Monday, September 15, 2014
for Sunday, September 21, 2014
15th Sunday after Pentecost
READ: Philippians 1.21-30 “fruitful labor”
REFLECT: I imagine we’d all like to think that our time and efforts are not spent in vain. Indeed, two people can engage in the same action — but with different motives and intentions — and one’s labor can be fruitful while another’s can be in vain.
As I prayed through this passage, two scenes emerged. Both scenes took place in a rock quarry. In the first scene, a group of chained prisoners were set to the task of breaking down boulders into gravel. Different motives fueled them. In one it was the desire to dominate the group and assert power. In another, it was the people-pleasing desire to look good to others. In a third it was the desire to achieve personal security through hard work. But no matter how hard they worked, nothing would ever be done with the gravel they produced, and there were always more boulders to break down. These various motives, unchecked and with no healthy outlet, turned inward and ate them alive.
In the second scene, a free person was also engaged in breaking down boulders. As a free person, there was meaning and purpose, agency and human freedom. These rocks were destined to build something, something greater and beyond the self.
RESPOND: God, you alone know my motives. Sometimes I can even deceive myself. Search my heart, God. Where am I acting in freedom, and where am I reacting and merely propping up my ego? Help me to look with compassion and to let go of false security, people-pleasing, and the need for control.
Think for a moment about a time when you felt frustrated in your efforts or work. Try to identify the underlying motivation. Was it the need for affection and esteem, belonging and security, or power and control? How did you feel in your body? Let that physical sensation be a signal to you that you are not acting in freedom, and to let go in surrender to God.
LECTIONARY TEXTS FOR THE UPCOMING SUNDAY (and for you to try on your own):
Lectio Divina Paci is a weekly devotional guide for peacemakers in the lectio divina form. Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scripture reading, prayer, meditation, and reflection that treats scripture as the Living Word. Lectio Divina Paci is an opportunity for peacemakers to become more in tune with the voice of the Prince of Peace.