Gleanings from the Lectionary – An Indefatigable Spirit

As I sat in church yesterday I found myself very grateful for the sabbatical I am enjoying. The occasional miscue in public worship was like water off a duck’s back as I sat in the pews. My family even contributed to the mayhem. One of Whit’s musical toys sounded off – TWICE. All I could do was smile. I wasn’t in charge of leading public worship as I have been for nearly fourteen years.

It would be easy to forget and look outwardly today as if life itself doesn’t take a toll. But it does. As does ministry! I’m no Paul but I empathize with him as he recounts all the physical challenges he has faced in ministry and then adds “And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of all my anxiety for all the churches.” See 2 Cor. 11:16-29. The daily pressure builds up especially for one who sees the church as set apart to achieve a very specific purpose, the reconciliation of unrighteous beings to a holy God.

In this day and age, full of ourselves as the chosen people, we have become far too worldly. Faithful leaders are forever swimming against that tide of secularism. How are we different? How is it we are consecrated or set apart? In any recognizable form? Pastors are under much pressure to be tidy and businesslike in church life when they know deep down that Kingdom life is messy and inefficient. The destination is clear but the waters that must be navigated can be exhausting. With the subjects of Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, we struggle to find the strength to keep our weary hands raised. We find ourselves “sluggish.” We “shrink back.”

And yet we are called upward, to another standard, to that of the indefatigable spirit. The letter to the Hebrews is a man up/buck up letter. It is crystalized in 12:3, “Consider him who endured from sinners hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” The remembrance of Jesus’ endurance itself has a transforming power. By the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit we can be transformed into His likeness, the likeness of the tireless one who endures for our sake, mine and yours. We need not remain weary. We can resist faintheartedness.

And there are earthly examples of people transformed in this very way. It blesses me to call John Rucyahana, the Bishop of Rwanda, my spiritual father. It blesses me more when he says to others I am his son, that I am Rwandese. 

Bishop John sets before us the example of an indefatigable spirit. If you do not know Bishop John or need a quick refresher, find a worthy of your time nine minute documentary here:

Like Jesus, John has endured hostility and not grown weary. In my 48 years I’ve not come across anyone so tireless in his efforts at reconciliation, man to God and person to person.

All this is to say, it is possible to have our strength renewed. Lord thank you for respites. Thank you more for the transforming power of a remembrance and earthy examples of its reality.

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