Monday, August 27, 2012

 The epistles is James 1:17-27.  It begins with the statement:

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 

The blogging is not going great.  My goal was to simply reflect on the lectionary passages for the week, but I am already struggling with perfectionism.  I want to have a pile of commentaries.  I want to produce a more polished reflection, but that is not the task I have time for, or the one I have set out for myself.  So, I will try and get into the thick of it again and plod on with reflection rudimentary and frequent.  

God does not change, but the example of change-- "like shifting shadows" --is not especially comforting.   It seems to leave a lot of room.  There are many things that change less than shifting shadows, but that are still too undependable.  It is best to connect the example "like shifting shadows" to the name of God in this passage, "Father of the heavenly lights."  Certainly, the sun and the stars and the moon locked into their places of permanence in the heavens are the not at all like shadows.  They persist, creating the steady light that consistently illuminates the passing chiaroscuro of shadows--the world may grow darker, or, the world may wax brighter, but, God doesn't change,  God remains, the unyielding divine light.

There is a lot in this passage, but I will comment on one more aspect.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 

 There is much I could reflect on in the final part of the passage.  I certainly feel convicted by the admonishment to be a doer of the law, and not just a hearer.   Yet, even more, I feel convicted by the close connection between "true religion" and my speaking.  I can get caught up in doing the right thing and yet speak evil of it.  I can mock doing it, be wry and uncharitable, and choose wittiness and derision over faithfulness.  I do a pretty good job (trying) to hear God's voice and to implement it, but my tongue can turn against my own attempts at faithfulness.  I think it is a kind of reflexive self-protection.  I fear seeming silly for my earnest community life, for my attempts at fidelity  and I sometimes bury my activities under a barrage of irony.  I wonder if in doing so, I am not being humble, a Midwest self-abnegant , but,  whether I am being proud?  r

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