Friday, April 29, 2011

Imagine

Friday, April 29, 2011 -- Friday in Easter Week

To read about our daily commemorations, go to our Holy Women, Holy Men blog:
http://liturgical.wordiness.com/category/holy-women-holy-men/

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 958)
Psalms 136 (morning)        118 (evening)
Daniel 12:1-4, 13
Acts 4:1-12
John 16:1-15

It must have been hard for the disciples to imagine what Jesus was talking about.  Today Jesus tells them, in essence, it's a good thing that I leave you.  I'll send the Advocate in my place.  It'll be better.  You'll have the Spirit of truth to guide you.  There is so much more for you than I can give or teach you.  But the Advocate will guide and teach you, opening you more and more to God's light.

At that time, all the disciples could hear was that Jesus sounded like he was preparing to leave them.  When?  You said "in a little while."  How long is that?  They felt threatened.  Their teacher -- the focus of their hope -- was talking about leaving.  Oh, no.  What will we do?  They probably couldn't hear or imagine what he was telling them about the Advocate.

Only later would they learn.  The Advocate is the very presence and reality of God's Holy Spirit with and among them, unencumbered by time and space, flesh and blood.

Filled with that Spirit, we read a couple of days ago about Peter and John healing a man lame from birth.  He was asking for money.  They gave him his legs.  In the lyrical words of the King James Version, Peter said:  "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk."  The ensuing attention in the Temple drew the officials' ire, so they arrested the pair.  Today we see Peter and John before the ruling authorities, including four officials who at one time or another occupied the office of High Priest.  The group is not dissimilar to the body that condemned Jesus to death and handed him over to the Romans for execution. 

The governing council of the Temple was dominated by Sadducees.  The Sadducees were wealthy and powerful.  They collaborated with the Romans, keeping religious order for the right to have considerable power and influence.  They ran the Temple, and its profitable monopoly on forgiveness and purity.  The Sadducees were conservative traditionalists.  They did not believe in resurrection, a new-fangled idea not found in the ancient Torah.  Their imaginations were conscribed and bounded.  If it wasn't in the Torah, they didn't believe it.  If it troubled the good order, they stopped it.

Peter, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, stands bulletproof in front of this threatening and powerful assembly.  He tells then that a man born lame has indeed been healed.  He has been healed by the name of Jesus whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead.  It is unlikely that this entrenched, powerful group of conservatives are going to be able to wrap their imaginations around this.

So often our problems are a crisis of imagination.  We're so used to thinking about things one way that we can't imagine another way.

I heard a story the other day about a consultant who was working with a high tech firm that was foundering.  The company president blamed it on the elevator.  It seems the company was on the top floor of an old warehouse.  The only way to get there was by riding a cramped, very smelly, slow elevator.  By the time the R&D team got to their work, the president was convinced they had lost their creative spark.  Nobody could figure a way to fix the elevator or provide an alternative route to the office.  They were stuck.

The consultant talked about the dilemma at home with his family.  His son laughed, somewhat mockingly.  "It's simple, Dad.  Cookies!"  The dad didn't find this particularly funny.  So he asked his son what he meant.  But he got no reply except a very serious, "Cookies."

Several days later, as he was riding the maddening elevator, the consultant understood in a flash.  Cookies!  The problem wasn't the elevator, it was how the R&D team felt when they left the elevator.  So he set up a table with juices, fruit and healthy cookies right outside the elevator door.  So even though the elevator ride was terrible, the people spent the whole ride in anticipation of the goodies that awaited them.  The paradigm had shifted.

Imagine!

Lowell

__________________

Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Click the following link:
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Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at missionstclare.com -- Click for online Daily Office
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html --  Click for Divine Hours

Discussion Blog:  To comment on today's reflection or readings, go to http://lowellsblog.blogspot.com, or click here for Lowell's blog find today's reading, click "comment" at the bottom of the reading, and post your thoughts.

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas

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