Dear Christ Church Family,
With the increasingly hotter weather approaching, it’s hard not to think thoughts of summertime and getaways. Whether it will be possible to do all that we’d like, or even part of what we’d like, given the current health requirements and social conditions, there is one journey that we can all still make this summer: indeed it is the journey of life for life.
Wednesday, May 27, 2020 RCL Daily Office Readings, Year 2
Ah, vacation. Even with all the sequestering due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the very thought of that word can conjure up images of relaxing days on the beach, camping in the mountains, and heading out for fun destinations. For many of us Baby Boomers, raised in the fifties and sixties, it can also reprise memories of being crammed into the family car and enduring long, hot, un-air-conditioned and contentious rides to some popular destination, stopping at points along the way to see, say, the world famous Underground Gardens (“As seen on TV’s You Asked For It.” Boy, am I dating myself now! Just Google it!), or Oregon’s Thunderbeast Park, or the world’s largest ball of string and the like on Route 66. For many of us, our earliest ideas of a “group vacation” meant fighting with siblings over who owned the back seat. Despite, or maybe still because of, such memories, it’s hard not to associate vacations with group journeys, even in this time of social distancing.
Our Epistle lesson from Ephesians today describes the nature of a kind of group journey that we are all called to take together. Here, Paul points out one particular quality among others that really speaks to this spiritual life journey.
It’s this: our group journey is relational. Our spiritual life journey is centered in a relationship, a particular relationship with Jesus. In verses 4 through 6, Paul rattles off a litany of creedal elements that point us to that relationship: that we are one body of believers, with one Spirit, united in one hope, by one Lord, in one faith, through one baptism, under one God.
Our journeying as a church centers our life and journey upon the one relationship we share in Jesus. When we focus on our common bond with him, we can respond to his call to follow together. Our journey of faith is not just an individual spiritual quest; it’s also a group travel experience where we help each other to join in the adventure more fully. Our journey is communal, and relational.
Now every good journey should have a destination. So, what is our destination on this trip? It’s worth noting that there’s no mention here of Heaven as the ultimate vacation venue. You see, Heaven is our destination for the life to come; not our life now. Once this journey is complete, and we are gathered into the loving arms of our savior, and we are bid welcome home, then Heaven will be our goal fulfilled. But this quest we are on now has its own destination. That destination is spelled out in verse 13: to become like Jesus, here and now. It is in the very act of helping each other grow our gifts that we not only strengthen each other, but each of us grows to become more and more like Jesus in his love. That is the goal, the quest, the destination of our group journey of the Spirit in this life.
Let me change the journeying/vacation metaphor just a little. There is another outcome to this spiritual quest of becoming like Jesus. I was at USC’s (Southern California) School of Music one summer, when I got to know the resident piano tuner. His is a full-time job just keeping the vast number of pianos tuned and in good repair. The amazing thing is that, at any time, any two or more pianos can be brought together from any place in the Music School, from any mix of buildings, and they will all perform perfectly in tune with each other. The secret, the tuner told me, is not some amazing computer tuning machine, but his own ear and the tuning fork he carries with him to tune every piano in the school. Each piano, all tuned by the same ear, to the same fork, are all automatically tuned to each other. That’s what happens to us singly: we become ever more in tune with Jesus. But then, as a group, we become ever more in tune with each other; each one’s heart tuned by the same ear, to the same fork.
This quest to be like Jesus pushes us outward, inviting us to share our gifts and engage in the great adventure of serving God. Journey toward Jesus. He is our destination, and he is our companion and guide on the way. That is an awesome group journey.