MARY LEE TALBOT – STAFF WRITER
“Is there a word from the Lord today?” asked the Rev. Zina Jacque. “I invite you to be an imitation of Christ, to love and sacrifice. I want to see what ‘thus says the Lord’ is for you and me today.”
Jacque preached at the 9 a.m. Monday, July 5 worship service in the Amphitheater. Her sermon title was “Destined to Emerge.” The Scripture reading was Ephesians 5:1.
Every spring, “which could (feel like) June in Chicago,” Jacque said, “I go to the Chicago Botanical Garden. Inside the gates, it looks like someone expected plants to grow.” The flower beds, she said, are well-tended, and it is easy for the daffodils to emerge.
“It is easy if your address is inside the gate,” she said. “But if your address is outside in the parking lot, it is different.”
Jacque said that while at the Botanical Garden, she was looking for a lost earring. She noticed that no one had come to make the emergence of the daffodils in the parking lot easy. Those daffodils had to find the strength and courage to rise up.
“Those daffodils would not let the leaf bed keep them down. They had the nerve to say, ‘My shoulders are strong enough to emerge,’ ” she said. “They had the temerity and audacity to rise, show their beauty, be someone’s hope. And even if nobody noticed, they were going to be their daffodil selves.”
The flowers only live for a season, but they don’t let that stop them from emerging.
“Jesus lived outside the gates, and was pushed down by Rome and the laws of his neighborhood,” Jacque said. “He was pushed down by the cross. No one expected him to emerge, but he knew his DNA and had the audacity to say, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ ”
She continued, “Jesus said, ‘You can roll a stone across the tomb, but watch what I will do. I will not be concealed.’ ”
Jesus was a sacrifice, a role model who wants us to emerge, Jacque told the congregation. “If the word of God is true, you and I have to imitate this hopeful Jesus.”
Jacque asked the congregation, “What do we have to emerge from? If I can afford Chautauqua, I must have already emerged. Let me think with you about some things that will not hold us if we do emerge.”
If we believe that things in this nation and the world are too complicated to change, if we just live inside the botanic garden, we tend to think we are not responsible for the leaf cover.
“Even if the leaf is only covering part of your foot, you are responsible,” she said. “Paul wrote in Corinthians that the Spirit gave gifts for the common good. You have to lift the leaf cover off someone.”
She continued, “You have to emerge from the belief that ‘I am OK, and it is alright for you to be not OK.’ ”
In Barrington, where Jacque is the pastor, a high school student named Abigail planned a Black Lives Matter rally. Barrington, said Jacque, “is so affluent (that) students can take Arabic and Chinese starting in first grade.”
People in town felt so guilty that instead of the energy rising to do something, energy got tamped down.
“This is a trick of the enemy: that you can’t do better in the future than you did in the past,” Jacque said. “But guilt can’t stop us, because in Jesus there is no condemnation. We have to emerge from wanting to stay invisible. We have to emerge from order that looks like peace because it can cover up the truth and lull us into inaction.”
To throw off the leaf cover, we have to learn to make mistakes, Jacque told the congregation.
“In Proverbs, a man falls down and gets up seven times. In working for social justice, inclusion and trying to find hope, we will all fall down. We have to rise up as a sign of hope, righteousness and justice.”
She continued, “You and I bring beauty to the world. Walk down a street where there seems to be no beauty and your eye will immediately go to the one daffodil. You are that one daffodil if you emerge.”
Sacrifice is necessary to free the oppressed. “We have to sacrifice our position of power, to acknowledge we don’t know the experience of the other, to speak to people we know and love, in love, about their hate and prejudice,” Jacque said. “It would be arrogant of me to tell you what you need to sacrifice. The Spirit will speak to you and if you have not heard the Spirit, ask.”
Jesus told his followers that they were more important to God than the birds of the air or the lilies of the field. “God is polite,” Jacque concluded. “God will never tell you that you have to emerge. God will ask you to emerge.”
The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, vice president of religion and senior pastor of Chautauqua Institution, presided. The Rev. Mary Lee Talbot, morning worship writer for The Chautauquan Daily, read the Scripture. Joshua Stafford, Jared Jacobsen Chair for the Organist and director of sacred music, conducted members of the Motet Choir in “Song of the Apostle,” music by John Ness Beck and words from Romans 8: 28-32. The prelude and postlude were “Intrada” and “Impromptu,” by John Ireland. The Samuel M. and Mary E. Hazlett Memorial Fund provides support for this week’s services and chaplain.