Thursday, August 10, 2006

AUGUST 10 - Random thoughts towards Sunday ---
Sunday's lessons reflect on the summary in the Collect:
Grant to us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always those things that are right, that we, who cannot exist without you, may by you be enabled to live according to your will.
In the story of Elijah he is fed in the wilderness by an angel when he felt that he could no longer go on. He is fleeing for his life at this point - he thinks he is the only person left who worships God. He has had a big confrontation with the priests of Baal (for some reason Ahab and Jezebel are trying to kill him after he won and killed all their priests!). The angel urges him to eat and drink and continue his journey.
The letter to the Ephesians urges thieves to give up stealing and work honestly - not to gain wealth for themselves but so they can share with the needy. The purpose of life lived according to God's will is to share God's gifts with one another.
The idea of "God's Will" is often confused. People use it to try to comfort each other in tragedies - "it was God's will" "it is for a purpose God only knows" or when we escape danger and death - "a blessing" or more "God had a reason for saving me" -- this just does not work for me. For me - things just happen in a world of mortality. God's will, to me, is living in the way God would have us live, loving and caring for one another and the earth, knowing each other to be our brother and sister - not our enemy, even when we are seen as enemies to those "others." Hard to live into though. Jesus models this behavior and it gets him crucified. The letter writer of the Ephesians sees that it is even hard to do with those closest to us - our families, our communities, our churches. The letter gives some places to start, things we can do if we choose:
"Putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
To live this sort of life requires nourishment - the kind of food that fills mind, body and soul. Eating and drinking to strengthen ourselves for the journey.
Jesus in the Gospel of John offers himself as this sort of nourishment. He is the Bread of Life - the one who walks with us and can lift us up in times of fear and loss. We come to the Eucharist to drink the wine of encouragement and eat the bread of sustenance. It captures for us the essence of our faith. Wine lifts our spirits and bread fills our bodies.
Wine is made from bunches of individual grapes - brought together and allowed to age into that which we share in the cup. Bread is the product of individual seeds sown, grown and tended, harvested and ground into flour, baked and broken for us. It is like our church - individuals coming together to feed the world. It is not for ourselves (unless we want to be thieves and worshippers of the idols of wealth) but for the world. At various times we may think we are being ground up or hot with the baking - but the outcome is promised when we stay with it - new life.
May we live in God's will - realizing that it is the only true life - like fish in water. Or as we pray:
"Oh God in whom we live and move and have our being." We pray that we will have the faith to recognize that truth.
Thanks to all on Propertalk and Sermonshop discussion lists for their thoughts and ideas.