Wednesday, August 27, 2008
One of the challenges I had as a new bishop was finding churches and meeting spaces I had never before known. Since I was elected to a diocese I had never served in, I was a stranger to most places I encountered. I was diligent in getting very specific directions from my assistant, and also map-questing directions when necessary or as a backup. I didn't have a gps, they were barely available then, and I was frequently lost. I would often feel a real sense of panic, circling in unfamiliar territory, trying to call someone to help me get where I needed to go. I was never ashamed to ask directions but was frequently surprised when local folks had no idea where their local church was. Being lost, whether on a journey or at a crucial juncture in one's life, can be very unsettling and painful. When all familiar landmarks have disappeared, when there is no one on the street to ask, and when no one answers on the other end of the line - well, this can be overwhelmingly difficult. Often times, when seeking direction, God send us in a whole new direction, on a whole new path.
In Acts 10, Peter and Cornelius separately are seeking direction from God. Cornelius gets real clear directions from God through the presence of an angel. Peter too, gets real clear direction from God. "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." The two men have a fateful meeting after Peter has to follow alien men to go to Cornelius' house. Seeking direction can often lead us to very uncomfortable places, places that we would never go on our own to associate with people who are completely alien to us.
Today, I want to be open to God's direction, knowing that I might just be lead to some people and places I would not chose for myself. I want to remember all of those who have lost their way, asking that God might send them angels to tell them how to go and new friends who demonstrate God's love in new ways. I know that there is pain and shame among those who are lost, but God repeatedly uses these moments throughout scripture and in our lives to renew us and bring us home. Sometimes home is a whole new place with very different people. May we all have the courage to seek God's direction, to follow angels and to enter strange households, knowing God goes with us.