You Be The Hands God Uses!
- Sunday, August 28, 2016
- By Father Robin Ruder-Celiz
Our passage from Hebrews today is probably one of the most sensible passages there is in the Bible. It just makes. The author talks about mutual love, respect, sharing and being satisfied with what we have. How can anyone argue with that!
When we read this passage we may feel quite good because we know we have shown hospitality to others. As a church community we welcome and incorporate anyone who comes through our doors. Our hall and meeting room is always available to be rented to the community. Our Community Partners who use our space are vast. We have scouts, SMP, French classes, CODA, karate, a Pre-School and many others who use our space on a regular basis. Then there are others who use our space for one off events such as weddings and birthday parties. Sure we may not see these groups on Sunday morning and we may wonder about that. The end goal is not always to see an increase in church attendance as nice as that would be. The point is that we are a place where others can exercise their ministry and become more fully alive as the people God that God will have them be.
And yet there is a yearning within ourselves for something more. Despite the great and many ways in which we are blessed we yearn for more. We wonder and yearn to grow as a community on Sunday mornings, back like it used to be. We wonder what has happened to the Children and Youth ministry that used to be vibrant and the many other aspects of our past parish life. Who can blame us, it is easy and almost instinctive for us to look over our shoulder and remember a time when things were better. This happens in our personal lives as well. We should take heart because we are not alone. Most people, most churches do this all the time.
Our tendency to yearn for more is a learned behavior from our culture and society. Every time we click on the TV, read the papers and open Facebook or any of the multitudes of social media we are faced with messages about how much better our lives could be. We even read about how friends and family seem to be doing really well in one way or another. Information comes at us constantly with a common message, “what you have is not good enough.”
This is where we reach the slightly uncomfortable part todays passage from Hebrews. After some great opening lines about mutual love and hospitality we are met with, “. . . be content with what you have” (Heb. 13: 5). Here is the rub. This line runs in the face of everything we are programed to believe and what has become our natural instinct. We may find ourselves feeling a little uncomfortable and wonder, “but can’t there be more . . .” As we begin this spiral about lamenting on how good things were or should be we begin to lose hope and despair begins to set in our selves. “If only we had . . . If only we could . . .” Diana Butler Bass reminds us that enemy of hope is nostalgia. Think about it, when we constantly look over our shoulder and remember the Glory Days, whenever those days were supposed to be, we lose focus on the future, we are unable to imagine the possibilities that could be developed and we begin to lose hope.
But all is not lost because our author from Hebrews says, “Be content with what you have”. This line is a message to us, a stark reminder that we have everything we need right here with us. We have ourselves, our very being, probably the best gift and resource that God has given us and this community.
On the Facebook page of the Clergy Coaching Network there is a post that is attributed to Teresa of Avila. It reads: “Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world, Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.”
As I look around this parish and the wonderful community we are, I firmly believe that God is not done with us yet. When we, as the faithful people of God called to this place at this time come together for the work of God, we will begin to see better, more wholesome days ahead. We will begin to see more clearly a future full of promise and a hope that continues to grow and develop. This is a road and a journey that is not easy. No one ever said it would be. The future becomes bright when it begins with you and me being the hands, feet, and eyes of God in a changing and volatile world. When we, just as we are and with all that we have, begin to engage in the world as people and a church, hope burns bright and God’s love penetrates more deeply in a world that thirsts for compassion, love and hospitality.