Paul’s letters to his mission churches reveal the pains and pleasures of being the family of faith. To the churches in the territory of Galatia we overhear Paul giving advice on how to be a functional family. "So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up." We can almost feel Paul’s arm around our shoulders, giving us a squeeze, and his pastoral words of encouragement: Don’t grow tired of it all and for goodness’ sake, don’t give up!
Paul had been around the block a few times. He knew the problems in bringing together a multicultural, multiracial, multipolitical church and expecting it to be one big happy family. We have never quite managed it. Paul advises us not to grow weary in doing what is right.
The opportunities for growing weary of doing right are many. We think we are doing what is right when local clergy decide to plan an ecumenical Thanksgiving service for the entire community. What a wonderful symbol of unity this could be! But then they find themselves weary worship planners as differences over liturgy, music, appropriate service leaders and what to do about the offering come crashing in. We wonder why just believing in Jesus isn’t enough to gather us together. Sometimes we want to quit the family.
Paul was the first Christian to attempt doing the right thing in a pluralistic society. He not only attempted it, he believed it could be done. He believed in the family concept. He accepted the notion that very different people could coexist in one family; that they could love one another, and that they could work for a common good. He believed diversity was not a curse but a wonderful blessing of creation.
What makes us weariest, Paul teaches us, is not that we are different, but that we act as if our way of functioning in the body is the best way. This causes family fights like nothing else. We do right when we understand our differences as gifts of God and not devices of the devil. We do the right thing when we publicly acknowledge that left to ourselves we can do nothing right. We do right when we keep Christ in the center.
Faithful God, the harvest is indeed plentiful. So much to do and so much to be done. Our communities, cities and towns, our own harvest fields today are ripe for the picking. Make us faithful to the task. When our bodies grow weary, when our arms grow tired, when the harvest to be gathered seems more than we can handle, speak a word of grace and envelop us in your peace. May we be reminded everyday that you have called us to sow and to reap in the Spirit for your kingdom. Grant that we may not feel tempted to give up. Amen.
The ole blogger takes a break over the weekend. Or rather, he prepares to go public at 10:55 Sunday morning. Hope to see you then.