Saturday, July 18, 2009

Lovely Fields

Okay. Another sermon draft per request. Still pretty rough.

Grace to you and peace from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In today's gospel (Mark 6:30-32, 53-56) we have two stories which seem to highlight differing themes. We start with the need for rest…and quickly, very quickly move to equality, that lack of distinction as to whom Jesus and his disciples feed, heal and speak.

Mark 6:31 ..”and Jesus says, Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile” Only, the while never happens.

I wish I could tell you ways to find rest. I recently found this great quote. It said simply, “Have gone to the fields to be lovely. Be back when I am done blooming.”

I was challenged to put the note on my door at work.(which, by the way is ridiculous I don’t have a door where I work just lots of children)..but nonetheless I was challenged to put this note on the door and leave the Boys and Girls Club for a day or two. And although this wasn’t even remotely realistic, I loved the fantasy of it.

So instead of putting this note up and just taking off for a couple of days. I put it on my facebook. Facebook being my computer social network..where things don’t always have to be real. I simply stated. Nicole Bates has gone to the fields to be lovely. Be back when I am done blooming.” ..and then I pretended that my back deck was a field of lilies instead of mosquitoes. When I came back to my computer 20 minutes later. Two other people had asked to join me.

We all fill our days with something. While we may not be able to spend days “fully blooming.”,we can come to our relationship in Christ for a few moments here and and there as we remember to walk with him through the rest of our day.

When our boys were younger. Like 1, 2 and 4…Brian and I used to argue about who got to go to the grocery store. “It’s my turn.” We would tell each other. We would rock/paper/scissors..or flip a coin. It was not because we did not love our children. We simply wanted a break. We wanted that 5 minutes in the car to quickly catch our breath before entering the store. Because once we entered the store there was always something else.

Many of our neighbors were without cars, so we would often help drive other families home..or someone would ask us to take them to a doctor the following day..or for Brian..they would ask him to fix the broken car in their driveway. We were still serving others when we reached the grocery store. We were still providing groceries for our children back home. The car was simply a small break between types of service..and we usually came back recharged and glad to be home.

Many of us do not have the luxury of days in solitude with Christ. That is okay. Apparently, neither did the disciples. We can, however, take 5 minutes somewhere/ think, to pray, to reconnect.

The Disciples return to Jesus on the shores of Galilee. They begin to recount to him all that they have seen and done. Recognizing their need for rest Jesus states, “Come away with me to a deserted place and rest”..and before they have even eaten they are found. The disciples become busy…and begin feeding the multitudes.

In the words of biblical story-teller Philip Ruge Jones…Mark will show us Jesus feeding the multitudes and teaching them God’s ways. For a moment, we are part of that crowd. We’re caught up in the momentum of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee; immediately going here, immediately going there, immediately, immediately, immediately. And everywhere Jesus heals….

But that’s not all. Jesus also insists on going places he should not go. The storyteller says that Jesus made the disciples go to “the other side” again and again, and each time I
know that he is crossing boundaries between Jewish lands of Galilee and those of the Gentiles on the other side of the sea.

He cares for both without distinction.

So I take a close look at myself to see what boundaries I may be creating in my communities today. Do I find myself interacting/ministering/serving with the same respect those who identify themselves as Republican/Democrat..or anything in between..the same? Do I find other ways to label and create barriers? the rich and the poor.. homosexual or heterosexual..documented or undocumented.

I ask you to take the time and sit with Christ to help break down some of these distinctions. In other words come to that deserted place (however briefly that may be) and center ourselves in our relationship with Christ before reaching out to all people.

I would like to end with the servant’s prayer of St. Francis of Assissi.

"O Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light, and Where there is sorrow, joy.
Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life."

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