Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God's righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act-they will be blessed in their doing.
If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
- · Song of Solomon 2:8-13
- · Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
One of the Sunday school teachers came to the pastor one day and said, Pastor do you know what your son told us today in the Sunday school? And of course you can imagine the thought process of a pastor. Oh, my… here we go with another embarrassing moment. But then he said, ok. Tell me. The teacher continued. She told the children how Adam and Eve was made and on and on.
Pastor’s son then asked, “you mean I am made of dirt?”
She said, Yes.
Pastor’s son responded, “hmm… my mom is not going to be happy about that”.
This is where I want to begin today. We are all made of dirt and therefore the potential to bring forth all that is beautiful and alive is so great in us. Why? Because when there is good dirt it can produce more.
The spring time gets its meaning from the flowers that spring up and the fruits that are brought forth in the dirt that is fertile and ready. Spring time is pleasant to the eyes and the heart because it is all about life and all its colors sprung forth from the ground below.
A little dirt is good for your health is what doctors would say and a knowledge of it is even better so that we are not paranoid about the dirt we all carry or made out of. It keeps us on the grounded in reality rather than above ground. What lifts us up are actions here below.
“Magic mirror, magic mirror who is the fairest one of all: the queen of the land or the Snow White?” Of course it is Snow White, the one who cooks for the dwarfs, the one who plays with the creatures of the world, the one who cares for the least and the lost and the one who is innocent and pure.
We are little wingless birds hopping on the ground without the actions of faith. When we begin to act on our faith then we will grow wings to fly into the heavens and hover over the rest of the world. Faith in action is the wing that takes us to eternity. Hoping on the dirty ground with actions of love and compassion will grow us our wings to fly away. Some churches and individuals have claimed a song to be their personal property. I want to claim that for myself and you know it.
Some bright morning when this life is over I'll fly away
To that home on God's celestial shore I'll fly away
I'll fly away oh glory I'll fly away (in the morning)
When I die hallelujah by and by I'll fly away
What gives us power to fly around and away are actions of faith pre-redeemed by Christ. But it has to happen here and now. What makes spring time of spiritual life is the knowledge of the dirt we are made of and the possibility of the dirt we are made of to bring forth life and all its colors. None of us will fly away alone. None of us will fly away without those we care for. Some bright morning we will fly away with a few more people in our hearts.
According to the wisdom of Blessed Mother Theresa “Keep in mind that our community is not composed of those who are already saints, but of those who are trying to become saints. Therefore let us be extremely patient with each other's faults and failures.” We are made up of human elements of failures. But what we are blessed with human capacity to bring about life from it.
Spring time of Spiritual Life is when we absorb God’s words like the earth that absorbs all the water that is poured on to her. This is what James is talking about, “Let everyone be quick to listen” quick to absorb, listen carefully and allow life to germinate and regenerate slowly. It produces patience in the midst of needing to establish our point of view and our ideas about life. It stops our anger from getting beyond ourselves. It slows us down so that God can be the righteous judge and our merciful father.
Twelve years ago around this time there were two significant deaths in this world. Both of them were known for their acts of faith, one from a place of splendor and honor and the other from a place of humility and simplicity. Nevertheless both grew wings by their life, to fly away in the midst of the dirt they lived in and was made of, Princes Diana and Mother Theresa.
Today therefore when we reflect on the ideal prayer and perfect answer part three, let us remind ourselves of faith that comes alive in actions of our daily living.
The Seasons of grace are moments of life when it is filled with acts of kindness and compassion. Seasons of grace are seasons of life when from a place of splendor and honor and from a place of humility and simplicity we reach out to those who are in need of God.
Grace is measured by the life that it generates around us. When grace abounds in us, life in all its forms will be plentiful. It is life when we are able to convey to everyone that we all share from the gene pool of God and therefore part of one divine family, with a history and a future. This was the story of Mother Theresa who died on September 5th 1997.
Do we hear the voice of God when troubles in life set in? Yes, we can. If only we can be “quick to listen” as St. James would say. The more we hear, the less we talk instead let God talk.
The rituals for rituals sake Jesus is talking against, challenging people to live what the rituals call for, the song that Solomon is singing to celebrate the love that he found and the instructions for Christian life given by St. James all speak of one thing, the need for truthfulness in actions and belief. True prayer is the true expression of what is going on in our hearts through actions to prove it. True prayer generates life rather than defiles the self or others.
We have God’s response to such a state of in life as we hear in the Song of Solomon. Here is the union of the bride and the groom. We hear in the song of Solomon the oneness of the soul that has reached the peak of such relationship. Life becomes meaningful and fruitful. Every action in life brings forth fruits and flowers to adorn the earth and those on the earth. There is a fragrance of holiness around them. There springs forth new life and new energy. God’s answer is new life like the spring time around us and new possibilities like the moment of Resurrection.
Fr. Jos Tharakan
All Saints' Episcopal Church
501 South Phoenix Ave
Russellville, AR 72801