolf. "I will guide you into the sacred mountains to a great medicine lake," said the wolf. They arrived there and jumping mouse drank the water from the lake. "I must leave you here so I can return and guide others," said the wolf. Jumping Mouse understood but as the wolf left, he sat trembling with fear.

It was no use running for he was blind; he knew an eagle would find him here. He felt a shadow and heard the sound that eagles make. He braced himself; the eagle hit and Jumping Mouse went to sleep.

Then he woke up. He was surprised that now he could see; things were blurry, but the colors were beautiful. A blurry shape came towards him and a voice said, "Hello, brother, do you want some medicine?" "Yes, yes," said the mouse. "Then crouch down as low as you can, the voice said, "and Jump as High as you Can. The mouse did as he was instructed and when he jumped the wind caught him and carried him higher. "Do not be afraid," the voice called to him. "Hang on to the wind and trust!"

Jumping Mouse did. He saw the sacred mountains and way below his old friend, frog, out on the beautiful medicine lake. "You have a new name," called the frog. "You are eagle."

We are all on a journey as challenging and mysterious as this one. We are all on our way. The psalm this morning reminds us evildoers, false witnesses will rise up against us, even our mother and father may forsake us, but God will be our stronghold.

God is our light and will take care of us. We can be confident and have the courage to leave safe places to explore the roaring sounds and search for sacred mountains. On our way to find God in the land of the living we shall be given the medicine we need, we shall be reborn and given new names. Amen.

*Story excerpted from "Jumping Mouse" by Hyemeyohsts Storm