Year A - 7th Sunday of Easter or Assured 7
June 1, 2014
1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11
Every life and age has to find a way to deal with suffering loss. We come up with all manner of ways to deal with this. Each of the world-wide and indigenous religions have their model such as a once-for-ever earth to heaven or turning wheel to release or some unifying now.
There really is no surprise that life goes awry, that we block one another’s gifts and growth.
What is surprising is that a humility toward our circumstance cuts across all difficulties and opens us to wisdom found beyond our claimed givens. Humility here is not a passive acceptance, but entails a widening awareness through disciplines that narrow distractions and open more room to breathe. This humility will bring us to patient learning/teaching and revolutionary points of decision that here is where we will stand.
Whether our loss be long or our relief be distant, our solidarity in suffering is restorative, supportive, and strengthening. This is a potential core around which all our various perspective can find room for one another. Might you take one more step toward establishing a common cause with one more person who has lost sight of the kindness still possible.
Note: there is an elision in this pericope that does need to be present for us to continue to do good when feeling dismissed. The New Community Bible uses headings for sections. Here at the end of 1 Peter they run: “Suffering as a Christian”, “Advice to the Presbyters”, and “Advice to the Community” before concluding with “Final Greetings”.
It would be instructive to use this three-fold structure in a worship setting. Begin with our commonality of suffering. Use a variety of processes to draw forth not just the easy surface sufferings it is culturally OK to talk about, but those deeper sufferings behind our discomforts. Shift to how church and state have added to those sufferings by imposing theories absent the sufferers at the table. Analyze the disjunctures of prejudice and discrimination that isolate and continue injustice. Shift again to claim the communal power to raise the fallen and return the exiled.
This will all take time. It is not an hour’s worth of work, but a lifetime’s. If we are not intentional in coming as close as we can to some on-going rhythm such as: Suffering caused by privileged leaders can be rectified by a compassionate community—we are institutionalizing further suffering.