There’s not a lot of raising up happening, at least not in my neighborhood. I’m not even sure there are folx waiting for the Lord. I don’t think we know and we’ve dismissed so much of what we have heard. Sure, we might say that God is the Creator of all that is. I’m just not convinced that we allow this truth to sink into our lives and fill the void deep within. We keep trying to fit things into the emptiness in our lives. Sometimes we might feel satisfied for a moment or two. Then the yearning, the despair, the weariness makes itself known once again.
Maybe it’s because we make it all too personal. The words of the Prophet Isaiah were spoken to the people of God, not just one individual. We’ve forgotten how mythic imagination works best in community. When you are yearning for more than you can attain, the community around you can help clear a way for you. When you are on the brink of giving up because God seems so far away and your prayers seem unanswered, the community around you can hold hope for you and raise your prayers higher until you become aware of God’s presence once more. And the weariness that threatens us all these days, is abated when we come together as God’s people in worship, in song, in prayer, in lament, in earnest.
The Prophet was correct when he spoke about waiting for God and being raised upon things like eagles, running without weariness, and walking without tiring. This is only possible when we join together as God’s people. This cannot be sustained by one individual. As human beings, as part of Creation, we need one another; we are interdependent.
Not convinced by the ancient words of Isaiah? How about the actions of Jesus in Mark’s gospel? Simon’s mother-in-law was sick. Jesus healed her. Not for her benefit alone. The impact on the community was remarkable. We can get distracted by the line that says Peter’s mother-in-law immediately started serving the people in her home, or we can see this as a sign that she regained her vital role in the community. She who was sick was made whole and in her wholeness she offered hospitality to her guests. When we are whole, we strengthen the community by using our gifts and talents in service to others.
Then the crowds came. Jesus didn’t deny them. He healed all who came. He restored them to wholeness and gave them opportunities to serve their neighbors. The gift of wholeness is not meant to be hoarded by the strong; it is meant to be employed in raising up the most vulnerable around us. If any of us has been gifted with healing and wholeness, then we must use it to the glory of God by serving the least among us. Peter’s mother-in-law is a beautiful example of what wholeness could look like in a community where all are waiting for God, waiting to participate in the raising up of all our neighbors.
Yes, we can take time to go off to a quiet place to rest and to pray and to renew our spirits. Yet, even when we are away, the community of God’s people goes with us. It is on their strength that we can rest and seek renewal. It is on their hopes and dreams that we each can build God’s realm here and now. Just as we are one, we are many.
Theological math never quite adds up in a logical way. However, in a spiritual way it makes sense. We worship one God who engages the world in many forms, traditionally triune–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So too, the people of God. We say Christ has one body, the Church. Yet, there are many churches made up of many, many individuals. One Body, many members. Paul was right about this. Yet, we have a tendency to make faith all about us as individuals – what can God do for me? It’s time we turn this around and ask what we can do for God. Are we using our gifts and seeking wholeness to our own benefit or to strengthen the community of God’s people? Are we losing ourselves in the weariness that persists everywhere today or are we asking to be raised up to our rightful place as part of the Body of Christ, the people of God?
We can wait for God to intervene and repair what is broken. Yet, our waiting needs to be active. We need to be joining with our neighbors, building relationships, drawing in those we have marginalized, strengthening the community… you know, repairing what we have broken and seeing what God reveals in the healing. Together, with God and one another, we can rise up on wings like eagles…