Reflections to start the week
Monday, October 14, 2013
On this federal holiday, Columbus Day, say a prayer for the leaders of our government, for all who face hardship because of the shutdown, and for our common life.
And let me share a story which supposedly takes place after Christopher Columbus returned from “discovery” of the new world (Seems to me there were a few people who had gotten there first, but that’s another topic.) He had dinner with a number of Spanish nobles who apparently thought his exploration was not that big a deal. Anyone could have done it. If he hadn’t done it, someone else would have. Columbus responded by noting that anyone may have been able to do it, but nobody did.
To make his point, he asked his critics if they could get an egg to stand on its own. His dinner guests were unable to do it. After they tried (and tried and tried), Columbus took an egg, tapped one end ever so slightly and rested that egg on the slight dent, standing it on its end. It’s a parable about what it takes to be an explorer, to discover. It was a small thing, a parable issuing a call to think in new ways, to think outside the box, to travel in new directions.
I suspect there is a corollary to the spiritual journey. The Bible is full of stories of spiritual explorers, those who dare adventurous discovery.
It’s the story of Abraham and Sarah, who hear a call from God and leave the comfort of their homeland, heading to a new home, not even knowing where they were going. Where would we be if Abraham and Sarah had heard God’s call and decided it was a wrong number?
It’s the story of Mary, that young girl who is greeted by the angel who tells her she will bear a child that will save the world. Mary, even if a bit afraid, says “Let it be.” (She really said that. Paul McCartney didn’t make it up.) Preachers have speculated on how many other young girls the angel approached before coming upon this young girl adventurous enough to say yes.
It’s the story of Peter, impetuous disciple who never has an unexpressed thought, who sees Jesus walking on the water and decides, for some reason, that he can do that too. He puts one foot over the gunwale, then the next, defying gravity, strolling on the watery surface as long as he kept his eyes on his Lord.
It’s the story of Paul who captures a vision that the community of faith could indeed include all kinds of people who had been excluded before. Stepping outside of the box of his own tradition, education and upbringing, he travels around the Mediterranean rim establishing communities marked by this radical notion: In Christ, there is neither male nor female, slave nor free, Jew nor Gentile. Adventurous indeed. Where would we be if he hadn’t done that?
Take some time today to consider these stories of spiritual explorers, a great cloud of witnesses whose faith leads them to something new and takes them to places they have not gone before. Think of other examples. Ask God to show you some new way to put his love to work in the world. Ask God to guide you in that new pathway. It may be just a very small thing (like standing an egg on its end), but dare to say yes to the exploration of the new life God holds out for you.
Rev. Jay Sidebotham
RenewalWorks is a ministry of Forward Movement.