When I was semi-serious about marathon running, it was all-consuming. Running up to 70 miles in a week takes a lot of time. But it’s not just the running itself. Running told me what to eat. Running told me when to sleep and how much. Running told me what to do at night. Running organized my life; it was the lens through which I understood my world and made my choices.
We all have these things; Paul Tillich calls it our “ultimate concern,” the meaning which gives meaning to all our meanings. We construct these things. We decide what is ultimate for us. The trick, as we all eventually discover, is that some things are not worthy of being ultimate in our lives. In the end, running could not bear the weight. For a while, it gave me life. Really. On those long runs through the woods of Florida, I found God. Then, I found, it was a way of hiding from life. It was exhausting, draining.
I wonder if there is some sign of this in what the liturgical year brings us this Sunday. It is Christ the King Sunday, the day that Jesus returns in judgment and begins to rule the world. He rules with justice and love, but he still rules. I wonder if, ultimately, any system of power, even one with Jesus at the top, can live up to being ultimate. I wonder if it is enough to simply organize one’s life around something, to hold up a single image as the model for how we understand our world and live in it, especially when that image appears to be masking God with Caesar.
Maybe that’s why it is also Stir Up Sunday. Stir Up Sunday asks us to be stirred. It’s not merely organizing our lives, achieving order and certainty, a comfortable rhythm of life, but being moved, being messed up a little bit. Judgment is an ugly word, especially for this church. It threatens. It hurts. But maybe it also stirs. If the lens through which we view the world is worthy of being ultimate, it might ought to disorient us a little, shake us up, and stir us to engage, not only the world, but the lens through which we see it.
Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Kidd Springs Rec Center, as we talk about our images of God and how they frame our understanding of ourselves and the world and what we are to do. How do we judge ourselves? For whom is that Good News? And what stirs us up? See you there!
Grace & Peace,