To emerge requires transformation in darkness, waiting and struggle, Zina Jacque says


The Rev. Zina Jacque, lead pastor of the the Community Church of Barrington, Illinois, delivers her sermon “In an Emergent Moment” Sunday, July 4, 2021 on the Amphitheater stage. DAVE MUNCH/PHOTO EDITOR

“I am a National Public Radio junkie,” said the Rev. Zina Jacque. “I have 91.5 WBEZ on all my devices. I am moving to D.C. and there are three public radio stations. I once got to interview Krista Tippett, my hero.”

Jacque preached at the 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 6 worship service in the Amphitheater. Her sermon title was “Destined to Emerge.” The Scripture text was 1 John 3:2.

“Radiolab” is one of Jacque’s favorite NPR shows. “It is theater for the ears. Several years ago I heard a program called ‘Goo and You.’ You can find it online,” she said. 

The show described the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Unlike a moth, which spins its cocoon, a caterpillar is born with the chrysalis as its innermost layer of skin. “The chrysalis is already there, and when the caterpillar sheds its last layer of skin, the chrysalis hardens,” she said.

“The chrysalis is nature’s best black box,” said Jacque. “When we think of transformation, we think of being able to see a tadpole as it grows legs and loses its tail. You cannot see the transformation in the chrysalis as the caterpillar disintegrates into a white, milky goo.” 

It is not a mistake that the butterfly is an ancient Christian symbol. “The butterfly/caterpillar has a destiny to emerge. It is an important teacher for us,” she told the congregation.

 “In order for it to be a butterfly, the caterpillar has to go away to a dark and solitary place,” Jacque said. 

Second, the caterpillar has to yield to its deepest truth: It is destined to be a butterfly. The caterpillar carries imaginal cells that know it will become a butterfly.

“The butterfly will not be constrained to the ground,” Jacque said. “It will not eat leaves, but nectar. The caterpillar is cute, but it is not the end. The current shape is not the future goal.”

The butterfly must wait to emerge. If the climate is not right, it will stay in the chrysalis until the world is ready. “This is Kairos, God’s time, and we have to wait for God before we can emerge,” she said.

Nobody can help the butterfly emerge. “If you ever watch a butterfly struggle to get out, don’t help it,” Jacque said. “The struggle helps push the water from its wings into its body so it is ready to fly. If you try to help, the butterfly will die.”

Like the butterfly and daffodil, ancient symbols of faith, Jacque said, Jesus went to the tomb to yield to his deepest truth, that he was the son of God, the great high priest, the servant of all. 

“His life was the greatest gift to us, and he paid the highest price for us,” she told the congregation.

“Jesus could have transformed in the twinkling of an eye, but the Kairos lasted three days,” she said. “There was no one to roll away the stone, no one to fold the clothes, no one there who could help.” 

Jacque told the congregation, “Our role is to emerge from the fires of hate, racism, economic injustice and climate change. It is in our DNA to emerge. Like the butterfly, effort is required for us to emerge.”

“When we do emerge,” Jacque said, “we will be like Jesus — bringers of truth, walking humbly and loving mercy. We will have a relationship with the divine and we will share that love with all those we meet. We will stand in the gap for those in need and we will be willing to be put outside to bring others in.”

Our journey, Jacque said, is to go to the solitary dark place, quiet our own soul and confess. “To confess means to agree with God on the ways of God. We tell God how we have sinned, which means to miss the mark of the high calling of the one who designed you.”

In the Bible, God says that if we confess, he will forgive, Jacque said to the congregation. “If we say we have no sin, we make God a liar.”

If we yield to our deepest truth, she continued, we understand that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” she said. “The thing we are called to be is in our hands and we are God’s body on earth. That is the deepest truth in our hearts: God’s truth.”

Like the butterfly, humans need to be patient and want for the Spirit in order to find the deepest truth, Jacque said. 

“When you start seeing movements and activities everywhere, it is time to look for the places where your gifts and strengths can be used,” she said. “Ask God where your voice will be most effective, where you will fit into the plan God has for you.”

“We will emerge with a struggle” like the butterfly, she said. “Maybe Chautauqua is your chrysalis. You have felt a shift inside yourself as you become a butterfly, but the people at home still want you to be a caterpillar.”

She continued, “If the change is too easy, it will not work. You have to get the water out of your wings. It is not necessarily fun or safe. All the disciples were martyred, and as the milkweed disappears, so do the butterflies.”

By faith we choose to emerge, because we are destined to. “God asks us politely, ‘Will you come? Will you let me melt you down, let me transform you, make you what you know you are?’ ” she said. She closed in prayer for the transformation of the congregation.

The Rev. Mary Lee Talbot, the author of this week’s daily liturgies, presided. Emily Provance, the Friend-in-Residence at the new Quaker House and a traveling Friend who has worked all over the world, read the Scripture. Joshua Stafford, Jared Jacobsen Organist Chair and director of sacred music, played “Prelude on ‘Open My Eyes, That I May See,’ ” by Emma Lou Diemer. The postlude was an improvisation by Stafford. For the anthem, members of the Motet Choir sang “Thou Shalt Know Him When He Comes,” by Hal Hopson. The Samuel M. and Mary E. Hazlett Memorial Fund supports this week’s services and chaplain.

Tags : 1 john 3:2morning worshipNew Frontiers: Exploring the Future of Religion in Americareligionweek twoZina Jacque

The author Mary Lee Talbot

Mary Lee Talbot writes the recap of the morning worship service. A life-long Chautauquan, she is a Presbyterian minister, author of Chautauqua’s Heart: 100 Years of Beauty and a history of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. She edited The Streets Where We Live and Shalom Chautauqua. She lives in Chautauqua year-round with her Stabyhoun, Sammi.