Our sermon series this new year has been about “diseases” or “germs” that can infect our faith. Personally, I have battled the more mundane germs, specifically the flu. While not life threatening nor faith crushing, it seemed like a battle anyway. Runny nose and coughing up a lung now and then was a full-time activity for almost three weeks. I stayed home so as not to inflict my battles on anyone else and successfully shared my experiences with Martha as a result.
All of us handle illness in different ways. Martha would tell you that I resemble Camille on her fainting couch gasping for her last breath. The only element missing was the orchestral strings pining my death song. Fade to Black.
Yes, I seem to emote way too much and become self-fixated when I am ill. Perhaps you can identify with that. So, it is certainly not difficult to listen to our sermons with a touch of personal investment.
Giving of our best-selves is what generosity is all about. Our natural instinct is to want to give away our worst problems, habits and darkest thoughts. If that were the teaching of Jesus, I would put my VISA bill in the offering plate and hope that someone else would pay it or put in an empty wine bottle hoping for a refill. But, indeed, that is not what Jesus calls us to do. We are called to give back to God our best. Our best efforts, our best talents and our money.
When we are at our spiritual healthiest, we give these things gladly. At our darkest, we lay on our fainting couches and moan about how little we have to give. Being spiritually healthy comes from and is maintained by our relationships as a community of faith. That is where our spiritual healing takes place and we all nurse each other back to health and provide the mutual support that keeps us healthy.
It is also where we are fed and empowered to do ministry and to hear voices calling us to be better than we think we can be. The current sermon series certainly has given us some STRONG marching orders. To carry those out we need to be at our spiritual healthiest. Attending worship, giving generously and supporting each other is just what the Doctor ordered.