Show Me What You Want Me to See


A Reflection for December 10, 2015 — from Philippians 4:4-7, Luke 3:7-18

“Show me what you want me to see.”  Cathy H. George, in her Advent meditations, the Stillness We Seek, suggests this prayer.  It struck me Monday morning when I first read it, and it has been resonating within me throughout the week.  

“Show me what you want me to see.”  A risky prayer: God does show me, then I have to do something, and that can get uncomfortable.

 “Show me what you want me to see.”  I’m troubled by the violence and bigotry so prevalent in this moment, the violence we do to one another, and the wastefulness and loss we bear.  My soul yearns for the world to be different.  This troubles me.  I want our ministry to make the world better, closer to the reign of God.  

So, I prayed for God to show me what God wanted me to see.  Then I read the psalm appointed for the day, Psalm 37.  “Do not fret because of the wicked…  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.  Do not fret… do not fret….”  Sometimes, God is pretty clear with me.

I was hoping for a brilliant insight addressing global issues.  I mean, this week, my amazing colleagues are writing powerful words about bearing public witness and improving the conversation among people of faith.  

Heidi is committing to wearing clergy collar and hijab together in solidarity with Muslim women. (http://www.celebrationlc.org/)   

Dan is articulating an invitation to address “altruistic violence” and the myth of redemptive violence by committing to a spiritual discipline of “participatory imagination” and to “meaning transfusion” for our culture.  (http://bishopdansblog.blogspot.com/)  

Terry is discussing the Gospel and slavery and dimensions of love, and hosting interfaith conversations, invitations to relationship. (http://catacombchurches.org/2015/12/08/visions-from-the-catacombs-week-before-december-13-2015/)  

Skilled theologians are putting out important thinking!

The world is being torn apart by violence and misunderstanding.  People of faith, now more than ever, are needed to show a different way.  Preachers need to inspire us all to be at the top of our evangelical game!  

And I get “do not fret…” and “be still.”  It’s embarrassing.

C’mon!  How are we gonna change the world with “do not fret…” and “be still”?  

This week’s Gospel reading shows John’s audience hearing his passionate preaching and asking, "What then should we do?"  His response in simple: If you have clothing others need, share yours.  If you have food others need, share yours.  Don’t take more that you need.

Having insulted them as “brood of vipers” and engaged their attention, having proclaimed God’s bold message and opened their hearts, this was the best John could think of to ask?!  He had them in the palm of his hand and he made a request so mundane?!

Yep.

I’m thinking that God is asking of us to start where we are, as we are, in simple and realistic ways to heal the world -- with the homeless of the Skagit Valley and the children in our schools and individual commitments to love in tangible ways.  Be there.

So I’m going to trust God and still myself a moment.  Who knows how God might use that?!  “Don’t just do something, stand there!!”

Our readings this week call us to joy.  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”  “Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel!  Rejoice and exult with all your heart…”  Know that there is more than this moment.

What if we were to live that invitation to joy by starting in stillness and trust, instead of vehement discussion and hasty reactivity?  It wouldn’t appear dramatic.  Not an easy fix for the troubles of our broken world.  But a beginning.

Maybe that is what Advent is about: beginning again where we are to lean into God and act from a place of sacred stillness.  

The danger, of course, is that we “confuse ‘stagnant’ with ‘calm’ and call it holiness.”  (Thank you, Joan Chittister.)  The danger is that we pray and prepare and never actually DO anything. The danger is we will miss the moment when thoughtful, moderate people must act boldly.

Still, when I asked God to show me what God wanted me to see, that is what I saw: “do not fret…” and “be still.”  

I’m gonna take some time to pause, to listen.  To sit in contemplative prayer.  To sleep, perchance to dream.  To participate in yoga.  To join the volleyball folks for lunch.  To heal.  And to give the Spirit of God a little room to nudge and inspire… in order to be better equipped for powerful action. 

Then I will stand with the supporters of Planned Parenthood in public witness on Saturday morning.  I will think and pray with others and Joan Chittister about the contradictions of life.  I will pray with you and preach repentance, joy in the darkness, in our public worship.  I will help organize interfaith conversations in Skagit County.  I will wear my scarf in solidarity.  And I will remain alert for God’s next move.

We are changing the world.  

What do you believe?  Let’s talk.  

helen

helen@mcpeak.org


stpaulmv@comcast.net