Well, it is September and here we go.
First from this week’s Gospel from “The Message”: Luke 14:25-33
25-27 One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.
28-30 “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’
31-32 “Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?
33 “Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.
She showed up without a reservation, as most of God’s emissaries do. Clutching two plastic shopping bags, a scattered look in her eyes, she said quickly, “I was sent by Father Such-and-So. He gave me money and told me to come here.” Rats. The good Father had beat me to it—I, too, would have liked to suggest another ‘here.’ I wanted to say, this isn’t a shelter. I wanted to say, one of the rules in life is you don’t show up unknown at someone’s door and expect to be taken in. Yet here she was. Late at night. Alone.
I like the idea that “entertaining strangers” might bring “angels unaware” into our lives; I just don’t care for the practice. It’s truly lovely, that God sends us the stranger, the interruption, as gift. But what to do with my love of order and stillness, living within my resources, keeping a respectable distance from disruptions? The rest of you, I imagine, are so much better at the Jesus life. Right away you would spot the angel at your door, right away you would know that the unoccupied bed in your house is meant for her. You surely would have ushered in the angel with curiosity and delight, but I felt only trepidation as she walked through the door.
Have you noticed that scripture doesn’t spend a lot of time telling us how to feel as we live as a new creation? It simply says, here’s what you do: entertain strangers, put yourself in their skin, walk in their shoes—prisoners, too, and people being tortured, the whole of suffering humanity. And it says, don’t try this alone. Yoke yourself to Jesus and to one another. I keep forgetting that part—that the “you” in scripture is more often plural than singular.
I keep forgetting that living the Jesus life on my own isn’t difficult. It’s impossible. Alone, I stumble. Alone, I overthink and overdo. Only together will we freely, even joyfully, have the heart to meet the angels that come, whatever their distressing disguises. Only together will we become whole.
By: Kayla McClurg
Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.
But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.