Thirtieth Day of Easter   12 comments

Ancient Site of Lystra, 1913

The Ancient Site of Lystra, 1913

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-138548

Breaking Bad Spiritual Habits

Monday, April 30, 2018

++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 14:1-18 (Revised English Bible):

At Iconium they [Paul and Barnabas] went together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke to such purpose that Jews and Greeks in large numbers became believers.  But the unconverted Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the Christians.  So Paul and Barnabas stayed on for some time, and spoke boldly and openly in reliance on the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to work signs and miracles.  The populace was divided, some siding with the Jews, others with the apostles.  A move was made by Gentiles and Jews together, with the connivance of the city authorities, to maltreat them and stone them, and when they became aware of this, they made their escape to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and the continuing country.  There they continued to spread the good news.

At Lystra a cripple, lame from birth, who had never walked in his life, sat listening to Paul as he spoke.  Paul fixed his eyes on him and, and seeing that he had the faith to be cured, said in a loud voice,

Stand up straight on your feet;

and he sprang up and began to walk.  When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted, in their native Lycaonian,

The gods have come down to us in human form!

They called Barnabas Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the spokesman.  The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and he and the people were about to offer sacrifice.

But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed into the crowd, shouting,

Men, why are you doing this?  We are human beings, just like you.  The good news we bring tells you to turn from these follies to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.  In past ages he has allowed all nations to go their own way; and yet he has not left you without some clue to his nature, in the benefits he bestows: he sends you rain from heaven and the crops in their seasons, and gives you food in plenty and keeps you in good heart.

Even with these words they barely managed to prevent the crowd from offering sacrifice to them.

Psalm 115:1-13 (Revised English Bible):

Not to us, LORD, not to us,

but to your name give glory

for your love, for your faithfulness!

Why should the nations ask,

Where, then, is their God?

Our God is high in heaven;

he does whatever he wills.

Their idols are silver and gold,

made by human hands.

They have mouths, but cannot speak,

eyes, but cannot see;

they have ears, but cannot hear,

nostrils, but cannot smell;

with their hands they cannot feel,

and their feet they cannot walk,

and no sound comes from their throats.

Their makers become like them,

and so do all who put their trust in them.

But Israel trusts in the LORD:

he is their help and their shield.

The house of Aaron trusts in the LORD:

he is their help and their shield.

Those who fear the LORD trust in the LORD:

he is their help and their shield.

The LORD who has been mindful of us will bless us,

he will bless the house of Israel,

he will bless the house of Aaron.

The LORD will bless those who fear him,

both high and low.

John 14:15-26 (Anchor Bible):

[Jesus said,]

If you love me and keep my commandments, then at my request the Father will give you another Paraclete to be with you forever.  He is the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot accept since it neither sees nor recognizes him; but you do recognize him since he remains with you and is within you.  I shall not leave you orphans; I am coming back to you.  In just a little while the world will not see me any more; but you will see me because I have life and you will have life.  On that day you will recognize that I am in the Father, and you are in me, and I in you.  Whoever keeps the commandments that he has from me is the man who loves me; and the man who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him.

Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said,

Lord, what can have happened that you are going to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?

Jesus answered,

If anyone loves me, we will keep my word.  Then my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our dwelling place with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word that you hear is not my own but comes from the Father who sent me.  I have said this to you while I am still with you.  But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, that the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you [myself].

The Collect:

O Lord, you have given us the grace to know the resurrection of your Son:  Grant that the Holy Spirit, by his love, may raise us to newness of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

+++++++++++++++++++

We human beings, regardless of our cultural, religious, and educational backgrounds, regard and think of what we can see and cannot see in human terms.  That is our frame of reference.  This is not a spiritual problem if we recognize that we must think in metaphors, and that these metaphors point to a higher reality.  Thus we Christians have inherited theological language of God the Father and the God the Son, for example.  These metaphors are beautiful and meaningful, but they are merely metaphors.  I am not attached to them in any negative or positive way, preferring to refer to God only as “you” in private prayer, yet I do not object to praying corporately to “God the Father” and “God the Son.”  Also, inclusive language comes in two forms:  good and bad.  Bad inclusive language sounds eerily like a boring job description.

Whatever the ultimate nature of God is, human metaphors can describe it only partially.

To overcome learned religion can be difficult, as it was for those who thought Paul and Barnabas as Zeus and Hermes incarnate.  Polytheism is ancient, and practiced Monotheism is a relatively recent development.  The deification of aspects of nature and divinity as anthropomorphic figures has been a frequent practice, and remains commonplace in the world today.  To their credit, Paul and Barnabas gave glory to the one and only God, but their audience did not grasp their message.

The season of Easter lasts for fifty days.  Day Number Fifty is Pentecost, a foreshadowing of which we receive in this day’s reading from John.  Through the Holy Spirit we can understand great spiritual truths.  So, however we think of God metaphorically, we can relate on some level (only with divine help) to God.  Some basic spiritual lessons pertain to keeping the commandments of Jesus, maintaining good practices, ceasing bad practices, and understanding the differences between people and God.  These are not merely private and individual.   No, they have social implications.  (One major fault with certain varieties of Protestantism is focusing on individuals at the expense or to the exclusion of society.)

So, what is God saying to you?  What will God say to you?  And how will these messages change you and lead you to have an impact on your community and/or society?  Society is not an abstraction; it consists of individuals.  People can change it, and many have, for both good and ill.  So I challenge you to listen to God and leave society better than you found it.  And you can start by distinguishing between good habits and bad habits then resisting the bad and turning toward the good.  Only the one God, whose nature exceeds any metaphor, can guide us in this quest.

KRT

Published originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 6, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/breaking-bad-spiritual-habits/

Advertisements

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2018, April, Easter, Episcopal Church Lectionary

Tagged with , ,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: