Friday, April 09, 2004

What Do You Want?

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then he said to the disciple, "here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
- John 19:26, 27
What do you want?

I think that is an important question to ask ourselves every time we make any decision. So often, our decisions are fueled and informed by many, many factors. I think it is critical that we look deep within ourselves, and discover what is driving us towards one option or another.

If we don’t do this, we may very well find ourselves be tossed around like a leaf in the wind…responding to life, rather than engaging in it.

What do you want?

Even if we do honestly ask ourselves this question, our answer may prove to be less than ideal.

I helped raise 4 children. With such a big family, my home was usually absolute chaos. In one corner a war over crayons is erupting, in another is a wrestling match with the dog, and in another is the baby demanding to be changed NOW! What did I want? A little peace and quiet.

Now all my children are grown and gone. My days are quite peaceful. And now I miss all that chaos. What I thought I wanted, peace, wasn’t what I wanted after all.

What do you want?

For many years, I was the rector of a small parish in California. After about six years, I became quite frustrated. I felt my gifts weren't being used. The routine of doing the same things with the same people every year felt stifling. What I wanted was a new, specialized ministry.

For a few years now, I’ve been doing interim ministry; going into congregations and helping them prepare for the calling of a new spiritual leader. I am usually with a church for about a year before I move on. Now, I miss the close friendships and support that comes with working in a church over the long term. What I thought I wanted wasn’t “it” after all.

What do you want?

Sometimes, it seems as if we know that something is not quite right in our lives; and so we try to fix it; we try to fill that hunger for the illusive “something more.” What often happens is we end up living for some future destination. We are just one more promotion, one more new car, one more dream home, away from nirvana. When some of these dreams become concrete realities, we are surprised to find they don’t satisfy our deep, unnamed longing. Something seems missing, or maybe broken inside, and we just can’t fix it.

What do you want?

For me, some peace instead of kid created chaos seemed close to what I wanted. Then, when I got that, my heart longed to have my children back. I thought I wanted a lively ministry that recognized my gifts, but when I got that, I longed for the ties that come with community.

Jesus looked down from the cross, and saw two people he deeply loved. He didn’t have the luxury of time to help them discover for themselves what was the desire of their hearts. He knew what it was they longed for, and he addressed their need;

“Woman, here is your son…here is your mother.”

Jesus cut through all the mixed messages. What Mary and John wanted in their heart of hearts, what each of us really want, is to love, and to be loved.

Margaret Guenther, in her book, The Practice of Prayer, describes it this way;

Jesus words to his mother Mary and the beloved disciple spoken from the cross, are about the creation of a new family, one that transcends biology. At first glance, it would seem that Jesus is commending his mother to the disciples care; she is stricken and needs someone to look after her. Yet, if we look at the picture more closely, we see a relationship of deep mutuality. Mary will bring to it the richness of her years, after a life of joy and sorrow. She knows what it means to put herself aside and to carry God in her heart. She knows the deep grief of any parent; to watch helplessly as her child suffers and dies. The beloved disciple has the energy and strength of youth, bringing freshness, vision and openness to risk. Man and woman, younger and older they complete and compliment each other. They do not share the history of ordinary families, which are often fraught with hurt and resentment; rather, they share the history of their love for Jesus and that has brought them together.

This is a family story, but more broadly it is about the creation of new community, based on love of God. Like Mary and the beloved disciple, we are given to each other and charged to care for and love one another. Our love affair with God is THE eternal triangle, for it is not possible to love God alone. We are commended to the other family members. After all, when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we are reminded that we are not alone or solitary, but brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters to one another.
A community based on the love of God. One way of understanding the Trinity is to see the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as being a community of love. The Lover (Father) loves the Beloved (Son). Before the creative act, a constant Flow of Love (Holy Spirit) bound them together. The Beloved came to dwell among us, and offered us access to this same Flow of Love. When we stand in the place of Jesus, we become what we have always been intended to be; the adopted sons and daughters of God; the Beloved of God. We become members of the household of God, that same eternal community, and participate in the constant flow of love given and love received.

What do you want?

To love and to be loved.

Let us recognize who we are called to be; the Beloved of God, and allow God's love to flow through us into the world. Let us be the healing hands of Christ in the world today.

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

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