|1 Corinthians 5:1-8
Psalm 5:5-6, 7, 12
For fifty and more students of Creighton University, Labor Day Weekend – now more than a week beyond us – was packed with activities and adventure almost akin with the best of Harrison Ford’s portrayal of Indiana Jones. “Fall Adventure Retreat ’02” left campus early in the weekend, full of anticipation, for a chartered race for the Rockies in a quest not for lost arks or holy grails, but for God. At Creighton we go right to the boss! And word had it that God was on the edge. Our primary task, then: finding God!
The university’s Adventure Retreat is five years in the running. The Fall version provides participants with experiences well beyond the comfort zones of daily living. Camping in tents without the amenities of plumbing and electricity through the weekend, hiking mountain-side trails, rappelling cliff-faces, white-water-rafting the rapids of the Colorado River structure the few days of the weekend with a full spectrum of challenging experiences that, indeed, invite physical exertion and will power of the rawest kind! And better yet, student veterans of the program bring with them to the mountains reflections and stories that are offered as talks for small group discussion and sharing about, ultimately, being in relationship with God. So there, too, in the great realm of the spiritual, students step beyond their comfort zones to better understand that relationship and, in many ways, let it become a deeper reality in their lives.
So St. Paul’s not so cheerful for us today. In fact, he’s pretty mad. Some of his friends in Corinth have made some pretty awful decisions which haven’t reflected good moral standing. There’s some anger and confusion in the Gospel, moreover! Jesus is up to his tricks again, but now on the Sabbath, and the religious authority won’t have anything to do with it nor his disregard for Sabbath observation.
But they’re helpful for us. Both Paul and Luke expose, in many
ways, what the Creighton students wrestled with recently: the struggles
of reaching beyond our comfort zones, of taking risks, of following the
best of our instincts. The students would well admit that Fall Adventure
Retreat ’02, as fun and beautiful as it was – full of friendships old and
new in the midst of God’s great star-spangled and mountain-peaked creation
– was also exhaustive and demanding. And yet they thrived,
giving testament to feeling alive and full of grace which unfolded through
the weekend and beyond with bold gestures of fellowship both peer-related
and spiritual. They returned to campus with new perspectives about
their lives. The hikes were steep and the rapids were rough.
But with guides and equipment – and best of all, the support of friendship
– they navigated through the challenges and thereby encountered grace.
It’s that grace which continues to radiate through their young lives.
And this is part of Paul’s message today: be fresh and alive and with new
perspective about the Christian life and relationship with God. In
his own way Paul too seems to say, “Friends, go beyond your comfort zones.”
And that is precisely what Jesus does by taking the risk to extend healing
powers on the Sabbath. For sure, the scribes and Pharisees are uncomfortable
and Jesus well knows that he is beyond convention and status quo.
But discomfort with goodness and fear of norms aren’t becoming for us today.
The invitation is otherwise. And by following that invitation, stepping
beyond our comfort zones toward deeper understandings of ourselves and
God, we too – at home, at the office, on campus, in our daily lives – can
extend the same healing powers of Jesus.
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