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Snake in the airport, peace on the plane

Monday, December 26, 2016

Psalm 31:6-8
Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, O Lord, O faithful God. I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy.

A friend recently left with his church group and family for two weeks in Kenya. He has fibromyalgia and diabetes and a knee replacement, and he worried about two very long plane flights with just a short layover between.

He believes (hopes) that once he is on the plane and in the air, there will be no more attacks of doubt. It’s just that in his many moments of physical pain, he can’t help but wonder if God will heal him, or if he will not. Sometimes this lack of clarity is more painful than the aches that attack so many of his muscles.

“Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”

Just what have we been waiting for in Advent? In The Meaning is in the Waiting, Paula Gooder says, “Advent invites us to inhabit a swirl of time that stretches forward and backward but by doing so anchors us in the present … we are waiting for God’s kingdom, for the glimmers of light that mark Jesus’ presence in our midst, for the fragments of end-times peace breaking upon us.”

End-times peace does not always mean physical healing. These are fragments, after all. But end-times peace does always include the precious recollection that if there is any unfairness in the way we are treated by God, it’s a generous unfairness. We all receive far more than our actions deserve.

If every breath we take belongs to God, well then, there you go. Go ahead and breathe. Paul told the Philippians to ask God for what they lack, but always to do it “with thanksgiving.”

My patience really only grows when I taste suffering. I learn to love God, and feel the love he has for me, when I suffer. This is the feast day for St. Stephen, the first martyr of the church. It was Stephen who seemed to express joy as he was dying when he said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Would we all be better off as martyrs, Jesus? It just doesn’t work that way. You attended weddings and baptisms and ate many festive meals. You turned water into wine. You broke up funerals now and then by returning the dead back to life. But I take all of what you give so quickly for granted. Forgive me, Lord. And let me live whatever life you have for me, no matter what.

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