Worship At Home
Small Group Reflection of 08-02-20
In these days of social distancing we have endeavored to provide a Corpus Christi online worship experience. The Worship At Home web page has been our attempt to provide that. One of the ways our community has used this resource has been to gather virtually in real time using video conferencing software like FaceTime, Skype, Messenger, and Zoom. In an effort to hold onto our deep liturgical roots, one virtual group has gone to the point of having rotating presiders, lectors, and even homilists. The reflections provided by the members of this group have often been very inspiring. In an effort to share these reflections with the larger community several of them have been collected and published here on the CC website.
Reflection from 08-02-20, provided by Linc Stine.
Sunday, August 2, 2020 House Church Reflection
Today, I want to reflect on the Gospel reading. It is a familiar one about how Jesus and the disciples fed 5000 or more people from five loaves and two fish.
I rarely remember the beginning of this particular reading of this familiar account from Matthew’s Gospel. It begins with Jesus finding learning that John the Baptist had been beheaded. We know, of course, that Jesus and John knew each other, in fact, according to the Gospel accounts they were relatives. In addition, we know that Jesus came to John for baptism. They were both in ministry and shared a common set of values and beliefs.
When Jesus hears that John was murdered, he wanted to get away and be by himself. That seems entirely normal, doesn’t it? Have you ever learned something shocking, surprising and tragic and just needed some time to yourself – to reflect? To pray? To collect yourself? Events like this deeply disturb and we need the time to think. I know I’ve often said or felt, “I just need some time for myself – to think.” I think this is what happened to Jesus, and so he went out in a boat to have time for himself.
The reading goes on to say that the people in the area followed Jesus as he withdrew from them in a boat of the Sea of Galilee. While on the boat, Jesus could escape the crowds. According to the geographers, the area where the people gathered was a hillside overlooking the water – they could see Jesus and Jesus could see them. When Jesus sees them, the Scripture says, “his heart was moved with pity for them and he cured their sick.”
Have you ever sought more alone time? During the virus lockdown and the subsequent distancing guidelines, perhaps you’ve had more than enough “me time.” Consider that perhaps our alone time helped us to see things, kind of like how Jesus could see the crowd and their needs while he got away in the boat. Perhaps our alone time sharpened my ability to see the needs around me.
Does seeing the needs of others move me? We know that seeing the needs in others moved Jesus’ heart.
One more observation about the Gospel today before I move on. The king, the authority of the land, murdered John the Baptist.
When George Floyd was murdered by the authorities, one of my first thoughts was for our neighbors, Anthony, Heidi and DeAndre. For context, here’s a little about them – Anthony is black, grew up in North Carolina and works a correctional officer at a prison facility. Heidi is white, grew up in Wisconsin and works professionally. Obviously, they are a mixed race couple, and DeAndre is their 3-year-old son, just a month older than our grandson, Russell.
In the days following the George Floyd murder, I was overrun by thoughts and emotions:
– How does Anthony feel as an officer of the law reacting to what he saw about George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers?
– How do Heidi and Anthony feel about protecting, sheltering DeAndre?
– They will surely need to have “the talk” with DeAndre – when and how will they do that?
At that moment, I realized that I never had to have “the talk” with my sons. That was one of my epiphanies about my privilege – my white privilege.
I sent a text message to Anthony and we exchanged messages about our reactions to the murder. Soon after, DeAndre was playing on our swing set on a day we were watching Malcolm and Heidi was there, so we talked about all of this. It was an emotional conversation as we talked about the reality facing Heidi, Anthony and DeAndre – having the talk, facing racial injustice, and the like.
These interactions moved me to tears. Maybe that’s how Jesus felt when he encountered people in need – in need of healing like the people in today’s Gospel, in need of comfort like when Lazarus died, or in need of forgiveness like the woman caught in adultery. We also read in the Gospels that Jesus felt anger, frustration, compassion and other emotions that drove him to speak up or act. Jesus acted on his emotions and that is an example for us all.
In the home where I grew up, we never discussed our emotions – they were never addressed in words. Think about your home and how emotions were handled and how are emotions handled now. Do your emotions drive you to action? I have struggled to express my emotions in words; expressing emotions like anger, hurt and some others is still challenging.
Emotions can get in the way of taking action for me. They can overwhelm my mind and produce fear, sometimes paralyzing me from taking action. I wrestle with indecision and am prone to procrastinating when I am fearful – especially when I am afraid of others’ reactions.
I think Jesus was speaking directly to me whenever I hear him say, “Fear not,” or “Don’t be afraid.”
The call to action as part of our faith is clear, especially Jesus’ call to “Love God, and love your neighbor” in Matthew chapter 22. He was referring to acting in love, not only thinking in love or feeling that love.
The Apostle John says, “Let us stop saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.” (1 John 3:18) He goes on to say that God is greater than our emotions and knows everything.
Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come to help us (in John chapters 15 and 16). Thanks be to God, that Jesus understands my fears and gives the Holy Spirit to strengthen my mind, so I can overcome fear and so I can act! The Holy Spirit is my helper when I wrestle with fear or procrastination.
This year has been an emotion-filled year, hasn’t it? Fear, uncertainty, anger, confusion, are just a few of the emotions that I have experienced. I am sure we each could make our own LONG list, and the year isn’t even over!
Following the example from today’s Gospel, I pray this emotion-filled year will move us to act in love for our neighbors.