Saturday, September 20, 2014

"What Does This Babbler Wish to Say?"

 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.  -- (Acts 17:16-34)

This morning's daily lectionary passage rang a bell with me.  On the day after the masses swarmed to stores all over the United States to pick up their newest iPhone with the simultaneous massive uptick in money exchanging hands, I couldn't help resonating with the word "idol." When ISIS, the current Middle Eastern purveyors of fear and violence, is rampaging across their countryside beheading people we turn to the real place our faith is at - drones, laser-guided missiles, and weapon sales to supposed would-be allies in dark alleys.  When learned medical people stand before the masses and declare the coming health apocalypse of Ebola, diabetes, obesity, or antibiotic resistant diseases, and they want us to throw our faith into multi-million dollar research for drugs that will largely benefit only the wealthy Caucasian population centers of the world.  When seekers for spiritual truth throw aside the traditions of "religion" as too archaic, patriarchal, superstitious, and/or worn thin on truth and pursue a quest for something more spiritually fulfilling in the stars, wind, or sky there is a powerful resemblance to the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers of Athens worshiping the statue to "the unknown god."

Salvation from all these mentioned "realities" of worldly daily life is not something that is in our hands.  Peace and a true sense of safety will not be found where we are looking for it -- namely from our own human will and effort.  Those efforts might rescue our mortal bodies or assuage our anxieties by hearkening to electronic bells and whistles that enable an anesthetized denial to shroud our worries and fears, but they will not truly release us from them.

Paul went with the men of Athens to the Areopagus.  The Areopagus was where the Greek court of appeals met to hear arguments of criminal or civil law.  Paul stood in their midst, in their court of law, and declared how the living God was known through all that has been created and by the revelation that was brought through God's son, Jesus Christ.  Through Jesus Christ we find a sure and certain peace, perspective on love, and lessons on the way life is intended both in this world and in the eternal life promised far beyond this life.  "Because Christ lives, we can face tomorrow."  We can get our worry-bugs wrapped around the fear mongering flag pole that pulls us into a panicked rush to the idols human leaders put up for us to worship.  Or we can believe and have faith in the stronger more eternal truth that Jesus Christ truly saves now and forever.

Eternal Keeper of Peace, we pray for healing of our fractured world, the cessation of anger, worry, and violence and ask your help in worshiping you, the one true God.  Amen.