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Where do the wars among you come from?

by davesandel on September 19th, 2021

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 19, 2021                     (today’s lectionary)

Where do the wars among you come from?

Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder.

The “Half-Way Tree, still standing south of Brodhead, WI just north of the Illinois border, is a big bur oak standing at the midway point of an old Indian trail, which is the shortest walking route between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River.

The spot is accurate. Paced off, surveyed in 1882, and visible for all to see on Google Maps, that spot marks a middle ground more easily found by surveyors of the earth than of the mind. I need that midpoint more and more in my life – in my relationships, my theology, my church … everywhere and in everything. When I get carried away onto one side or another, I make critical, unnecessary judgments with more or less (mostly less) self-awareness, and suddenly I’m unhappy. Shut down inside, argumentative, ugly. I feel like I might be ready to start a war.

About all I have to fight with is a BB gun. I had a slingshot when I was a kid, and Dad shot starlings out of the trees now and then with a shotgun. We didn’t do much hunting. Any hunting, that I remember. I was a reader, not a shooter.

My BB gun is for shooting at squirrels in our Urbana backyard who were tearing up my birdfeeders. The BBs were so slow, I could watch them hit their target or not. The gun’s still loaded up, sitting in the corner of our computer room in Illinois.

Doesn’t your conflict start in passions that make war within your members? For example, you covet what you do not possess. Your envy turns bitter, and thus you fight to get what you want. But you do not possess because you do not ask. Or more often you simply ask out of selfish jealousy, and therefore you do not receive.

Lately I’ve noticed how impatient I get when someone talks too long in a group, or even in a simple one-on-one discussion. Twice this week I wanted to just walk out of the group I was in, because I got so frustrated. (Frustrated is a more polite word for angry.) Margaret said she would pray for me, because she wants me to be a giver, not a taker in those moments. I want that too. Can’t I minister to someone rather than judging them? And don’t I do the same thing sometimes, when I get the chance? Re: the log in my own eye?

Wisdom from above is pure, and therefore peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits.

In fourth grade I fell into a wrestling match with the strongest, most popular kid in school, and I won the match. His name was David too. We were friends after that, and at a high school reunion much later on, we had a jalapeno eating contest, which he won hands down.

A year later, again after lunch, I got into an argument with an unpopular kid named Gene. A friend held his arms and I hit him in the stomach.

What on earth? Was I such a hot shot? Why did I do that, especially after lunch? I don’t remember if Gene threw up. I do remember seeing his obituary a few years ago. He had been a lawn care and maintenance guy at Lincoln Christian Seminary for decades.

Wisdom from above is constant and sincere. The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.

Those words pour hope into my heart. Show me how to cultivate peace, Lord. Reflect that peace into other lives.

Taking a child, Jesus placed her in their midst and putting his arms around her said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me.”

Let me relax, Lord. Show me how to be Your kid, and be happy.

(Wisdom 2, Psalm 54, James 3, 2 Thessalonians 2, Mark 9)

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