Monday, November 10, 2014
for Sunday, November 16th, 23rd Sunday after Pentecost
READ: Matthew 25.14-30 “enter into… joy”
REFLECT: On my first reading of this passage, I noticed “enter into… joy”. How hard it would be, under such a harsh master, to ever find joy. As I continued to read, I asked myself: what prevents me from entering into joy? My self’s answer: fear.
As an emotion, fear protects us by warning us of danger — whether physical, mental or emotional. It is intended to serve us. But when fear becomes the master, we have a problem. And fear is a harsh master. Fear reaps where it does not sow. Fear gathers where it does not scatter seed. God is not the master in this parable. God does not operate or relate on the basis of fear.
A good friend of mine has a practice for dealing with feelings that have become the master using mental imagery. It was as much her manner of telling me about it as the exercise itself that has since made it just as effective for me. She imagines the feeling as a prickly ball. Sometimes we get attached to these prickly balls and hold onto them for dear life, shouting “ouch! that hurts!” all the while. Sometimes others lob their prickly balls at us, but we don’t have to catch them and make them our own. This reminds me of my own practice of the Welcoming Prayer — focusing, feeling and sinking into the feeling, welcoming it, and letting it go.
Since learning my friend’s prickly ball strategy, I have found that part of what makes it effective for me is remembering the way we laughed together as she acted out hugging, setting down, batting away and dodging the prickly balls in her life. It’s like the movie “Monsters, Inc.” and the realization that laughter — or joy — is more powerful than fear. The question is, when we are living in fear and being controlled by it, how do we choose instead to enter into joy?
RESPOND: God, we know that we can only have one master in life, whether it is fear or something else. Help us to recognize when anything but you has taken control. Give us the courage to ask for help from others when we need it, and to extend help to others in their need.
Think of an area of your life where fear may be causing you to avoid something or someone. Take some time to really examine your fear. Is the emotion serving as a warning to you, or is it limiting your freedom and ability to live life fully? Talk to someone you trust about developing a strategy for working through particular fears. Start small as you build courage to face new challenges.
LECTIONARY TEXTS FOR THE UPCOMING SUNDAY (and for you to try on your own):
1 Thessalonians 5.1-11
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.