I’m tired of the onslaught of violence in the world: guns and mass murders; abuse of people of color; abuse of women; abuse of children; abuse of money; and on top of all of it, the seemingly endless hypocrisy. I’m tired of being in a rut and feeling stuck. I’m tired of the world as it is and yearn for what the world could be. I’m tired of feeling like I try, but I am just spinning my wheels, like tires stuck in mud. I use to spend the month of November and the days leading up to Thanksgiving thinking about gratitude and those things that I could be thankful for in life. And, although there are things that I am truly, deeply grateful for, the effort to list them feels false and trite to be as if I were trying to hide my head in the sand and pretend that all is well. Last week I asked us to consider the state of our souls. If I really look deeply, I can only say, my soul is agitated because I want to make a difference in the world, I want the world to be a less agitating place.
This week in the Gospel of Matthew we have come to the third in a series of difficult parables. Two weeks ago we had the story about a wicked servant who mistreats other servants, then last week, the story about the ten maidens and what happens to those who are unprepared, and today a story about the workers and a corrupt boss. One worker turns his five “talents” into ten, the other turns his two talents into four, and the third who buried his one talent and returns only the one, saying; “Hey boss, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.”
So, let’s take another look at the third worker. He knows his boss is wicked, evil, and greedy, and he calls him on it. Whereas the first two did exactly what was expected of them without question, the third person calls it like it is, has the courage to speak up against the corruption. This third person shows courage, integrity, and perhaps a reasonable sense of fear because he knows that he will be ostracized for speaking up and telling the truth.
The deeper challenge of this parable is played out in the news today. It’s almost mind boggling how many people, who are tired of burying the injustices of their lives, are speaking up. Now people are finding the courage to speak out against racism, sexual exploitation, and gun violence, people speaking out against violence and injustice in all its forms. Every day. More people. It begs the questions, What is happening? Who are we? and What are we supposed to do?
As Episcopalians the baptismal covenant affords us clear guidelines on who we are and how we are to stand for justice. In fact next week we will have a baptism and we will renew our baptismal vows. These vows ground us, reminding us how we are to live as people of faith, not passively, but courageously. The baptismal covenant reminds us that we are:
To persevere in resisting evil, and whenever we fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord. To proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ. To seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving one’s neighbor as one’s self. To strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being. In other words, we are supposed to be the third worker. But the baptismal covenant also reminds us that we are not alone because to each of these questions the response is: “I will with God’s help.”
Whenever I am feeling particularly exhausted I run on the treadmill. It’s a paradox that cardio exercise actually gives me more energy, but it does. It also relieves stress. Likewise when I am feeling spiritually exhausted I have to do spiritual cardio – I have to take more time for prayer and silence. I have to open myself up to God and trust that God will help.
I fear there is no quick remedy for the tiredness that I feel. There is only the steady determination that prayer and action will move me into a new place.
So perhaps, if you feeling the kind of malaise that I am feeling, there are some things one can do this week to pray and act:
Come and support the Holiday Market this afternoon. The Holiday Market began 7 years ago, during the economic slump, as a way to support local artists, as a response to the shop small initiative, and as a response to the crazy rush of holiday shopping and consumerism that builds from Thanksgiving into Christmas. Our mission to feed people in mind, body, and spirit, is revealed through sharing our building with absolutely nothing gained for ourselves but the opportunity to be gracious and hospitable. So come and greet people who walk into our building and tell them about Christ Church – that the Holiday Market is our gift to artists and one way that we are making a difference in the world, enabling local artists to share their talent. Start your Christmas shopping by supporting these artists. Come to the Evensong and worship with a traditional night prayer set to music. Come and support Chapel Day’s bake sale. Come and support the musicians and enjoy a glass of wine while listening to some fine music. Share this with your friends and invite them to come too.
Come and participate in the Pray/Fast/Act this Tuesday night, which will be a combined initiative with the Centering Prayer group and our monthly invitation to participate in the Presiding Bishop’s call for us to Pray, Fast, and then act for justice, especially environmental justice. Come and take time in silence, listening to God, sharing a simple meal, and pondering ways we can be better stewards of the earth. Invite others who are looking for ways to respond to their anxiety and who want to make a difference in the world.
Sign up to help with the Parents Night Out for Chapel Day on Saturday night, Dec. 2. Spend some time with the children of our preschool and get to know the parents. Help them experience our gratitude that they are here and that we hope that their experience of Christ Church is good.
Be an ambassador for this church every where you go. Share that we are creative and caring, working to do our part to restore some sense of justice in the world. Talk about Blessings in a Backpack, the food pantry, warm clothes for men, Creating Hope International, the League of Women Voters, AA, martial arts and stretching, the community garden, the labyrinth and pet memorial garden, and the many ways we share and care and strive to make a difference through prayer and action.
Maybe a little time on the spiritual treadmill will do the trick, unsticking what’s stuck, relieving the sense of malaise, and reinvigorating a tired soul.
A reflection on the Gospel of Matthew (25:14-30) in Proper 28A