Email Devotion, Easter 7
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.
–Revelation 7:9, NRSV
The responses were not overwhelming … but they were compelling: close friends, parents, pastors, victims who had moved beyond their abuse and abusers, persons who overcame great struggles in their lives. I was honored to read the stories, some short and some long. Saints, each and every one … not ones whose stories will be rehearsed by the Church for centuries to come, but ones whose stories will be remembered by those whose lives they deeply touched. Stories that are the most important ones to you and to me. My thanks to those of you who entrusted your saints into my care for a few moments in time.
As I think about those stories, and the stories of the saints in my life, I am struck by the singularity of each story, which is lived out within the greater commonality of those who are saints in all of our lives. Each story voices a distinctive echo which resonates in the lives of those with whom that saint walks … but each story also touches upon the far larger meta-story of persons who have found effective ways to link the reality of the world to the reality of their faith. It is that unity found within diversity that captures my attention today. Our world seems to be filled with people who find themselves less and less tolerant of views that counter their own. We listen in on leaders in the world who demonize each other, and who imply that there are no valid perspectives on life beyond their own. We observe behavior that we would not tolerate in the actions of the children under our care, and yet tolerate (and at times cheer on) in those upon whom we have bestowed the title of “community leaders,” “celebrities,” and “persons who get things done.” It creates a landscape that is humbling at best and embarrassing at worst. And it flies in the face of everything God suggests to us about the image of “community”, that we find in the Word that has been entrusted into our hands.
So pray this week … pray fervently. Pray for a world that seems hopelessly off its axis, but which we know is never unsalvageable when within it God’s Spirit is still alive. Pray for our leaders … pray fervently. Pray for the wisdom to be three-dimensional in their views and the courage to be willing to stand against the tide of the “same old, same old” agendas of the world. Pray for your part in a world that needs to hear the voice of God within you … Pray fervently. Pray that God will find ways to speak through you, even when you cannot see the potency of those words which are waiting to be spoken and heard. Yes, pray fervently for inspiration as you engage the saints in your life, and pray for strength to use that inspiration to the glory of God in service to others.
O God, you are always bigger than I can imagine, and wiser than I can discern. You regularly surprise me with grace, and call me to share the blessing of that grace with others. Reveal the depths and nuances and diversity of the world in which I live, and give me vigor in embracing that rich loam of peace, justice, and love. Amen.