Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany
My days are spent doing good to others: pretending to be a wizard wielding powerful wands with our six-year-old daughter, giving words of affirmation to my poet spouse, encouraging the “at risk” high school interns who work in our café, feeding neighbors tasty and nutritious meals in a safe, warm space. Though this work is indeed good, it can sometimes be exhausting.
So, for Jesus to advise his followers to also do good “to those who hate you,” to bless “those who curse you,” and to pray for “those who abuse you” seems extra daunting. Sometime I don’t think I even have enough goodness, blessing, and prayers to go around to those who are kind to me! These expectations for God-followers are highly absurd.
Yet this absurdity is our high calling: to do the preposterous, the unimaginable, to show love for enemies, to act kindly toward our attackers, our backbiters, and those who don’t even know they’re being jerks. This is where we participate in real magic!
To wish peace to the one who calls us hurtful names sets us free from the chains with which they are trying to shackle us. To walk away from relationship with the one who has abused us in body and spirit sets us free from the lie that we deserve to be treated badly. To be kind to those who are ungrateful for our goodness and gifts, and to be merciful to those who act wickedly toward us and our loved ones requires the deepest magic of all: love.
Practicing love for enemies and a non-judgmental posture brings brightness to a world that is steeped in hopelessness and gloom. Our ability to forgive quickly, lend generously, and love lavishly (even those we perceive as “enemies”) stands out in a world that seems sometimes incessantly lightless. This is the magic we are called to practice, because we are living for Jesus, the light of the world.
Christie Melby-Gibbons, Moravian pastor
founder, Tricklebee Café