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Eric's Sunday Sermon; A Balance of Life
And there I am getting my bliss on and someone has graffitied the rocks
A blessing in disguise
Good day to you. We hope this sermon finds you rested or resting and at peace and at war. How strange it may seem to you that we greet with hopes of finding you at war. And how out of the ordinary that we wish you rest, peace and war all in the same line. Perhaps by some reflection we can come to discover that these concepts are not mutually exclusive and actually have some sense in them together.
When we are at war one of the things that we need and covet the most is peace and another one is rest. For obvious reasons it is very hard to find both peace and rest in war. A well trained combat soldier teaches himself to get rest whenever there is a chance at it. One never knows when the next chance may come. Certainly the warrior while intense and excited in battle hopes and prays for peace and to live another day. Perhaps we are wise to consider that when we are at one extreme or another we hope for the opposite. It is a hard notion to grasp but at times the warrior becomes eager to go into battle. The combatant in all of us sometimes grows tired of stale negotiations and wilted stilted speech and just wants to get the conflict over with win or lose.
How about you?
Can you imagine a time when it is right for you to go to war?
War! What is it good for?
There is a concept that flows through our human condition. That concept is conflict. Try as hard as we are able and we just cannot get rid of conflict. In so many ways we do not try to rid ourselves of it at all. Did you know that there are several all day and all night sports channels? One can literally spend all day and night watching, analyzing and participating in competition. There is the latest news about it. There are the latest statistics of winning and losing and all matters in between. There are even odds and favorites discussed and published regularly. This all comes with talking heads and amazing video segments showing the most outstanding of athletic achievement. It most assuredly could be addicting and by any stretch of the imagination it is entertaining. And did we mention it involves billions and billions of dollars?
Sports are based on competition and competition is conflict and conflict is really just war on a smaller scale. Back in the day some liked to call a massive war in a foreign land a conflict. Over 50,000 American sons and daughters lost their lives in a “conflict”. Here we try to use words for literary effect rather than political talking points. Yet there is still conflict over how to use those words just right.
So how much more so in matters of life and death and right and wrong and good and evil are we to be at war? It is so nice and comfy to avoid all matters of conflict. It is so easy and feels so right to stay within our safety zone. We are so busy and stressed out over life and all the challenges that we feel we deserve to “relax”. Let someone else fight that war. I just don’t want to deal with the negativity and I don’t have the energy to fight.
The thought of War blows my mind!
Which direction should we take?
We take time to relax.
For many of us we take a Sabbath or a day of rest every week. Sometimes we do activities that we really enjoy and invigorate ourselves. Sometimes we find ourselves trying to do nothing at all, and we succeed. Most find some place in between activity and sleep and rejuvenate in that way. We push aside the cares of the world. We concentrate on the healthy and enjoyable aspects of family and friends. Many take time to reflect and enjoy nature and still others join with likeminded worshippers and attend a gathering of prayer, song and learning. There are many that take to labors of love like caring for their home and growing the plants that are so vital to health and happiness. It is a marvelous time to connect with our animals and enjoy them. In most lives there is time set aside for feasting and appreciating our nourishment as we have not the time during the busy week. Of course there is time for snuggling and affection that is too often missed while we run the rat race of the day in and day out.
Certainly in these things there is goodness. Taking time for appreciation and things we truly enjoy is essential to our well-being and fruitfulness.
A simple waterfall.
Is something missing?
Now about that conflict and it’s necessity in life. Why would we ever wish someone to be at war? Well it is a real world out there. There is real bad stuff going on. It would be easy just to refer to a nightly “news” program to prove this point. But that would lead us into the direction of the spectacular and sensational. The bad stuff we speak of here is quiet and seemingly non-invasive. It is the small that combined with a lot of small stuff creates huge problems. It is the conflict in the choices that we as humans make. There is one place where there is always a battle going on. Within each of us there is the constant struggle between doing and not doing.
In deep reflection it hit me that I constantly throw ideas of action into my intellectual and spiritual hopper. An idea of doing something comes into my mind and I am forced into giving thought regarding doing it or not. Now over the years for many reasons and for many unknown reasons most of my thoughts about action are positive. I see a problem and my first conscious thought is to help correct it. It would seem apparent that many do not have that kind of first conscious thought. For whatever reasons, known and unknown, their first conscious thought is to exploit a problem. Their base need for survival overrides thoughts of morality and right and wrong.
Back to that intellectual hopper. I throw stuff in there and more often than not it gets consumed. I “think” about it and mull it over and analyze the “best way” and I balance out the pros and cons and I and I and I – and what comes out the other end is – inaction. I make a conscious choice not to do battle in the world. Believe me I have my reasons. And I am just smart enough to justify inaction both spiritually and morally.
Now take that fellow who is wired differently. The exploiter. The person that sees opportunity in another’s problems and moves quickly to profit from it. We see it all the time. We too often sit back and rationalize inaction while the purveyors of evil take action and begin the war without us. Perhaps we are too busy or perhaps it occurs on our “Sabbath”. Oh we might be at war in our own heads. Battling over action versus inaction. But this is not the war we speak of today. The battlefield of life is all around us. We are more than happy to jump in when it is our job and how we make a living, battling the vagaries of office life or competing against our neighbor to “get ahead”. But are we ready to be soldiers for others and to fight skirmishes for right and wrong?
A little levity about fighting. The video is most interesting.
Please don't pick me!
When writing such a piece it all boils down to a call to action. I do not want to do it as it frightens me. I do not want to do it as I then must take responsibility for it. I do not want to do it because in order to do it I must sit down and really decide what is right and wrong and stand by it. It takes energy. It takes time. And perhaps in calling others to action one must commit to action oneself. Therein lies one of the most difficult issues. If I demand a certain conduct of my brothers and sisters then I must not only live accordingly I must lead by example. But in that simple reality lies the really good news.
We do not need to confront or commit violence to march into the war. This is a much more holistic and virtuous war. This is a war where direct head to head battle seldom determines the winner of the day. This is a war of balance. With one atrocity there must be an equal amount of love. It need not at all be pointed in the specific direction of the atrocity or evil. It is as simple as ABC.
I see the man throw garbage down on the ground in the park. I not only stow my garbage I pick up ten or twenty pieces more. I see the man verbally abuse the elderly. I volunteer at a nursing home. I am yelled at and treated poorly. I speak gently and treat five more with dignity and respect. I find myself overindulging and the next day I bring food to the food bank. I make mistakes and I seize the next opportunity to make right.
Am I suggesting keeping a scorecard. No, but why not? We watch sporting events and keep score. We watch a military war and keep track of territory seized and gained. Why not hold ourselves accountable? And so it is that I wish you war. I wish for you to see the wrong all about. And I call you to action. Battle on by doing good.