I am just coming back from a week of rest and relaxation with friends. It was WONDERFUL! I love my work. But I also love being away and recharging. It is something we Americans aren’t particularly good at – taking vacations.
Well this one was a great one – exploring different places like Eureka Springs, eating in new places, and on the way there getting to participate in the ordination of former Dir. of Children and Youth Sarah Chancellor!!! Often it was a battle of self trying to resist the temptation to answer calls, emails, and texts, and spend the whole day working. Those cell phones that are our cameras are also tied into the endless emails of our lives. Interestingly enough, our passages today talk about “battles of self” like this.
Our New Testament reading is straight forward: Love one another. Love God. Some could argue this reading sounds like a broken record, repeating everything surrounding this theme.
In fact, “Owe no one anything, except to love one another.” He then declares that a number of the Ten Commandments can be summarized in the words, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But lest we think Paul doesn’t have anything new and adventurous today, he goes on to make an urgent appeal to always be ready.
With images of light and darkness, and the metaphor of changing clothes, Paul urges we replace our vices with virtues – “put on the armor of light”. We must focus on the now – be ready for the now.
A good complement to Paul’s discourse is found in our Joshua reading. In Joshua, the beginning of the story of the takeover of Ai unfolds. It also focuses on the sin of Israel, and accounts for the deep struggling of the people. This is not some grand punishment that roles down on high though. It is the consequence of the people not loving one another. They spend their time squabbling with one another and have lost their focus. It is no wonder they are not the most effective army. They have gone from “an army of one” to an army of self-absorbed nut cases.
In both readings we must be ready for battle in a sense. I find it to be a wonderful image that has lost favor in many Christian circles these days because it isn’t politically correct to talk in violent terms. But the fact is that scripture is often rooted in battle imagery and there is no way around it. One must always be ready to engage someone in love, armed and prepared. This is the irony of that image – the battle is not against some giant foe, but against oneself. Battles are hard. They require courage and fortitude. So does love. But I am sure we can do it – with Christ on our side.
I hope that these Morning Reflections have helped you fall in love with scripture once again, fall in love with God more deeply, realize God’s love for you more deeply, and fall in love with a morning routine of contemplation.