Love Makes Work Easy

“When anything is done from realized love, it is easy.” So claims Clarence Thomson in his book ‘Parables and the Enneagram’ (p.61).
These are words worth pondering, especially for leaders who struggle with the demands, burdens and daily vicissitudes of their work. He goes on to share his experience of watching a group of boys play ball – lest “love” seem too sublime an answer to the challenge of a leader’s work: “What they [the boys] want most is to exert themselves because they love the game. A musician will play, not work, a difficult piece of music. Anything done out of love, regardless of effort, becomes easy. Without love, all is work.” With love, work – whatever that work is – becomes a joyful and easy expression of your self. Love negates the false dichotomy between effort and ease.

Thanksgiving from the Church – Day of Thanksgiving-A

Please read Luke 17:11-19

Once upon a time, there was an orchestra. This orchestra was, in some ways, quite ordinary. It was a regular kind of orchestra; you might know there are four main types of instruments in any full orchestra:

  1. The string section – with violins, cellos and
    string bass
  2. The woodwind section – with oboes, flutes and
  3. The brass section – with trumpets, horns and
  4. And, the percussion section – with timpani
    drums, harps and cymbals

But at a concert that they were giving for the Queen, the entire percussion section didn’t show up for the rehearsal scheduled right before their performance. All the other members were there, so they tried anyways to play their pieces for practice.

But, as you may know, one of the purposes of the percussion section is to help everyone else keep the beat. Because the percussion section wasn’t there, and the rest of the orchestra didn’t have the beat to keep them in sync, their rehearsal flopped – they sounded terrible because everyone was playing their parts to different rhythms.

Everyone was quite worried. How would they sound for the Queen without the percussion section? Would they even be able to perform? In the moments before their performance when the percussion section still hadn’t showed up, the conductor seriously considered cancelling their performance, which would have effectively ruined their reputation as one of the best orchestras in the country.

Thankfully, just before the conductor went to tell the bad news to the Queen, all the members of the percussion section rushed through the door. How grateful everyone else in the orchestra felt to see their friends from the percussion section!

I think the church is like that orchestra. In baptism we become members of the church. Each of us has a specific and vital role to play in the healthy functioning of the church. Each of us has specific gifts of offer, so that under the direction of the conductor – Jesus – when we play together we make a beautiful sound to the world around us.

The moral of the story is: we need everyone’s input in order to be healthy as a church. Everyone has to do their part for us to be effective in our ministry. And, basically, how
our parts get played out — if it’s good and healthy — is from an attitude of gratitude for being included in God’s church and God’s mission.

When Jesus healed the sick people – the ten lepers – in the story from the bible, he was blessing them. When Jesus healed them, he effectively invited them into the family of God, welcoming them to belong.

When we belong to the family of God, Jesus promises to bless us with his grace and love forever. This belonging is a wonderful thing because no matter what happens in our lives, no matter where we go or who we’re with, God will always be there for us.

It’s a cause for thanksgiving, is it not? To be thankful? One of those who was healed came back to thank Jesus.

And that’s what the church is all about. In all that we do and are, we give thanks to God by giving our gifts – our gifts of music, song, words, love, money, help, service – whatever. We give thanks.

Lukas asked to sing a song at his baptism, I believe as a gesture of thanksgiving to God, for inviting him and welcoming him into the family of God. Thank you, Lukas, for your witness and expression today of thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Turn-Around God

When at the beginning of September the Tampa Bay Rays were some half-a-dozen or more games behind the Boston Red Sox for the American League wild card spot, the die was cast as far as I was concerned: The Red Sox would once again meet their Eastern Division rivals — the famed New York Yankees — in the post-season. It was a foregone conclusion.

On the last night of the regular season at the end of September, I can’t think of a more nail-biting finish to determine the wild card. Not only were the Sox and Rays tied for the wild card going into the last game — the Rays had mounted an incredible come back throughout September and the Red Sox lost more games than they won — the way those games went into extra innings was epic, to say the least.

For seven innings in both games (Boston vs. Baltimore and New York vs. Tampa Bay) my “foregone” conclusions were indeed coming to pass: Boston was winning by several runs, and so was New York. Therefore, September was going to go down as an anomaly in the eventual placing of the Sox in the wild card position.

But alas! Baltimore tied the game by the ninth, sending the game into extra innings; Tampa Bay tied its game by the ninth to force extra innings as well. And Surprise!  When all was said and done, Tampa Bay won its game …. and the Red Sox lost theirs.

I guess what may appear to be a foregone conclusion was not the way to go. It isn’t the way to go when “guessing” winners and losers. It isn’t the way to go in life.

And it certainly isn’t the way to go, with God.

The Christian God is a turn-around God. Always surprising us with grace. Always rising out of the dust. Never a foregone conclusion based on the “evidence”.

I realize I’ve thrown in a heap of superlatives. Yet I can’t think of a better way to describe “God”!

When death appears to be a foregone conclusion, the end game, based on the evidence of deteriorating bodies and physical capacities of our human existence, what do we say about the nature and activity of God?

Standing by the graveside of a loved one recently inurned, death seems so final. So does God.

Nevertheless, I don’t want to underestimate God. Because my hunch is that it is in God’s nature to mount an incredible comeback and surprise everyone at the end of it all.

It is called: Resurrection. New life out of death.