Luke 3:15-22 King James Version “Perfect Practice”
15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;
This passage begins with people caught up in the epic rap battle: John versus Jesus. Who’s who? Who’s fit to untie whose sandal? What’s happening? What’s next?
John baptizes people, including Jesus, foretells that Jesus will separate the wheat from the chaff, and John gets thrown into prison. Jesus steps in, a dove lands on him, and the passage closes: “a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”
The part that I find most Covenant-ish is the way Jesus settles the people’s anxiety just by showing up and how the voice, “well pleased” with Jesus, adds another layer of comfort. (Sorry if that image conjures a toilet paper ad.) Sure, some of these people probably stayed anxious, or grew even antsier with new questions: Am I a wheat person or more of a chaffy type? Isn’t there a tiny bran bud in chaff? At Covenant, we practice opening to the possibility of letting go of this sorting business.
At Covenant, many of us work to manage our “business,” our expectations, and heart musings through meditation, yoga, prayer, labyrinth walks, church retreats, bible study, coffee klatching, fellowship, and service. We try to open to the settling respite of Jesus. Still, expectation--the kind that Lent and Advent, by definition, bring—along with garden-variety uncertainty—these feelings of worry and doubt persist in unsettling us. We attack them with clenched jaws, tight lips, and tighter grasps. We plan, we plot; we fret and fiddle. We can’t wait.
Those of a certain age will recall one of the earliest cases of song sellouts when, circa 1979, the friendly folks at Heinz used Carly Simon’s love song, “Anticipation” to sell ketchup (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoLoyg3JKRQ). “It’s keepin’ me wa-ai-aitin.’’’ One boy chastises another at the table, “Your mean your mom doesn’t buy Heinz?” Capitalism and sexism aside, my Easter wish is for people find peace in times of anxious anticipation by letting go.
At Covenant, we say a prayer of confession addressed to the “God of letting go.”
We commit to self-compassion, letting go of our unhelpful self-criticism, honoring the past, and embracing hope for the future (but trying not to cling too much).
We learn from Thich Nhat Hanh, Louis McKinney, and other teachers. We practice unclenching our jaws and fists, settling into our breath. We practice. And we know that “practice makes perfect,” only in a different way from the usual understanding of the adage. Laura Mayo’s sermon this Lenten season showed that God’s sense of us = perfection. Practice is all we can do. That is the perfection of our humanness. And sometimes we have to wait. Happy Easter!
Love, Ann C.