Monday, July 04, 2016
All My Time
All My Time is Your Time
A very happy Fourth of July weekend to you! What a beautiful day. What a beautiful weekend. As for the Red Sox, 21-2! Oh well, the less said about that right now the better.
Some of you may be old enough to remember “Fiddler on the Roof”, the wonderful Broadway play made into a movie. In it the relationship between Tevye and God is portrayed to be an ongoing conversation.
In fact most authorities in the discipline of Spirituality recognize that our relationship with God is a continuing internal dialogue. I'm not talking about hearing voices. There are medications for that. But I am talking about the language of the human heart
For it is within the human heart that we discover the heart of God. As we dwell within God so God dwells within us. A favorite passage from John’s Gospel says it well; “Abide in me as I abide in you. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may becomplete. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as have loved you'.” ~John 15
Occasionally, I find myself writing what some might consider poetry. Early Thursday morning as I reflected on some rather mundane matters in my journal. These words came to me as I thought of my limited time on earth and God’s eternity. I was taken by the thought that as we dwell within God and as God dwells within us we then have this eternal connection.
These are the words that came to me.
All My Time
All my time
is Your time
My time is what it is
And so is Yours
As I dwell within Your heart
So You dwell within mine
The eternal and everlasting
Though seemingly tenuous on this side
It is a connection nonetheless
For now, this is enough
More than enough
To rejoice the heart
Thanks be to God
Thanks be to You
I posted the poem on Facebook and published it to my blog and a number of folks commented. But the one who caught my attention was a response from Erica, a young woman who recently had a heart transplant. She had been a parishioner of mine in Salem, MA and she suffered from a life threatening form of cancer. The chemotherapy put the cancer in remission but her heart was damaged in the process to the point that she needed a new one. She was very young, in her early twenties. She married and somehow had a child through it all, and prayed to God that she might live long enough to see her child off to kindergarten. Her prayer was answered in the affirmative. She remains on my daily prayer list and she often comments on my Facebook posts. I imagined how she might have heard the words I had written;
“As I dwell within Your heart
So You dwell within mine”
I thought of her heart, so damaged and then her new and transplanted heart. So now she lives and moves and has her being in God through the grace and gift of a heart from someone else whose life was given in order that she might live. So it is that in the most literal terms that she took the imagery I had used in my poem and applied it to the very beating of her heart.
We read of Naaman the Syrian in today’s First Lesson. Talk about mortal enemies then as now. This foreign soldier takes center stage in the Biblical narrative in the Hebrew Scriptures. Isn't this an interesting twist on Patriotism on the 4th of July weekend. He suffered from Leprosy and sought healing from the King of Israel. It scared the King to death that Naaman was seeking to pick a fight on the pretext that he, the King was on a par with God to grant life and death, health and healing. Alas it was Elisha, the Man of God who was able to grant this healing. I love how Naaman wanted to dictate the conditions under which his healing was to be administered; face to face and in one of the rivers of Syria. Naaman had much to learn about humility and obedience from the Man of God. So do we all.
Then, as I thought about Erica and Naaman or any one of us for that matter, I thought of that plea that comes from the heart and soul of all folk of faith who understand that we are all in the hands of God at all times and in all places.
The Psalmist says;
“2 O Lord my God, I cried out to you, *
and you restored me to health.
3 You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead; *
you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.”
Ultimately we’re all in the hands of God, but not just ultimately. We are in God’s hands immediately in the very here and now of our living and breathing, indeed in every beat of the heart. The moment the living and breathing stops, the moment the hearts stops, life is over. Just ask Erica. And if you suffer from leprosy or other malady, you understand that your life depends upon the life giving, healing power of God.
It is in the recognition of the immediacy of God’s presence that we dwell in God and God dwells in us. In today’s Gospel, for instance, Jesus sends us out two by two to go into the cities, towns and villages he himself had planned to visit and to prepare the way for him. There was so much work to do. The harvest is always plentiful, but there are so few folks to do the work. All because of the immediacy of the Kingdom of God. As Jesus says, "Know this, the Kingdom of God has come near."
As the disciples did their “advance” work they discovered that the very demons submitted to them. Evil itself found its match in those who did the work of God in the Name of Jesus.
There is much Gospel work to be done. This is why Jesus came into the world.This is why Jesus is sending us into the world two by two. As we go out in the name of God and armed with the power of Jesus we will find that the demons will submit to the power of God. And you know what God's work is. It involves the hungry, the homeless, the poor, the sick and dying, the marginalized, and the sin sick souls seeking forgiveness. As I said, there is plenty of work to do.
Jesus smiled."I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning”. When we go out to do the work that God has given us to do, Satan falls. Evil falls. And Jesus smiles again.
Erica is a whole new creation since the gift of a new heart. Even Naaman the enemy soldier, is a whole new creation since his healing from Leprosy. You and I are new creations as we busy ourselves with God’s work.
As Paul the Apostle puts it, so do I; “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up.” ~Galatians 6:7-9
In the Name of God, the Most Holy, Undivided, and Everlasting Trinity. Amen.