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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Proper 14C
Genesis 15:1-6
Hebrews 11:1-16
Luke 12:32-40

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is the father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” I had to smile when I heard these words. Ours really is a little flock here, isn’t it? So from the beginning, the Gospel is an attention-getter, this bright August morning. That’s a good thing, because there’s a lesson here that we need to hear. Well, several of them, really, but I promise to only focus on one this time.

Jesus is talking to his disciples today, about being ready for God, and God’s gifts, in their lives. “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit,” he says. “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour." Sounds awfully energetic, at first glance. It makes me think of a button I once was given. It was a little, round, purple button, and in fat white letters it said: “JESUS IS COMING! LOOK BUSY!”

We do tend to do that, don’t we... to think of preparation as a busy time. When I think of getting ready for something-- hosting a party, for example-- I first think of making lists. I have one list of who all’s coming; another of what food to serve (and the grocery list, so that I buy all the food on the “what to serve” list); still another list of cleaning chores... seems like I need a list of the lists I’m making.

And then I swing into action, working through all the stuff that I’ve listed as needing to be done-- and, as I’m sure my family will attest, often issuing instructions like a drill sergeant preparing for battle, in the process.

But when I read today’s Gospel, I hear him asking for a different sort of preparedness. “Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes...” Jesus says. He’s not concerned, in this passage, with the preparations that have gone on before, all the cooking and the cleaning, and “looking busy.” Jesus is asking his disciples to be alert, to be attentive to the moment.

Now, attentiveness, I believe, requires something other than all the busy scurrying around. That’s all well and good in it’s place, of course, but too much of that simply leaves us frazzled and distracted. At least, it does me. Exhausted, and cranky, and too tired to properly enjoy the guests when they finally arrive. This is a problem with any sort of activity, however well-intended, however godly. We can get too caught up in the never-ending work; and then the time comes when we are too burnt out to be effective.

So what I’d like to suggest here is that being prepared for Christ, and being alert for the work of the Spirit in our lives, requires some recharging, as well as charging around. We need to sit back, to take time to think, and pray, and rest. To balance-- giving as well as receiving, activity as well as stillness.

We have one good example, in Sue’s recent sabbatical. A time of recharging, of being away, follows our Lord’s example of going off by himself. We read of this in many places in scripture. Honestly, if the Son of God needs time off, who are we to think we don’t?

So, on our last Sunday together, and after all our work together these last several weeks (work in which I am so very blessed to have been a part) I would remind us all of this: do not begrudge yourselves time, my brothers and sisters. Allowing regular doses of quiet and prayer, between the also important periods of activity and work-- and being as willing to share the load we carry, as we are eager to help carry another’s-- will leave us all more prepared for that unexpected hour.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”


Blogger Reverend Ref + said...

Your last Sunday, huh? How you feeling? I know my last Sunday in Walla Walla was a sad time. But I was also looking forward to finishing seminary and get a job where I could do it all the time.

I'm sure that you'll be able to take lots of this summer with you next year.

August 09, 2004 12:18 PM  

Blogger Jane Ellen+ said...

How do I feel? Well, I won't miss the driving, but I will miss the people, and the work. It was great, even in the middle of a few "things they don't tell you in seminary" moments.

Boy, I'm gonna love this job.

August 09, 2004 10:01 PM  

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