Monday, 2 February 2009

Surviving the Etceteras of Life

Posted: 02 Feb 2009 01:00 AM CST
Mal 3:1-4 / Heb 2:14-18 / Lk 2:22-40
In ancient Rome in the days of Nero some poor Christian was being chased around the coliseum by a ferocious lion. The faster he ran, the faster the lion ran. Eventually, it was obvious that the end was near, so the poor fellow fell to his knees and prayed aloud, “Dear Lord, make this lion a Christian!”
With that, the lion fell to his knees and began to pray, “Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive….” The end WAS near!
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Recently there appeared in the newspaper a cartoon depicting a prophet of doom with a long beard and flowing robes and a sign that read: “The end is NOT near. You’ll have to learn to cope!”
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Sometimes the lions really are chasing us. But most of the time what we face are not lions but the numbing etceteras of life, the little things that have to be done, and done well, over and over. Lawns don’t stay mowed. Taxes don’t stay paid. Perfect roofs don’t stay perfect. And as every child knows, homework doesn’t stay done.
“A mother’s work is never done,” goes the old saying. Quite true, but neither is anyone else’s work ever done! And after a while, when the novelty has worn off and year follows upon year, we can get worn down. We can lose heart and be tempted to give up or run away.

So how do we keep going — not just surviving, putting one foot in front of the other? How do we keep moving forward with spirit, glad that we’re alive? The old man Simeon in today’s Gospel gives us a clue. When Mary and Joseph showed up at the temple to present their new baby to the Lord, Simeon took little Jesus tenderly in his arms and whispered, “I knew you’d come! I knew it!”

It was that knowing that kept Simeon alive on the inside across those many years. It was that knowing that gave every day of his life joy and energy. And how had he known? The Gospel says the Holy Spirit had been with him from the beginning. He’d never walked alone, and so he knew from the inside that God could never abandon his people — not even one of them.
The Spirit is knocking softly at our inner door, offering us the same energy, the same quiet joy that carried Simeon all the way to the end of his good life.
The Spirit is knocking. Open the door, and walk alone no more!

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