O my soul, created to enjoy such exquisite gifts, what are you doing? Where is your life going?
~ John of the Cross
Tomorrow is Independence Day in the United States. We all know that story, so I’m not going to comment on it. But one of the scripture lessons appointed for this day is interesting. Jesus is speaking, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” ~ Matthew 5:43-48
How do we be perfect as our Father is perfect? What does that mean in this context? Jesus commands us to pray for, bless, and abstain from cursing our enemies, etc., but how did Jesus treat his enemies? As Jesus’ apprentices, we need to do likewise. Jesus seldom responded with violence. He healed his enemies (Ex. the Samaritan woman, he prayed for them, and he asked his Father to forgive them (from the cross) after being mocked, beaten, and spit on. Read these stories, and others, because I want us to think on these things as we remember our freedom and as we look at situations in our country and in the world. We want to be perfect as our Father is perfect.
I really had planned to meditate on gratitude, and I think it ties in with this lesson for the Fourth of July, so you get two meditations for the price of one. In 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18 we read, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Reading this whole chapter makes a good meditation. How, in all circumstances, do we give thanks? How, when the world and our country sometimes appear to be going to “you know where” in a “you know what”? And why should we? Because God will work it out and, ultimately, God wins, so we just do. It’s God’s will for us.
Some of us keep a gratitude journal. This exercise, done regularly, can pull us out of anger, out of fear, out of darkness, out of depression, and out of dryness. It can help us notice God’s working and winning in our world. In our journal, we list those things for which we are thankful every day. Tonight, before we go to sleep, let’s list ten (10) things for which we are grateful. Don’t use the obvious, family, home, food, etc., until we list ten others. Noticing the obvious gets us off the hook. After the ten, we can note the things that are always on our list. It’s a grateful thing to do.
Today I am writing: My freedom, freedom to worship, my soul friends, my knee replacements, a job I love, a loving community, dandelions, bees, surprising new flowers in the yard, dinner with friends, and a bonus, “Ultimately, God wins.” Now, the obvious—my husband, my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, Mom, brothers, sisters, extended family, my home, sunshine, blue sky, etc. Thank you, God. I am so grateful.
Be blessed and stay safe on this Independence Day, dear ones. God loves you.