Thursday, October 20, 2016

Reflections on the 23rd Sunday After Pentecost (Proper 25, Year C)

The Power of Posture, The Humble Stance

We forget just how much posture matters. More than just remembering to sit up straight at the dinner table, or avoid bending for too long over your smart phone, the call to mindful posture in life and how we hold ourselves affects not only the way people perceive us, it also affects us--our health, our sense of self, our connection to our environment.

It even affects the way we approach our relationship with God, or rather the response we offer to the relationship God establishes with us.

Now, realize that the decision to keep your elbows off the table, or whether or not you sit with both feet on the floor will define personal righteousness. It goes much deeper than that idea. The posture being alluded to is an outward manifestation of how we hold ourselves in life and thus in relationship with God.

The prophet Joel sings a hymn of acceptance and abundant grace. God is coming like a rain of righteousness, and with that rain-both timely and in good proportion-comes abundance. The threshing floor will be full. The grape and olive harvests will render vats full to brimming. Everything that the locusts have destroyed will be restored. Everything that was lost will be returned....abundance. Our job is to labor in the harvest, to tender praise in proportion to the love raining down.

That is the deepest challenge: to live humbly and joyfully. When the locusts cut, destroy and devour and when the seasons offer harvests that are plentiful. Give God the glory...give ourselves to the labor.

The catch is that there is no extra credit that elevates us one over another. All of us are brothers and sisters together in relationship with God. All of us, those with and those without, are bound one to another by grace AND by God's love. What justifies us? God, not personal success. What condemns? Our own pride in assuming that God could love anyone less than fully, even the worst among us (or the worst within us).

So, in the teaching Jesus offers about the tax collector and the Pharisee, an object lesson is offered as to the nature of not only how God rolls, but also as to how we might choose to live. Do we live with hands thrown high, exulting in the certainty of our own self...or do we take the lower seat and while acknowledging we are not what we could be we are aware of the sure knowledge of God's love for a broken world (and a broken us)?

The good news is that we always, in every moment, get the same choice the two men had in Jesus' parable. We can exult in separateness, or rejoice in the love of God that calls us to run the race in good faith with our eyes on the prize of life TOGETHER in the love of Christ.

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