Sunday, June 30, 2013

Faithfulness - Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 8)

2 Kings 2: 1-2, 6-14
Psalm 77
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Like 9: 51-62

There is a thread that runs through this week's lectionary that touches on faithful, true, disciplined action.  The stories may seem odd to us, and as I read them, I wonder if we as a species have lost the ability to faithfully abide.

Elisha is devoted to Elijah and while Elijah is moving toward the end of his life, Elisha keeps diligently sticking with him. Elisha asks for a double inheritance of Elijah's spirit, and it seems that by his faithfulness, he is granted that request. When he dons Elijah's stole and strikes the Jordan, the waters part just as they had for Elijah.

In a strangely similar but different way, Jesus is moving faithfully toward Israel, where Luke's author suggests he knows he faces the end. Along the way, the disciples, out of there misguided sense of faith and devotion, keep suggesting some pretty stupid things. Like the basis for a Monty Python sketch, James and John suggest that they call down fire from heaven upon the Samaritan village that has failed to prepare for Jesus's visit. One after another, Jesus seems to be rejecting their passionate response while hoping for and encouraging something more deeply rooted in faithfulness.

I think it is harder by far to faithfully say and do the right things...especially when that means setting aside our passions. It is so much easier to be angry at someone who has hurt us for the umpteenth time rather than pulling out our very best love and mercy.  Maybe that is where we bear fruit though. Maybe we only encounter the fruits of the spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control - by diligent, disciplined faithful response to the world.

It's ironic to me then that self-control is a fruit of the spirit. Seems like the more we have, the more we get. For exercising it regularly! What do we do with that? It reminds me a little bit of my yoga practice. Balance comes from balance, breath from breath, centeredness from the center.

And so this week, I wonder if I can find it in myself to reject the fast paced distraction to be faithful, true and love God and my neighbor above all else. To be God's at every turn...


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