Sunday, September 17, 2006

Another piece of the puzzle

Some people love doing jigsaw puzzles; I'm bored stiff. I don't have the eye for shapes, or the patience for tiny accomplishments, especially when the puzzle has a million pieces and half of it is clear blue sky. Yet today's lessons, prayers and hymns came together exactly like a jigsaw puzzle: suddenly a huge area of the puzzle of my life fell into place from one phrase here, another line of hymn there. Amazing. No wonder people sit for hours looking at all those tiny pieces!

The Gospel reading, (Mark 8: 27-38) one I've heard so many times before: Jesus asks his disciples "Who do you say that I am?" and then later... "What will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?" Couple that with the lesson from James (2: 1-5, 8-10) about discrimination between our welcomes of the well-dressed and those who are obviously poor... and the combination gave our celebrant a whole new spin for her homily.

She talked about a situation from life, an embezzlement scandal that involved a man she knew, someone she had thought of as "one of the good guys." What had happened to make him change from being Christ-centered to world-centered? Could it have been the circumstances of living alongside a wealthy environment... the need to wear the correct apparel or be turned away as one of the poor... a growing sense of entitlement in a world where everyone else had more to show for themselves than he...? All were possibilities. All came back to the question Jesus asks of his disciples: just who am I to you?

If my identity is hard wired to my relationship with Jesus, as opposed to what the world expects of me, then my questions will be different, and my decisions will be based on a different reality.

Both the opening and closing hymns echoed this same area of the puzzle:

New advent of the love of Christ
shall we again refuse thee
til in the night of hate and war
we perish as we lose thee?

and finally:

Give thanks for those who made their life a light,
caught from the Christ flame, bursting through the night,
who touched the truth, and burned for what is right.

One of the questions I've been asking God lately is: "Where do you want me to do your will?" Maybe that's the wrong question. Maybe the question ought to be "Where can I nourish my relationship with Jesus?" Another piece of the puzzle...

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