Sunday, May 12, 2013

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C
Acts 16:16-34
Psalm 97
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
John 17:20-26
Today’s Reflection:
Reading each of the passages today led me to make a list of questions:
How would you feel if following God caused you to lose your means of income?
How would you respond if following God caused you to experience physical suffering?
How would you react if you were suddenly freed form the bonds that limited you?
How would you live your life if you knew you were a part of God and God was a part of you?
Each question comes up in the text of today’s passages and gives us reason to consider how deep our faith truly penetrates.

Paul and his compatriots lived and answered the first three questions because they knew the answer to the fourth. The spirit that possessed a young girl recognized the power of God within the men. This is just one of many experiences when a spirit-power (demon) recognized the authority of God over all creation and responds to a command from him, though it is somewhat unique that the spirit proclaimed to the community that Paul’s message was the way to salvation. Despite the spirit’s recognition of the truth recognized that it was not a holy state for the girl and allowing such a spirit any kind of authority over man undermined their message that Jesus was the only way to salvation, so Paul cast the demon out.

That spirit provided a good income for the girl’s owners and they were unhappy that the girl had been healed of her affliction. Throughout the Bible healing often brings unintended consequences: no good deed goes unpunished. Doing God’s will can prove costly as it interferes with the comfort zone many (including many who call themselves faithful) have built around themselves, and as a result, it often comes with resistance and consequences. Such was the response to Paul casting out the demon. No one in the community celebrated the healing of the young girl or the miraculous power behind it; they considered the impact on their own lives.

The resulting uproar led to the beating and imprisonment of Paul and the others who accepted the consequences of doing what God commanded. They understood the unique relationship between God and humankind. Through Christ, we are a part of God and God is a part of us. It can be easy to forget the indwelling nature of the Holy Spirit as part of God, but it should be something continually on the mind of the believer as we decide how we are living our lives. When I consciously remember the presence of God, I know I reconsider what I am saying and the tone I use in saying it. I consider carefully what it is I am doing.

Remembering God’s constant presence with us is challenging. I know I do not always do it as much as I would like to. Remembering God’s constant presence with us, though, gives the world the God it needs.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts.