Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, October 3, 2010
Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior….
Collect for Sunday, Oct 3, 2010 [Episcopal Lectionary]
The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" The Lord replied, "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, `Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you. "Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, `Come here at once and take your place at the table'? Would you not rather say to him, `Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink'? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, `We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'"
Luke 17 - the Gospel reading for today [Proper 22C RCL]
Forget any modern connotations about “slaves”. Jesus’ words are not about the justice of slave-owning; we don’t want to get caught up in that Red Herring.
Jesus is, as always, concerned about his followers understanding how to be “right with God” ….. taking our rightful position (spiritually) and therefore with heart and mind in that “space” where we stand open and humble and eager for the great Mystery of God’s Compassion and Love and Longing to make us whole human beings.
The Collect expresses both our human desire for this Wholeness, and our concept of a God Who knows our longing far more profoundly than we do. We express our faith that this God will not let our ignorance or fear stand in the way of our becoming Whole. This is what Christians understand the very heart and nature of the God of the Gospels to be. To put it another way, Christians believe that Existence is “for us”. If we surrender ourselves trustingly to the work of Life – as the image of the faithful and hard-working slave represents – Life will bless us.
I absolutely believe this. Abandoning ourselves to the Mystery of Love and allowing ourselves to be swept along by it, working hard to relinquish our misguided grip on control, the often huge “mulberry tress” that block our path will be uprooted, our path “made straight in the desert”, and we will fly like an arrow to Be as Christ.
We do not need to work hard. We need to surrender hard. This is what is meant by Freedom.