Pastor’s Email Devotion
The Week of Easter 3
April 19, 2015
Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 14Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.” (James 5:13-15, NRSV)
May I invite you to consider yourself a tire, for a moment? Not just any tire, of course … a radial tire. And not just any radial tire, but an all-weather, top of the line, radial tire. Please, please, don’t thank me. I know you have waited for this invitation for a long time. Oh, and just to be clear, the metaphor applies to you as a person of faith, not just a breathing human body. Anyway … in my sermon at New Day this morning I spoke about a “faith for all seasons.” And as I thought about illustrations around the “all-season” theme, three came to mind: a tree in four different seasons of bloom or barrenness … Paul Scofield, playing the role of “the man for all seasons” in the same named 1966 movie … and an all season radial tire. I could not stomach the thought of Mr. Scofield as my illustration, and I couldn’t find a vibrant picture of a tire for my slide show. So I went with the tree. It fit a little better with the direction of the sermon, also … yeah, there was that, too. But this “tire” image has hung around in the sermon-prep room in my mind. And as you have learned over the years, this scenario usually leads to it showing up in my evening devotion.
So, my thinking goes like this…. To have a faith life like a radial tire presumes that you admit to the presence of storms and rough roads in life. You recognize that the world is not a perfect place and that life is not simple. You accept the reality and find ways to take your journey through your years with the hope and trust that God will help you find ways to survive the journey … and dare we pray – to enjoy and thrive on the journey?
The alternative is more frightening in my view. It is to expect a life with no bumps, no detours, no problems. A life that is so sterile and placid that you might wake up in the morning wondering if you are in fact alive. It suggests a life that has no nuance and texture, and which thus in some ways may not even be living.
So in your prayers and reflections this week, give some thought to what your expectations are in life as a person of faith. No one craves troubles in life; no one wishes for misfortune. But in the secret places of your soul, do you ever pray for a journey that is smooth and steady with no issues? Or do you pray for strength whatever the world throws your way? It is not my place to advise you about what the correct expectations are for your faith journey. But I will invite you of offer serious reflection … with an eye to Scripture … with an eye to the history of God with God’s people … and with an inner eye upon your heart and soul.
God of redemption, you saw your people as slaves in Egypt and delivered them from captivity; you see works of violence and weep then heal. Relieve the suffering of all who are opposed by the world. Grant them peace of mind and a renewed faith in your protection and care; for we pray this through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.