“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.
I wonder how long it is that my mind will be in this space, that my refrain will be from the second part of the third verse of psalm 6, “low long, O Lord, how long?” It feels like every day is the last one I can stand. Sometimes, I ask my husband to drive me home or I sit and stare at the wall, paralyzed. Psalm 6 gives voice to my frustration. I roll my eyes and pound at my pillow, I complain and cry about this disease that leaves me dumb, disorganized, addled. But I’m asking the wrong question. Continue reading
“Every branch that bears fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
Look at the stained glass windows around you this morning. They’ve been given at various times for various members of the community, and as any chorister will tell you, they’re a symbol of how God’s light shines through each of us. As we look closely at the passage from the Gospel of John this morning, I want to offer these to you as a metaphor for God’s work in us as we consider what it means to be pruned, and where exactly the Good News is in the revelation that we should expect spiritual amputations. Continue reading
We live in an accomplishment-oriented society. Our identities are wrapped up in what we do in our jobs, what we can produce, how we “contribute to society.” There’s a lot of ego wrapped up this lifestyle–one that tells us that we know who we are because of what we do. Depending upon and feeding our egos, allowing our lives to be ruled by how many people like us, or how much money we make creates an environment of anxiety and fear.
This is an illness. This is not how we’re meant to live.
We learn in Scripture that our identity is not based on our egos, our abilities, or our status. Though we’ve been confused almost from the beginning of time, hiding ourselves, covering ourselves up with fig leaves when we sense God nearby, our confusion is not a permanent condition.
The truth is, God already knows everything about each one of us–as the prayer for purity at the beginning of an Episcopal church service affirms, “to You all hearts are open, all desires known, and from You no secrets are hid.”
“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” Matthew 9:35-38
As God sees and knows us, he does not condemn us; he has compassion for our struggle and desires to lead us safely, like a shepherd, into healing. God’s light, God’s presence, is healing–it is the only place we are fully seen, fully known, and fully accepted.
“though Jesus was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.” Philippians 2:6-7
Our worth is based in the reality of God; we are so precious that God seeks to dwell in each of our hearts, to be so close to each of us that we become like one being.
When we are healed from wondering and worrying about our own abilities and contributions to society into knowing that our worth comes from being God’s precious creation, from being fearfully and wonderfully made, we are truly free.
By losing our lives–refusing to be identified by our job title or bank account–we lose our egos, and we move into the light, into God’s presence without shame.
Since the first seeds dove into the soil the end of February, the weather has been rather dramatic. There are strong, sunny days when heat seems to rise off the dark soil, and I imagine the seeds waking up warm and cozy, opening themselves to the nutrition of the dirt and the affirming warmth of the sunshine. There are lots of chilly, wet, very cloudy days, when I imagine the seeds soak up the wet, even soggy, nourishment floating around them, loosening the hard seed covers, encouraging the seed’s stretching and growing–like those little sponges that start out as colorful pills but become great animals for bath times.
The little seeds–and me!–don’t get to choose which are sunny days and which are cold, rainy days. They’ve got to just keep doing their thing, growing and stretching and taking in what they’re offered, using all the resources of the moment to help them grow.
How are you using the resources you’re being offered this very moment to help you grow?