Over the centuries, several people have done the exact same thing as what Paul was suggesting, selling their possessions and camping out on a mountain top, waiting for the second coming of Jesus. These people made a decision that was guided by some form of hope, even within a life that is filled with daily responsibilities and duties. Partly because they saw it as a salvation from their present struggles. For them, future hope bested their present reality. And because of that, their hope came with a sense of urgency.
I am gifted with a great imagination, and an analytical mind, and getting out of the boat, like Peter, to walk on the water toward a promise God has given me, makes me realize just how big those waves of doubt and uncertainty can be. Like a heads up display, I see every possible scenario, both good and bad, with its probability firmly floating above the wave, either granting hope, or threatening impending doom.
As adults we often don’t realize just how many of our decisions are based on similar attempts at fitting in, at defining our identity, at finding our role within our social context. Did I come to this church because it provides the best theological teaching, or because it offers the best programs, or the best adult groups? Did I take this job because I love doing it, or because this type of job pays more money than one that I love to do – and by extrapolation, more money will allow me to get what I really crave?
It is entirely possible to do the will of the Father without being moved by what we are doing. We can follow all the requirements of a good and just society, without caring about the interests of others. We can do all of these things, but care only about looking good, which is precisely the opposite of what Paul was asking of the believers in Philippi.
Instead of responding to their question, Jesus begins to write in the dirt, and finally says, “Let anyone of you here who is without sin, throw the first stone at her.” And then he keeps writing.
Slowly, one by one, from the oldest first to the younger, all begin to walk away.
If you were to ask any random person on the street about a prayer that they could recite from memory, the Lord’s Prayer would make the top five. It seems that this is a prayer that everyone, whether they attend church now, or only as a child, has committed to memory. And as is often the case when we have committed words and phrases to rote memory, we often quit reflecting on their meanings and purpose.
See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you toRead More…
My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are notRead More…
There can never be a beloved community – a community that includes all God’s children regardless of any self-imposed differences to keep ourselves apart – there can be no peace, no living together in harmony, unless there is forgiveness and understanding.
“Thoughts and prayers.” If ever there was a heaping up of empty phrases, these three words after every major mass shooting in this country would win the prize for most overused phrase with the most under-whelming effect. “Thoughts and prayers” mean nothing when they do not move people to affect real and lasting change.