Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Increase and Decrease

Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John 3:25-30

Many of us have suffered much loss in the recent past. Job loss due to cut backs and budgets can be overwhelming to individuals. Identity and capacity is questioned. When we moved in with my mother when a job ended, it was hard to not be hurt and angry with the situation and the world. Even harder has been caring for my mother as her capacity diminishes and she needs more help. We try to help her without her knowing, try to honor and respect her and let her feel as if she is still in control, despite what she cannot do so well any more.

John has been baptizing and preparing people for Christ's coming. His disciples don't want to see his ministry abate as they have been empowered, strengthened and deepened in their relationship with God. What they know is passing away and they are terribly afraid of the coming days. They do not want to lose what they know. None of us do, and yet we are all temporal being, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Change and departures are inevitable and yet we are paralyzed with fear, anger and hurt. But God is more enough for all the changes we face, all the rivers and valleys, the rough terrain, the frightening loses and the slow diminishing and the fading away. And even more, God promises to be close by, holding us tenderly in the worst of times, bringing us soft words of hope and strength in our darkest hours.

Today I ask God to help me quiet down and listen for God's empowerment and strength in my life. In my weakness and humanity may I cry out to God, knowing that God will be my rock and my strength in the roughest seas and the wildest storms. May we all trust God when our lives are overwhelmed, knowing that God is more present and active in this life than we can know or imagine. May we be ambassador of love and hope in a world that is overwhelmed with anxiety and fear. May we share the light and the hope we have received from God as we face the inevitable changes ahead.

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