Monday, October 16, 2006

Living in the now

The best sermons in my view are extemporaneous as per Merriam-Webster's second entry: "carefully prepared but delivered without notes or text." (I'm a tough audience, I know; would it help if I said I see preaching not as a performance art but as a sort of partnership in which what I do with it is important, too?) In most cases I find those easier to absorb than something that's been written out in advance, then read from a piece of paper. I'm usually sitting there thinking that I could just as easily take that paper home and read it myself--though one advantage of written sermons is that you can do just that. I have a copy of a sermon by a priest whose reflections I appreciate very much, and I've gone back to it repeatedly over the past few months. In it, he talks about the need to take exodus risks in following Jesus, and about understanding God's purpose in giving us places to rest along the way.

Jesus, he points out, “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out ... " Out, that is, not in--out of the relative safety of the sheepfold and into a place of uncertainty, where trusting and following the shepherd is the only way to go.

He goes on: "It is all too easy for us to misinterpret the peace and respite God may give us along the way. We can convince ourselves that we have reached our journey's true goal, when in fact we are very far from the Promised Land. It is also easy for us to forget that these grace periods are often the direct consequence of our refusal to be shepherded further by God."

I'm still thinking about that part. I got where I am (I'm talking here about religion) by putting one foot in front of the other while looking to God for reassurance that I was going in the right direction. Each individual step felt right, and I don't see how all of them combined could have taken me anyplace else. But despite the comforts it offers, this isn't where I ever expected to be, and there are things I miss yet from the old place and haven't found here. So I'm wondering, is this the destination, or one of those temporary resting places? Doesn't matter for now, I suppose; I trust I'll know when I need to. Just got to concentrate in the meantime on being where I am.


At 9:14 PM, Blogger Rachel's Big Dunk said...

One Foot,

For me, the only way I can follow God is one step at a time. Sometimes I feel like a blind woman clinging to a friend's arm. But I trust that arm completely and know he will navigate me along the right path. I, too, wonder if this is just a rest stop on the way. But it will be up to God to nudge me along when the time is right, so in the mean time I am making my best effort to 'stand in the place that I live.'

I will say that this week has been full of nostalgia for what I have left behind. But like an immigrant from a foreign land, I know that as rosy at it seems now, I can never, ever, go back.


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