Things are rarely or never quite what they seem are they?
It is a quandary of life…Rev. Colleen has identified it several times as a paradox…
Peter says to Jesus….you are the Messiah…the Holy One of God….
Jesus says..Yes! You are right!
And the Holy one must suffer and die and be raised….
No wonder Peter took Jesus to the side and started scolding him…..
Messiah…Holy One of God…..and suffering and death…..those two are seemingly incongruent
Let’s face it, we all love peace, harmony, joy, smooth sailing, calm water,
And I believe the human spirit needs periods of such calm as well…
It is I believe reminiscent of the need for Sabbath rest…..to stop…to rest…to relax…to calm and center ones self….
I think Jesus understood and understands that….
Why? Because….living the Spiritual Life….living our best self forward in the world…is alot of work…and it involves suffering, many little deaths and many little resurrections as well.
For many years….i was of the ilk that suffering had no place in the Spiritual Life….and while I still believe that many pious cliches like….”suffering for Christ” and the like are often just that….cliche’s for not wanting to really deal with suffering at it’s deepest level….
I have also come to see that suffering is an integral part of the Spiritual Life….don’t get me wrong…I will always wish it wasn’t…but I have come to see that it is!
I believe every experience of suffering, of hurt, of pain, of temptation, of struggle and of strife….hold a lesson or lessons for us.
Lessons of holiness….
Some of those lessons are big and life changing….and others are small steps in the Spiritual life….
Like Kathy and I had the opportunity to join what like some 168000 other folks on Labor Day to manuever the few small acres affectionally known as the Great Minnesota Get Together!
We were standing in line, waiting to get our annual french fry cup so we could pig out on lard drenched potatoes to maintain our healthy diet….
The woman in front of us started to fan herself with a small statefair coupon book. As the small army of people around us were doing the same and waiting for their own lard drenched slices of heaven….I noticed in her fanning a small yellow ticket fall from the booklet and on to the ground….a few seconds later another and then another…
For a split second…as I bent down and picked up those ride tickets I thought…well wouldn’t it be nice to take Kathy on the swings or the Ye Old River ride…and we wouldn’t have to buy many more….
But then, I believe because of practicing the Spiritual Life…I said…excuse me Maam, but these came flying out of your book as you were fanning yourself. She said thank you and put them back in the book and started fanning herself again…
You see there was not even alot of appreciation…or anything of the sort….but I do believe that small, seemingly inconsequential act contributed to the holiness of the world. I believe it brought the reign of God, just one step closer.
You see I think that holiness and the Spiritual life are alot like the green log that I put on the fire at the cabin not so long ago.
The embers were hot…the fire dying down…I put the log on and it began to smoke….then it began to bubble stuff out of the ends of the log….it took forever and the heat was intense….the outside bark started to char just a little bit, and the sizzling out of the ends of the log really increased…finally…after quite a bit of time, a lot of pops, and a ton of little sizzling….the log just burst into flame….
I thought to myself….that is a perfect metaphor of the Spiritaul Life….it takes a lot of heat (suffering, angst, pain) and a long time of living with those things, before we finally are so transformed, so purified…that we burst forth with holiness.
Every sizzle is important….every pop is essential…because if we just stick with the heat of the suffering….we will burst forth with love. Holiness takes time….
I hope we can all continue to sizzle!