I’ve lived a whole lot of my life in between one thing and another. Even generationally, I am definitely not a Baby Boomer, but I’m on the early side of Gen Xers. In high school I walked between cliques with friends in many, while I fit with none. When I chose my major in college I chose psychology because, at the time, I thought it was between the arts and the sciences and neither English nor Biology had felt quite right as a major. As someone who is bisexual, I have felt on the outside of both gay and straight communities. Even my life in the church is feeling more and more like another in-between space.
The church I was prepared for serving is not the church that is emerging. The church that depends on buildings and programming and committee meetings really isn’t terribly common anymore. So much of what was important in my growing up years and the years early in my ministry, doesn’t fit with where most people are these days. It’s hard to let go of the nostalgic warm fuzzy thoughts of lobster luncheons (I grew up on Cape Cod), strawberry festivals, week-long Christmas fairs, children’s choirs, Lenten Luncheons, and so many other things that were dependent on a completely different social structure. I think about the next 15 or so years before retirement and really wonder if I will be able to continue serving as a full-time pastor when churches are really moving toward part-time, bi-vocational clergy. I have no other vocation. My years in ministry began before I was old enough to drink.
So I find myself asking what I am to do as I read Naaman’s story. I understand his frustration. I understand his desire for something special. He wanted God to display God’s power in some big, extraordinary way. Instead, Naaman was told to go jump in the river seven times. No big deal, really. Still, it was a bit of a letdown for Naaman. Although, I bet he didn’t feel too disappointed by the time he was done and he was healed. It was just God’s way of telling Naaman to check his ego at the door, or to at least leave it on the river bank.
Maybe this is the way it is to be for me, as well. I live in between one thing and another. Maybe my lot is to be a part of the bridge that will lead from what was to what will be. As much as I want God to work in extraordinary ways in my life, I should pay more attention to the ordinary, because that’s where the healing is. That’s where the true path to the future lies. It also makes it easier to leave behind what isn’t really necessary which is what Jesus told the disciples to do. Leave all the unnecessary baggage behind.
There’s freedom in this in-between place to go where God calls. If it’s jumping in a river seven times to remind us all that in humbleness there is healing, then okay. If it is to live the Good News with those around us as we share our lives with them, then okay. If it is to bear one another’s burdens, then okay. There is beauty in the ordinary. There is hope in the in-between places. It makes me wonder, with joyful anticipation, what the church might look like when it rises from those healing waters with her face all shiny and new. Maybe this in-between life really is quite extraordinary after all…
So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.
RCL – Year C – Seventh Sunday after Pentecost – July 3, 2016
2 Kings 5:1-14 with Psalm 30 or
Isaiah 66:10-14 with Psalm 66:1-9
Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
Photo: CC-BY-NC image by Rachael Keefe