Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Shade Tree Wisdom 11/16/10
Well, when I started this morning it was blowing rather hard and I nearly turned back, but then it stopped, and it was really nice for walking, cool and pleasant.
“Give me that old time religion,
It’s good enough for me.”
Most of us are familiar with that song, usually sung with lusty exhuberance. Usually what the singer has in mind is a religion they remember from their youth, when Sunday was a day of rest, not given to football and games, but a quiet church-going, then a Sunday dinner and a restful afternoon of maybe taking a nap and visiting. And everybody went to church or at least respected it.
What happened? Where did things go so far amiss? All churches report fewer numbers and lighter attendance. How did the Church lose that initial spurt that it started with. Where is the energy those early Christians had? Where is the joy over the story of the Resurrection?
The first story of Easter always ended with someone running, to share the news, to pass the word, to get someone else involved, but they are running. St. Paul writes, “Our Gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit with full conviction.” (1 Thess. 1,5.) And the word St. Paul uses suggests a cup filled to overflowing so that whenever it is jostled it spills over. It suggests Christians so full of the story that they just overflowed with the Good News wherever they were. The sheer power of the Spirit in their lives drew people to Christ.
St. Mark had written, ”The Gospel must first be preached to all nations, whenever you are arrested and brought to trial don‘t worry beforehand what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Ghost.” Mark 13, 11.
What’s this? “Trial?” “Arrested” What are we getting into here? Jesus taught them beforehand, “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world’. John 16,33. Paul said it also, “We must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God”. Acts 14,22.And so also the other Apostles. Peter in his first letter, for instance, (1 Peter 4, 12ff.)
That is why Paul details the weapons we have. In his letter to Ephesus he describes the armor, ending with “The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”. Eph.6,10-17. The very weapon Jesus used in his temptation in the wilderness, He used the Word of God “It is written” and the devil left him.
So why isn’t the Church growing now as it did at the first? We have this Word, do we not. And we believe that “The Word of God is alive, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the diving asunder of the soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and the attitudes of the heart.” (Heb 4,12).
It is my prayer that we, each, reads and studies that Word as God’s Word to our life now. May He enrich the reading and the doing that follows as surely as night follows day.