Monday, March 27, 2017

Call me Ananias

One of the texts for today is from Acts and it is about the transformation of Paul and the role of Ananias in his life.

Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. 
The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” 
The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”
 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.”
 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
 So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 
And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
 For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”

I have always, always liked this story so much.  This is what I like about it

 - The Lord Calls him by name
 - His response - Here I am Lord
 - Ananias has trepidation about reaching out to Paul
 - God gives Paul a vision to prepare him for Ananias visit
 - Ananias lays hands on him
 - The scales fall from Paul's eyes
 - Essentially Paul goes on his own way and shares his experience.
 What this says to me is that we each have a role in each other's transformation or spiritual growth.  Sometimes God leads us to people who intimidate us for various reasons.  And sometimes it involves a single encounter in which we don't really do much but are present and obedient.

As I read this story I feel like it is about what I call my "little life."  Last week I was in Charlotteville Virginia at the Festival of the Book and listening to a lot of really educated people share their knowledge and some of their life experiences.  I can easily fall into feelings of inadequacy when I compare my life to theirs.  This text reminds me that what we do in this spiritual life is be open to the visions and the voices and the nudges that lead us to be present to guide others on their journeys.  And sometimes - like Ananias - we are almost a footnote in the life of another who goes on to make a mark in history.  We in our faithfulness can be part of someone else's new beginning.  As they are part of ours.  And that is surely enough.  More than enough.

And so I begin this week full of hope and trusting that God is at work in my life bringing me people to help me to see better and leading me to be present with others who are blind.  That seems like very good news.


Here is a prayer by Edwina Gately

O living God, soften us!
Let the fire of your love
thaw the frost within us.
Let the light of your justice
sear away our blindness,
Let the grace of your compassion
heal our hardened spirits.

O living God, soften us!
That, flowing with your grace,
we be impelled to face the world
in bold compassion,
that, driven to justice,
we may dare to cry aloud
for the little ones,
the raped, the beaten
the imprisoned, and the hungry.

O living God, soften us!
Sweep us forward
in a Mighty Wave of Mercy
to heal our darkened world.

Edwina Gateley

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