You hear from me each Sunday preaching mostly about Christ's calling us to love as God loves us with everyone we encounter. I am struck continuously how all that we do must be rooted in love. I have also found that when trying to live in this path that Christ calls us to in love that I am restless; restless trying to understand and be true to what that love truly means. This week's Monday message from Fr. Jay Sidebotham has helped me to put into perspective this juxtaposition of love and restlessness. I have included a portion of Jay's message below. Please take the time to absorb his thoughts.
In a workshop I led, I confessed that my latest favorite book of the Bible is the letter to the Ephesians. It paints a vision of church as miracle, God's work of grace, as opportunity for the love of God to shine in the world. Is that your impression of your local church? If not, we can dream, can't we?
In the third chapter of Ephesians, there's a beautiful prayer for the church. I am particularly interested in the way it speaks of the hope that the community can be rooted and grounded in love. That is the way that the community will grow, and live into its God-given restlessness. What might it mean to be so rooted and grounded in love? It has everything to do with Jesus.
It means first that all we are, all we do, all the fruit we bear, all the shade we offer wearied travelers, all the hospitality we offer to the birds of the air, finds grace at the base. Mr. Shyness, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry tells us that if it isn't about love, it isn't about God. We find our foundation in the love of God from which we can never be separated, love that knows no limit, love that meets us where we are, love that reaches out with intention to those most hurt by life, love with the power to transform, love that frees us from having to prove ourselves (Hallelujah!). We've got that love. Nothing can take it away. So I'm wondering: How can I put my roots down deeper into that well of love? How might you do that today?
It also means that as we know that love, we are called to show that love. It's the kind of tree we are. Jim Forbes told us in seminary that we need to focus on the fruits as well as the roots, to see what fruits of the spirit emerge from rootedness in love. (See verse about fruits of the Spirit in the column on the left.) Those fruits emerge naturally, effortlessly out of the strength drawn from roots, out of our identity as beloved children of God.
All of which makes me ask a question I often ask parishioners: What is nourishing you these days? What sources of strength can you draw on, can you rely on in your life? Where are you rooted? Various kinds of rootedness can sustain for a while, but I don't know that they go the distance. For me, the hope for my own spiritual journey, and the hope for our communities of faith, is to be rooted in Jesus, by which we mean rooted in grace and compassion and forgiveness, following his teaching of loving kindness, recognizing how those gifts have come to us and sharing them wherever we can.
The prayer from the third chapter of Ephesians
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.