Plumes of dark brown smoke fill the sky because of a nearby wildfire. Ashes from the fire fall from above, the smell of burning wood permeates the air and we worry about what we are taking into our bodies with each breath. It is a first stage smog alert, we can feel the pain of breathing the poisoned air and we know that what has entered us is not healthy. In a world experiencing the atrocity of war in Ukraine, where almost weekly there are reports of another mass shooting, where there are scams, manipulation and cut-throat competition we wonder if our very lives are inhabited by anything but violence, struggle and stress.
The Good News for disciples of Jesus is that there is more that inhabits our lives than smoke, smog and corrupt behavior. We are told in John’s Gospel of a most wonderful, yet sometimes forgotten, resident of our lives. Jesus says. “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him (John 14:23-39)”. The almighty, all wonderful, all powerful God inhabits our lives! In the midst of all the events and circumstances of our lives that we live and breathe, there lives God who has taken up residency within us.
When we are experiencing nature’s disasters and life’s tragedies, it is difficult to recognize God’s dwelling place within us. So Jesus goes on to say, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid (John 14:23-29).” Distress and fear are certainly understandable responses in times of difficulty. At the same time, with the grace of God, they do not have to rule every waking or sleeping hour of our lives. There is life within us that is bigger than any disaster, conflict or pain that we may be undergoing. Some may be skeptical of really believing that God has chosen to dwell within us but are kind of fascinated by the idea. Others call upon that Divine Resident daily.
It matters what is taken into our bodies, whether it be toxic smoke or delicious food. We care about what is present in our lives, whether it be agony or joy. As God’s beloved, we can enjoy a quality of life that we never dreamed possible if our concern for what resides in us expands beyond events and circumstances. No matter what is happening in our lives and world, every day is an opportunity to welcome the Divine Resident who is with us through it all.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher H. Smith, Rector