Today's readings could be distracting. I could fret over the Epistle's message that God brings strangers together (Jews and non-Jews in Ephesus) "thus making peace," and go on to worry about this month's news of conflict and crisis in the Middle East. Or I could be distracted by differing translations of the Gospel of Luke that give us in today's short passage "Blessed are those servants" in one translation, "Blessed are those slaves" in another. While slavery in the first century Mediterranean world is remote, perhaps we should be aware that slavery still exists in several parts of our world today. A radio advertisement for a TV news service says that to be ready for whatever happens, we need to watch news reports -- we need to be aware, then, of injustice, conflict and crisis. Stay alert!
Distraction from prayer? The Epistle tells us we have it made; through Christ, we are one body, "members of the household of God," part of the structure, built together to be -- together -- "a dwelling place for God." But the Gospel's verses tell us to stay awake -- be dressed, keep our lamps lit, be alert, be ready!
Our lives are full already with the need to be aware of events and conflicts, stay awake, drive carefully, send in that form by the deadline, order next spring's textbooks, plan for Thanksgiving, do your Christmas shopping early, and remember to vote! And in this same blessed Gospel, just a few verses earlier, Jesus talks about those fortunate lilies of the field who neither toil nor spin. I've always rather wished to be a lily of the field; they certainly don't need voice mail and personal calendars and planners and alarm clocks! So why do we get this nagging to be ready, stay awake, the Master MAY be coming "in the middle of the night, or near dawn?"
Yet in his own blessed time in the uncertainties of my lifetime, the Master comes, knocks at the door, wants me to be alert, with my heart's lamp lit for him. That doesn't mean, I trust, one can't "veg out" or take a vacation. Maybe a vacation from slavery to the TV, events, chores, the job, the need to do it all, distractions, even pleasures, allows us to look up, look ahead. If we can just look ahead, we can try to be ready EACH DAY. Anyway I have to try again -- each day -- to be somewhat ready, open again to the Master's coming. And when he comes -- surprise! he takes care of his slaves (servants)! Blessed are we!
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