30 Apr 2015
[Scripture Readings: Acts 13:13-25; John 13:16-20]
“Don’t get settled. And don’t get unsettled, either,” Jesus seems to say. Don’t get settled. And don’t get unsettled. If we get a little too accustomed to one particular way of doing things, we’ll be unsettled by what God is trying to do. Instead, it seems best to remain fluid in spirit and mind—not like a tumbleweed, but more like a kite: free to move with the wind, and yet grounded by its guide, its shepherd.
When St. Paul spoke in the synagogue and showed how Jesus was the next “step” in salvation history, the fulfillment of the prophecies, he showed that his faith was truly alive. He was not settled in mind and spirit. He was passionate about his Jewish faith: its rituals, practices, and beliefs. He was passionate about it, but he was not a slave to it; although, he had started to get settled.
When St. Stephen was stoned to death, Paul had been settled in his faith just enough to not recognize Christ as the fulfillment of the prophecies. But he wasn’t settled so much that God couldn’t work in him and open his eyes. Paul was reawakened to the living God, and he ended up with a renewed sense of life, purpose, and living faith. And so, Jesus says, “Don’t get settled, even in the practices of our faith.”
If we get too accustomed to our ways of thinking, to our usual ways of doing things as individuals, as a parish, as a church, how can we expect to be real followers of Jesus, the Way? The first disciples were, perhaps, too accustomed, too settled in their ways. Jesus gives them plenty of opportunities to get it in their heads that God is alive and at work . . . and so don’t get unsettled when certain things happen. In effect, he was saying to them: “Don’t be followers of your own expectations; be followers of me.”
And that sounds good, but it’s a hard thing to do. We like the parish the way it is. We like our committees and our discussions about this detail or that detail. We like our traditions. We like our devotional practices. We like to sit in the same spot in the same pew. And that’s okay. But Jesus says: “Don’t get settled.” Don’t get settled to the point of being unable to move when God moves.
Life is always changing. Our God is a living God. And our faith is a living faith.