Thursday, April 16, 2015

Charge Your Batteries

Last night at a social function, a parishioner asked our curate and me, "How do you keep your batteries charged? Y'all are like Energizer bunnies." I thanked him for his compliment and said a silent prayer of thanksgiving that the fatigue I'm still feeling from two weeks ago isn't showing. And then I thought more about his question. How do I keep my battery charged?

On Wednesday of last week, I preached a sermon on Peter and John's encounter with a man lame from birth at the Jerusalem temple. On Sunday, we'll read the follow-up to that encounter in Acts 3:12-19. The crowd in the temple was amazed that this lame man was suddenly up and walking and dancing and praising God. Peter's response to their surprise says a lot about the nature of Christian ministry: "When Peter saw the astonishment of those who had seen the lame man healed, he addressed the people, 'You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk?'" Who healed the man? It wasn't Peter, and it wasn't John. It was the resurrected Jesus himself who accomplished this miracle. As Peter put it, "...his name itself has made this man strong," clearly directing the focus of the crowd back on the power of Jesus' name.

The same is true for everyone who professes to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Everyone who works in the name of Jesus accomplishes that work through a power that comes not from within but from above. Whether we preach or teach or pastor, whether we help or comfort or pray, whether we heal or lead or labor, we do so through the name that is above every name--the mighty name of Jesus.

How do we keep our batteries charged? In the answer that I gave our parishioner, I described how it is my "job" to take care of myself. "I get paid to pray and spend time in quiet and study the bible and exercise," I explained. "When I take care of myself, I am living out my calling as a disciple of Jesus and as a priest in the Episcopal Church. It's my job to be spiritually nourished and to invite others to do the same."

I can't do this job on my own. As Peter professed, it isn't my power or even my piety that makes it possible for me to run around and do all the things that a clergyperson is called to do. I am filled with the Holy Spirit and given a share in the power of Jesus' name. And so are you--so are all of us. Forgetting that--whether by neglecting our spiritual disciplines or by developing a messianic complex--is a recipe for defeat.

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