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How to feel your soul being saved

by davesandel on August 29th, 2021

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 29, 2021                      (today’s lectionary)

How to feel your soul being saved

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

I don’t think these gifts are about the day I catch every green light, then find a perfect parking place outside my restaurant and am given a table immediately with my favorite server. Oh, thank you Lord for every good and perfect gift.

So what about the day I wake up in darkness, fumble for my keys, catch all the red lights, park two blocks away and then lock my keys in the car? Now what, Lord? What do I pray if I used up all my prayers yesterday on those “good and perfect gifts?” Am I loved one day, and not the next?

Granted, James and his listeners did not drive cars. But they did drive oxcarts, and traffic was an issue even then. What if Roman soldiers marched all day across the road, and no one could get through until night, and by then the bandits were about, there be miscreants afoot. (What, by the way is a “creant?”

Now, and then (and always), the “shifting shadows” can gitcha, ef you don’t watch out. And in any case, when did our Creator Father Source in Heaven Who Is Love, become an overworked parent at Christmas who gives us gifts and then disappears until next year? God’s presence isn’t about happy juice for a day. God’s presence abounds in darkness just as in the light. His darkness is better seen as womb rather than dragon’s mouth, because even in the belly of the dragon, he tells me he’ll be there.

Our Father chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

So this birth is not clean and carefree. Parts of the placenta probably stick to me all my earthly days. “The word of truth” isn’t homogenized or disinfected. Its purity comes from within itself, and when it sticks to me in its own sometimes disfiguring way, I am made pure too.

Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you, that is able to save your souls. Thus be doers of the word, not hearers only, deluding yourselves.

This is not God’s fault nor, really, is it his problem. He made us to be doers, and it’s always true; when I DO something, when I move around in the world I’m given, when I look to give and be a gift, I can literally feel my soul being saved. My eyes grow wide with wonder, my spine straightens, I think perhaps I can leap tall buildings with a single bound, because God made us all to be Superman, to rescue one another in distress.

Let’s go back to 1938. Before he was dubbed the Man of Steel, Superman was often referred to as the Champion of the Oppressed. Jesus too, right? And we’re his kids, so why not you and why not me? Actually, the rules are simple.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction …

For me this means to stay alert and be a helper, especially if I can redefine orphans and widows just a bit. Go back to the language of the last part of Matthew 25, and look for “the least of these.” Speaking about Jesus’ words, my friend Larry in Indianapolis asked his congregation, “Who are the least of these to you?” Larry decided for himself that those were dying men with AIDS, and he went each week to a hospice, where he took time to become friends with first one man, then another when the first man died. He did this all year, and then preached the sermon again, now with stories to tell of men he had learned to love. And many of his listeners had their own stories too.

and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Larry and his congregation had no time for getting stained, there was just too much to do. Listen. The words drip with temptation toward pride and arrogance, but say them once in a while anyway: “God makes me to be a champion of the oppressed.”

Find a telephone booth, listen to the music, and see how the suit fits. Listen to God whisper, “Now, go and do likewise!”

(Deuteronomy 4, Psalm 15, James 1, Mark 7)

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