by Anne Cox Bailey
Today is the Lord’s Day! Let us exult and be glad in it!
But it is hard to rejoice, isn’t it, given all that we are living through? People are weary and distrustful; they’re at the end of their composure, at the end of their forbearance. The increasing friction in the nation is tangible( particularly in the US, as the election approachings ), tension that accidents over from concern about the world and the country to the more immediate irritants with neighbors and family. Losing loved ones to the Covid-1 9 virus, we identify with the affliction that Israel must have felt when Moses died. In the centre of a multitude of damages, we identify with the suffering and mistreatment Paul describes in his letter to the Thessalonians.
One pastor likened the sound and confusion that vies for our attention to “being bitten to death by ducks.” I can roughly listen the quacking, smell plumages flying all around. Duck bites won’t kill me, of course, but they sure hurt and ruffle. They leave markings. And it’s exceedingly confusing!
Scripture comes to our aid this morning, helping us to focus our battered notice on which is critical. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus has just finished sparring verbally with the Sadducees, and now a Pharisee steps up to challenge him further. Here we have it: all the law and the oracles — thousands of years of theology, debate( in the law feel of the word) and spiritual grappling — all summed up in the response Jesus pronounces 😛 TAGEND
“’You shall cherish the Lord your God with all your stomach, and with all your feeling, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first precept. And a second is like it:’ You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”( Mt. 37 -3 9 ).
There’s that message: “all.” I recollect long ago hearing Presiding Bishop Michael Curry define it in a harangue: “All entails ALL! ” This first and greatest precept aids me refocus on what it “all” wants. It reaches into the center of my organization and mashes my nature, jumpstarting it to beat properly once again. It filches my looks from the daily details that assail me like hoards of hungry ducks, giving me the setback I need to see clearly what on earth God is doing: Loving creation back to the Life intended for it.
The second is like it: Jesus insists that I can only affection my neighbors to the degree I affection myself. Most of the time, if I’m honest, I don’t adoration myself as much as God does. I forget Whose image and mettle I endure; I forget Whose handwritings and feet are at the end of my members. The things I have done and left undo I pass along to whoever happens to cross my move. Then, in the same unthinking way, they extend it along to others, like a virus … I forget that when I gaze on another I am looking in an eternal, gues mirror.
So I commend this Sunday, this Sabbath, this Lord’s Day to you as a daylight to re-member: to put your world- and worry-torn self back together, step away from the ducks, remember whose Image you bear; and remind yourself that your behavior in the world is a choice you make, consciously or not.
I turn in gratitude to Paul today for help in draw conscious hand-pickeds to behave as the Christ would in my daily life: “…we were soothing among you, like a nanny tenderly caring for her own children. So deep do we care for you that we are determined to share with you is not simply the revelation of God but too our own souls, because you have become very dear to us”( 1 Thess. 2:7 b-8 ).
When we admit our neighbors to become very dear to us, we are changed! Now, everywhere we look, we can see the care offered to neighbor and stranger alike. Once we turn away from the ducks and refocus our attention on those once offering each other tenderness, we are inspired to share that Image, too.
At last-place, we can declare with the Psalmist:
“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
“and prosper for us the work of our hands–
O prosper the work of our hands! ”( Psalm 90:17 ).
A former ballet and concert modern dancer, educator and superintendent, Anne Cox Bailey was anointed an Episcopal priest in 2001. While attending seminary, her father pictured indicates of the amendments to her brain function that turned out to be Frontotemporal Dementia. Seeking help for her mother resulted her to Teepa Snow, world-renowned expert in Dementia. Her ministry, Ponder Anew, is dedicated to assisting all who live with dementia and those who care for them.
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