Pastor’s Email Devotion
The Week of Epiphany 2
January 17, 2016
And the Word became flesh and lived among us. (John 1:14, NRSV)
I’ve always loved Jesus’ parables. I’m a lover of stories more than doctrine, so that’s part of it. I’m also a visual learner, and the parables are as visual as they come. I spent a fair amount of time in seminary studying them, and I am typically glad to engage them when they show up as Sunday sermon fodder. Although I wasn’t preaching today, it was one of those days, when we had four parables in our lesson for the day – led by one of the alpha dogs of the parabolic world – “The Parable of the Sower.” I loved Vicar’s classic consideration of it, and I thought Pr. Pretz’s visualization of it in the Children’s Sermon was magnificent. I was so glad I was in church today.
Part of what I love about the parables is the way they force us to stand with a foot in the real world and a foot in the spiritual world. Sure, they use images that are as earthy as they come … seeds, tenants, lamps, coins, sheep, and ordinary people. But those earthy hooks, drag us into the spiritual world, sometimes against our better judgment. And therein is their value. We often want to separate the two worlds that live within us. We are tempted to deal with the “real” world in concrete and realistic ways, and to deal with the “spiritual” world in symbolic and idealistic ways. But the blessing of the Christian faith is the privilege of understanding that this world and the next are intimately yoked to each other in the life of Christ. Divinity takes on earthly flesh. Text book definition. Many who examine the experience of faith, point to the word “religion” as a guide for how we approach these two worlds. In Latin, “re-ligio” means literally, to “re-bind.” And so the journey of faith is typically an experience in which these two worlds that we like to keep separate, are re-united … re-bound to each other in our experience of God in our lives. We have a distinct advantage as followers of that One who embodied the union of Word and flesh.
Think about those you may know who have a rich prayer life or a deep well of meditative practice in their lives. As often as not, that person has a very tangible focal point for his or her prayer – a candle, an icon, a cross – something that yokes their prayer to the world in which they live … but which also opens a window into the transcendent. Some would even say that in the best of meditative practices, one sees “the face of God,” and experiences the perfect union of flesh and spirit. So … I pray that in your meditation and prayer this week, you may find your connection between these two worlds strong and sure, and that you might have the opportunity to “see the face of God.”
O Jesus, heart of my life, be within me and without, binding that which I see to that which at times is hidden from me. Stretch me from above and below and connect me to that place where spirit takes on flesh in my soul. Bless me through the faith with which you allow me to see your presence. And may I know you as intimately as you know me, and celebrate that privilege in everything I do. Amen.