I’m technically back from my holidays, and I’ll have to admit that this whole taking holidays when mostly working from home anyway might take some getting used to. I saw a tweet the other day (and I wish I could remember who it was from so I could give them proper credit) that said something like, “let’s stop calling it ‘working from home’ and just call it as it is: ‘living at work’.” And I guess I can totally relate to that now.
The thing is, throughout society and for as long as I can remember, “work” has been equated with “bad”. That somehow having a job and having to going to work are the worst parts of life, and our goal is always to find a way to get to a point where we don’t have to work anymore. “Freedom 55” has been drilled into our heads as the ultimate marker of success and happiness, the ultimate in living life to the fullest.
I guess the irony I see in that is that while having a job might be tedious and difficult, it doesn’t have to be that way. Work can be fulfilling and life giving, if you are able to find those parts of your job that do that for you. Knowing that you’re contributing to society in whatever way that is, seeing yourself as an integral part of this machine of our city of many parts working together, and understanding that just because having a job is often necessary, doesn’t mean that it has to be stifling and constricting.
Instead, if we hold onto those parts of our jobs, our daily lives, and even our tiring relationships that are actually life-giving, then perhaps things would start to look better to us, and life could be more fulfilling and joyful. I guess what I’m saying is that if we write “work” as something that is bad, then it would be hard to find any kind of joy, any kind of fulfillment, or any kind of freedom to produce worship videos even when on holidays!
Anyway, here are the readings for next week, the 7th Sunday after Pentecost:
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Right off the bat, we interpret Jesus’ parable to be drawing the lines between good and bad people, and instructing us to not hate on those we perceive to be on the other side of that line, as we could be gravely mistaken as it isn’t even up to us who is where. Instead, we can let God be the judge of who is on which side of said line.. This isn’t a bad interpretation, in fact it seems to be the one that Jesus himself gives. But I wonder instead of seeing and recognising the lines that are drawn between people, we look at the lines within ourselves, separating what we think should be a part of us or not.
What I mean is that I wonder how often we look at aspects of our lives, we look at some of our tendencies, our habits, or really embarrassing mistakes of the past, and we try to shun them, deny them, or bottle them up in hopes that we’ll be a better person. We decide what parts of us are worthy and what parts of us are holding us back. We determine what part of us is life giving, and what is taking life away.
And while there is no doubt that we all have flaws and miss that mark of perfection by a great margin, I think the message of the gospel is that the guilt that comes from that is washed away. When we think of where we are weak, when we focus on the lines between the parts of us that we like and the parts that we don’t like so much, we have a guilt that creeps in and tells us that we aren’t good enough, we don’t work hard enough, or we’re just not enough.
But I heard Jesus telling us that we needn’t feel that guilt. We needn’t be ashamed. We needn’t feel like we are not worthy, not enough, not loved, because God has deemed us worthy. Every part of us, every aspect, every flaw. Worthy. For it is while we were sinners that we are so loved and saved. God didn’t wait for us to clean us our act. God didn’t write us off because we aren’t perfect. God didn’t draw a line that pushed us out into the margins. Rather God openly invites. God openly welcomes. God openly loves.
Because God accepts us just as we are, so can we accept ourselves just as we are. Know that we are all created as God’s beloved children, and while we aren’t perfect, we are loved, redeemed, and saved that we might live lives free of guilt and shame and have the freedom to be God’s hands and feet in the world!
Thanks be to God! Have a great week, everyone!