Monday, October 6th
for Sunday, October 12th, 18th Sunday after Pentecost
READ: Psalm 106.1-6, 19-23 “stood in the breach”
REFLECT: Not too long ago, it was trendy to talk about “standing in the gap.” You heard about it everywhere. It was a call to action — you be the one. Stop waiting for someone else to do it. The problem with these kinds of proverbial admonitions is that they don’t apply to all people at all times. One must exercise a degree of discernment, be in touch with one’s own heart and mind. Another such phrase is to “step out of your comfort zone.” Again, a good challenge for some, but not for others. Let me explain:
In one person, these can be empowering and encouraging maxims. Such a person might be on the cusp of a spiritual growth spurt, ready to exercise some agency and leadership, waiting for an invitation to participate. But in another person, the exhortation to do more can be harmful, destructive, even. This is the person already stretched too far, the person who has faithfully been holding programs, institutions and relationships together. To tell this person to get out of their comfort zone misses the point.
As I continued reading and mulling over the word “breach”, Donna Kate Rushin’s “The Bridge Poem” came to mind. If you’ve never read this poem, you can find it with a simple internet search. It is a poignant example of the unjust, unrealistic expectations of asking someone else to “stand in the breach” or to be the bridge. And it is a beautiful example of someone saying “enough” and setting some much needed boundaries.
Sometimes we’re holding things together that are sick or dysfunctional. In such cases it is better to get out of the gap and let that sickness come to light. It may be that the time for that thing — that institution, that movement, that event — has passed. It may be time for others to stand in the breach, but they can’t get in there if you’re standing in the way.
RESPOND: Lord, help us to be humble and get out of the way, to be discerning about how we rely on others, and to be courageous when it’s time for us to step up.
Think about the people in your life at work, at home, at church, at school. Is there a person who stands out to you as being overstretched? Is there something you can do, no matter how small, that can alleviate their burden? Are you the one who could use some help? What small thing can you relinquish to someone who may be waiting for an opportunity? Standing “in the breach” does not have to be something that changes the course of history, but it can provide real relief and space to breathe.
LECTIONARY TEXTS FOR THE UPCOMING SUNDAY (and for you to try on your own):
Lectio Divina Paci is a weekly devotional guide by Audrey Hindes 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.