Rebuilding a country
"In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and
said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I
tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in
his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you,
whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when
you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may
forgive you your sins.’” (Mark 11:20-25, NIV)
Trite sayings take on greater efficacy and validity when folks stop saying them and start doing them. I have said it. You've probably said and heard it said, "I'll pray for ya." Then, we get on with life or pause briefly to utter some warm fuzzy thoughts. What would it look like if we fell prostrate on the ground with our faces in the dirt and really came before God like the dirty people that we are? Instead of hollow platitudes we would offer the Almighty our broken and repentant hearts. Heaven knows we have overstepped our boundaries and failed to be Christ-like. It is time to realign with our God. It is time to rebuild our country.
This time of year, the dying leaves are falling and blowing in the wind. Lawns are messy and strewn with leaves. Clean-up is a must. At First UMC, we have a barren paper cut-out tree hanging in the sanctuary. In a reversal of fortunes, we are empowering folks to grab a leaf, write something for which they are thankful, and re-leaf the barren tree. I personally think the metaphor is effective and timely.
If this time in our country demands anything right now, it is people praying for each other, for our government leaders, and for ourselves. Crisis often blinds us to a multitude of things for which we should actually be thankful. Maybe it's time to pause and reset the machine. It's time to simplify and go back to the basics of our faith. Daily impassioned conversations with our Creator should be priority; even more now since our country seems to be unraveling at it's core.
Jesus encouraged his disciples to pray and not just move their lips but seriously engage their hearts and minds into their spoken words. In a 21st century translation, Jesus would have said, "Stop babbling on and on and really invest your life into those for whom you are praying. Enough with the trite words and sayings!" "Pray! Believe! Receive!"
The last sentence in the text for today is something I need to embrace and live into more and more. I feel like sometimes my prayers rise upward to the ceiling and bounce back down on my head. Usually caused by a conflict within or between somebody and myself.
This is a call to repentance and confession of those within the church to become loving, compassionate, prayer warriors. Join me as I seek to repair the relationships I have wounded and you can do likewise with those whom you have injured with harsh words. Christians are called to be counter-cultural. Praying to repair relationships, praying for those with whom we argue, and praying for total strangers flies in the face of a worldly message of revolt, rioting, and hate. It's time for the church to rise up and be the clarion call of God's peace and justice. It's time to rebuild.