JANUARY 28, 2015
CHILMARK COMMUNITY CHURCH
REV. ARMEN HANJIAN
(Pastor pulls up a chair facing the cross and reads into mike with back to congregation.)
It’s about time you and I had a talk, Lord. Here I am at least 3/4 of the way thru life and it’s about time I paused to do some evaluation. I am talking to you and to these my friends hoping that this conversation might help all of us think thru where we are in this pilgrimage of life.
Yes, that’s what this life is – it’s traveling thru, How have I travelled in the past, Lord? What’s been happening? What things have I accumulated? And what do I need for days to come? Help me Lord. Help us all to see where we are and what’s occurring in our lives, lest things happen gradually to us and we become what we have not aimed to become, lest we get trapped by good things which keep us from the best things.
I think of the time Jesus sent his disciples, people who cared about him, people he entrusted with the mission of your love. I think of that time when he sent them out and cautioned them not to take too much with them. Yes, the directions were for a short-term mission, but in some ways there is a timeless sense to it. Elaborate equipment is not needed. What is needed is to get the mission accomplished. I guess that is how we should approach all of life.
Jesus told the disciples they didn’t need a bag to carry all sorts of provisions. He also indicated they should not waste precious time on any persons who would not receive their message; rather, they should go on to others who would receive their good news. As I think about Jesus’ directions to those early followers, I can’t help thinking that they are instructions for me as well, Lord. Have I taken too much on my journey? Have I taken enough – enough of the right things?
First, have I taken too much? Sometimes I think even the log cabin home we built from a kit is too much. I sure have to do some sorting out. I have to discover what has been crucial in forming me and has become part of me and what I need to take into the future. (thoughts from Richard L Cookson)
How easily we are bound by possessions; we become their slaves – I guess we become their slaves if they do not serve our purposes. Each thing we acquire must be carefully chosen. I suppose the best things are those which are multipurpose. The test seems to be, Lord, will this object or idea serve both you and us in the future? I remember when I was a kid, I spent large blocks of time playing games. But if that is what I do when I’m grown up, that would be inappropriate. Yet, as games can serve healthy relationships, there is a place for them. It seems that good balance means I’ve got to test regularly the situation – whether the things I am doing and the things I am acquiring serve both you and me. I must be sure the things I am acquiring are not weights which keep me from traveling my journey to the fullest.
How fitting here to find out that the word “impediment” once meant baggage. Going on a trip, just enough baggage is what is needed. Too much becomes a burden just as not enough becomes a burden. In our land of plenty, I’m pretty sure how I am most likely out of balance: too much baggage, too many impediments. Lord, help me to let go of more and more that I might more and more fulfill the purpose of a child of God in this life. As years go quickly by, it dawns on me how much we must leave behind. I see now the sooner we get rid of the excess and the unnecessary, the more fit we are for you to work thru us.
Lord, each week I take the garbage and recycling to the dump – the remains of yesterday’s life. What if I piled it up outside my house and I looked to see what of my purchases were needed and what was a side track – would I be ashamed? Have I made any progress with things?
The garbage people take our clutter of used things, but what of our clutter of hurts? Do we nurse them, keep them, or are we willing to also give them up to you as unnecessary burdens? It’s so hard to discard feelings and assumptions we learned as kids, but we know that in your sight there are many ideas which are inappropriate for a child of God. Surely. no child of God should believe that some people are inferior, that because of a common heritage all persons in a group cannot be trusted, that the way we were brought up is the right way and your best way.
Lord, help me see if I’ve been carrying too much, and what is appropriate to sell or discard or give away. And on this journey of life, secondly, I have to ask, “Have I taken enough of the right things?”
Even from you Lord, have I taken the right things? When I first really met you, you said, “Come unto me..” And I did that. I found strength. I found peace. I found hope and meaning in life. And you said “Go!” Surely, a fulfilled life needs both actions: to come to you and to go in your behalf. Have I just read your teachings or have I taken them as guidance and supply for my journey thru life?
Do I hear you when you say “don’t set you heart on those riches where moth and rust corrode and thieves can steal?” Some things we treasure because they give us power or they help us shine in competition over another or because of the exclusiveness of the item – “Only I have it.” Some things we hang onto because they remind us of a relationship.
I see Lord, that all that you created is good, but the value for me is how I use things. I see, too, that my investments ought to be in things that are lasting – – the things that abide, such as faith and hope and love in these relationships. If we have a house, let us use it for what counts and not just for cleaning it and for storing store stuff.
I see you want us to travel light so we might give undivided mind and effort to our mission in life. Let me not wait for the perfect equipment to be on hand lest I lose my way dabbling in incidentals and acquiring a permanent preoccupation with secondary things keeping me from traveling swiftly to urgent tasks.
Lord, when I remember the early disciples, I truly have reason for hope and encouragement.. For them and for us, wherever our life journey takes us, we have the assurance that you are available to us. As with the early disciples so with us; you have given us a technique for defeat: We should move on if we seem defeated in any venture of faith, for we have not been required to be successful, only to be obedient to your call.
My mission is not a solitary journey. I travel with companions of compassion. Those early disciples didn’t need much because they could rely on the hospitality of others of the faith community for food and shelter and basic needs. Truly, this life is a journey of faith. Will I be there when others of the community need aid? Will the community of faith come thru when I need it? The disciples were willing to make those risks; help me to do so Lord. Isn’t that part of what faith means?
I really don’t know what to do next, but thinking these thoughts and with your aid, my forth-coming decisions will prod me away from accumulating things and away from accumulating hurt feelings. With your aid Lord, my forth-coming decisions will prod me towards living for right and warm relationships.
Maybe, I won’t travel light as did St. Paul the missionary or like the early preachers who went West with the pioneers, but as for me, I know I have to travel lighter than I am traveling now. So help me Lord. Help us Lord. Amen.