Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Half Full or Half Empty?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 -- Week of Proper 18
Harry Thacker Burleigh, Composer, 1949

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
     (Book of Common Prayer, p. 983)
Psalm 45(morning)    //    47, 48 (evening)  
Job 29:1-20
Acts 14:1-18
John 10:31-42

Is the cup half full or is it half empty?

On the one hand, Jesus heals a man born blind.  It is a wondrously good act testifying to the presence of God with him.  On the other hand, he announces his oneness with God, an impossible and heretical claim.

Both sides can quote their scripture.  Has there ever been a conflict between religious people when that wasn't true.  Jesus cites Psalm 82:6 -- "Now I say to you, 'You are gods, and all of you children of the Most High.'"  Then he points to the works.  Are then not good works, consistent with the works that God does?  He reasserts that "the Father is in me and I am in the Father."  They aren't convinced.  But it's enough that he is able to escape arrest.

What do you see?  The half full or the half empty glass?  The good works or the questionable theology?  A human being who is one with God or a mere finite creature at a metaphysically infinite distance from God?

Jesus tends to fall on the half full side of these dilemmas.  Later on in John's gospel he will extend the astonishing talk about oneness with God.  He will continue to assert his own union, but he will say to his friends that they share such a divine identity and intimacy as well.  You remember the language -- "I am in the Father, and you in me and I in you...  The Spirit abides with you, and will be in you."  And his prayer to God, "As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us."

Jesus' claim of union with God includes us.  We are one with God.  We live in Christ in God.  The Spirit abides in us.  "You are gods, and all of you children of the Most High." 

Or, others will point out in scripture, we are sinners, unholy and separated from God.  You remember the language.  Miserable offenders, unworthy to pick up the crumbs that fall from thy table.  All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  The wages of sin is death. 

For most people, it seems, it was easier to believe that Jesus was blaspheming than that he was speaking the truth about his oneness with God.  Probably for most people, it is easier to believe that they are sinners than that they are divine. 

How different might life be if we all reconsidered?  What if it is true?  "You are gods, and all of you children of the Most High."  Might make us feel a little different about ourselves.  Might make us feel a little different about others.  That glass may look a little fuller than it did.


Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Go to: http://www.stpaulsfay.org/id244.html

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 http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html

Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location

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


At 8:05 AM, Blogger Chris Lynch said...

Nice reminder on this wonderful Tuesday morning. Thank you!

At 2:29 PM, Anonymous mike wertz said...

It seems that Jesus knew and accepted the law of the prophets and lived that law in a loving manner, which is the only way that you can really live the law. He completed the law in that sense -- did not abolish it, just demonstrated that you cannot obey law without love in your heart.

We are disobedient and selfish in our animal/material nature (hence the sinner stuff, one would suppose). But it is interestingly so often the religious minded who most reject his message. Those who seek to control through fear and a natural logic based in fear and physical well being.

Jesus was not fearful it does not seem to me. He was quite courageous in the face of all that opposed him. He was a bit uncertain at times, but... who wouldn't be in that position? He was, after all, following the dictates of his heart and the invisible God. Not much of anybody else was seeing the God that Jesus saw it doesn't seem like. He was a crank at best, a heretic at worst. He threatened the existing order.
He was a terrorist, a nut job, a rocker of the boat.

Why are we so afraid still? I guess God designed it that way. For us to have to overcome our fear in order to find communion with God.

There is a lot to be afraid of in life for sure. To trust God to the max that Jesus did -- to fly in the face of social and religious convention -- and to do so with a simple message that everybody who was anybody rejected as foolish at best. I bet he would have got a visit from the nice men in white lab coats if he were walking around in 2012. Would have got his own private room and the robe would have been a jacket with wrap around arms and straps on it. Might have made the local news, though not probably. Not nearly violent enough for our tastes.

And we still reject it, most of us. At least that is what I have found. We like to talk about God as some distant esoteric thing. It feels nice to talk about but to seek to follow that God in our daily doings is asking too much, really. Where is Johnnie's college fund going to come from? God takes care of those who take care of themselves -- to the logical extreme. And God knows we adore and idolize big bank accounts. Many even vote for them.

Hard to serve both. Daily, even moment to moment conflicts arise. Good luck.

Don't make no difference. It all comes out. Has to. We are all a part of the living God -- or we are not. You choose for yourself. No one else can choose for you, that's for sure.

Enough already.


At 5:52 PM, Blogger Lowell said...

There is something powerful about that verse "Perfect love casts out fear."



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home