Psalm 146, 147 (Morning)
Psalm 111, 112, 113 (Evening)
1 Corinthians 4:9-16
1 Corinthians 4:9-16 (NRSV:) For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals. We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day.
I am not writing this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you might have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me.
If you’ve never read Thomas á Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ, well…you ought to.
One of the things that most struck me was discovering a quote from the book–“Wherever you go, there you are.”
You see, up to that moment, I had thought Yogi Berra had originated that one–or Buckaroo Bonzai.
Here is his quote in context:
“No one feels in his heart what Christ felt in his Passion, except the person who suffers as he did. So, the cross is always ready and waits for you everywhere. You cannot escape it no matter where you run, for wherever you go, you are burdened with yourself, and wherever you go, there you are. Look up, look down; look out, look in. Everywhere you will find the cross, and you must endure patiently if you wish to have inner peace and gain eternal life.”
Paul asks us to imitate Christ. Of course, none of us will be raising anyone from the tomb this week, or feeding multitudes out of our cache of leftovers in the fridge, or even turning a little tap water into Merlot. We won’t exactly be imitating Christ in those particular ways. Nor is it a good idea to make a whip out of cords and chase people out of the Farmer’s Market if we think they’re pricing their jams and jellies a little on the expensive side.
We’re probably better off imitating Christ by simply having the patience to allow our most authentic selves in relationship with God and with each other to emerge–but even then, Paul’s statements seem a bit harsh. “The rubbish of the world?” Being a used burrito wrapper for Jesus doesn’t sound all that great either.
Perhaps, though, Paul was not implying we totally debase ourselves, but rather to see ourselves as temporary beings.
Really, when we think about it, the things we throw in the trash, we toss because they have been used fully, and when the time and purpose for those things has passed, and nothing’s left but the rind, the wrapper, or the shell. Wherever we go in giving the gift of ourselves…well…there we are, in those gifts.
What could happen in a hurting, broken world if only we choose to use ourselves fully? What changes when we become fully present?
Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, writes about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid