Thursday, May 2, 2013

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

The lessons for Sunday, May 5, 2013:

Acts 16:9-15

Psalm 67 (4)

Revelation 21:10, 22--22:5

John 14:23-29 or John 5:1-9

I find these post-Easter, pre-Ascension, pre-Pentecost lessons poignant. I feel this ache for both the disciples and Jesus. They've suffered an almost inconceivable trauma, a wrenching death--and now, some time for them to be together again, to have barbecues on the beach and a few last instructions. But Jesus must know that soon he'll be gone again. The older I get, the more this seems one of life's central lessons: our loved ones will soon enough be ripped away.

This Gospel lesson addresses that dilemma of being a biological being. Jesus promises us a Holy Spirit, a Counselor. He promises us His peace. He tells us that it is not peace as the world understands it, but a different kind of peace.

Of course, that's the central message of Christianity. The world offers us many false comforts. Feeling like someone's ripped a hole in your life? Buy more stuff. Feeling so rushed that you can't hear yourself think? All you need is a new cellphone that costs several hundred dollars to keep you more in touch. Hurry, hurry, busy, busy--all to keep earning money so that we can keep buying more stuff that doesn't fill our deep emptiness.

Christ came to show us the way to deal with the pain, loss, and emptiness of being human. Fix food for each other and then eat together. Again and again and again. Invite people who don't have enough food. Share our goods. Don't hoard our money for the future, but invest in community. Don't save up treasures on earth. Trust in God, who will not leave you orphaned and alone. Instead of hiding from pain, face the pain of our own lives and sit with the pain of others.

Jesus tells us plainly: "Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." That's a tough commandment for most of us these days. But Christ clearly tells us not to give in to our anxiety, to resist fear-based thinking, to cultivate a consciousness of abundance, instead of focusing on scarcity. There's enough for us all, and we will not be abandoned. Act like you believe Christ's words, and eventually you won't have to work so hard to believe it.

Jesus doesn't give us a view of a God who waves a magic wand to get rid of all our troubles. Jesus shows us a God that wants to be there with us, through all of life's events, both joyous and sad. Jesus shows us a God that will help us in our troubles if we ask, but not necessarily make them go away. Jesus shows us the idea of God as a partner, a partner with tremendous resources so that we need not be afraid or troubled.

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