We extend our thanks to Brendan Armitage for offering this week’s devotion.
“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”~~ Genesis 3:19 (KJV)
I can usually tell who I’m parked next to in church. After 17 years of church membership, I recognize Craig and Sarah park off in the corner on Sundays. I know 50 SUVs belonging to 48 different families. You may recognize the silver Toyota Camry I’ve been driving since 2005. But recently, for the first time in many years, I had to drive…a rental. Arranged by another person’s insurance company, I found myself driving something called a Dodge Charger. The thing was brand-new, all-black, had 282 horsepower and an 8-speed manual transmission. Compared to my Camry, I will admit that driving the backroads of Lancaster and Lebanon counties was a bit more…interesting than normal. (No tickets and no accidents though, thanks be to God.)
There are times in each of our lives when we have a bit more power than we’re accustomed to, don’t we? Maybe you’re in charge of a group’s dinner party and everyone looks to you to decide what to bring? Perhaps you’re speaking for your work group at a corporate meeting? Or in my case, I had an extra 200 horsepower to use driving down the road.
How do we handle that power? Do we respond from humility and a noble sense of higher purpose? Do we allow the deference provided to us by others to change how we act and behave? I found that I vacillated between each of those thoughts, depending on my mood. Although I’m certain that St. Peter Lutheran’s congregants all act with humility (we earn our nickname “frozen chosen” every day, after all), perhaps we are sometimes swayed to act from other than our best intentions?
“Humility” is a foundational word. From the Old French “humilite” and the even older Latin “humus”, which means “earth” or “ground”, we are reminded as Christians to be humble and to have a low view of our own importance.
In God, we are grounded. We are reminded, in this age of nuclear weapons and gene-splicing, that our very survival as homo sapiens requires humility and deference to God. Without that deference, we each take on the mantle of God, and sow the seeds of our own destruction as people of God and of our society as a whole. We are God’s unworthy servants, happily and humbly, and nothing more than that.
While Lent is in our future, take a moment today to pray for humility, for grounding, for someone in your life to kindly remind you of our common nature, won’t you? Close your eyes. Smile as you did as a child. Take a deep breath (and then let it out), and pray that instructive line from Genesis: “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”.
See you in church.