This Week in Prayer
“Lead, follow or get out of the way.” The catchy slogan can serve us well in our athletic endeavors, our professional pursuits, and many other circumstances. When it comes to living out our baptismal promises, however, we need to adopt a slightly altered axiom: “Always follow God; lead others when that is what God wants; follow others when that is what God wants; always stay out of the way of grace (i.e., don’t make it difficult for others to experience God’s grace.” When we get that all straight, we serve well.
Sunday’s first reading, from the Book of Zephaniah, provides negative examples, stories that we should try not to imitate. The basic story is one of lousy leaders bringing out the worst in people by coaxing them to worship false Gods and to mistreat the disadvantaged. These leaders cared mostly about their egos and status. They did not follow God. Neither did they lead in ways that aligned with God’s hopes. And they seemed determined to impede the flow of God’s consoling graces. These self-guided leaders suffered deportation shortly after Zephaniah issued his warning. They were not among those left in Jerusalem during the Exile. These villains were not among “the remnant of Israel (who) do no wrong and speak no lies; (who) shall pasture and couch their flocks with none to disturb them.”
Sunday’s second reading comes from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, one of the epistles attributed to Paul that he really did write. In it, Paul reminds the Christians in Corinth that their high-flying neighbors regard them (the Christians) as lacking wisdom, power and nobility. The Christians are thus not in a position to exert leadership in Corinth – and that is fine with Paul because it is fine with God. The Christians can be followers, as long as the following does not violate their faith. Paul also reminds his people that, in their relationship with Christ, they possess beautiful wisdom, power and nobility.
The Beatitudes in the Gospel illustrate our adjusted maxim: “always follow God, lead others when that is what God wants; follow others when that is God’s desire; always stay out of grace’s way.” The first beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit” reminds us we are always to follow God’s lead, not just our own impulses. The “poor in spirit” are those who continually remember that God’s hope is what matters, that God’s dreams are what counts and our job is to discern them and desire them. The beatitude “blessed are the meek” affirms humility. It blesses the inclination to be humble enough to follow others when doing so seems to align with God’s desires. Finally, Jesus’ affirmation of “peacemakers” and of those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” reminds us that God sometimes invites us to get out in front, to change the world, to lead the charge by leading others in God’s ways.
So, what about you? In what ways are you getting it just right? Habitually trying to want what God wants, leading when that is what God wants, following when that is appropriate, staying out of grace’s way? You are surely leading others in some capacities – in your family, at school, on your team, at work, in the community. What are some of the indications that your leadership aligns with God’s hopes? And what about following? What are the circumstances in which you endorse others’ leadership? What are some of your reasons to believe that your decision to follow along aligns with God’s hopes and that you are following as God wants?
This week in service:
- This weekend, and throughout the month of February (and a little bit into March), many ministries will be recruiting new members and re-recruiting old members who have taken well-deserved sabbaticals. This weekend in the gathering space you will encounter recruiters for: Altar Servers, Eucharistic Ministers for Mass, Eucharistic Ministers for Avalon and Bridgeway, Eucharistic Ministers for Carrier Clinic, and Sacristans. Might the Holy Spirit be giving you a slight elbow to join one of these ministries?
- On February 11, our high school teens are spending a day performing Random Acts of Kindness all around Hillsborough. If you want to be part of the day you can sponsor a Random Act for $5 by placing your gift in the 'poor box'.
This week in community:
Be sure to mark your calendars for the upcoming fellowship events. The posters and postcards in the gathering space list a gaggle of opportunities to come to church for pure fun. Two of those events occur within the next month:
- BINGO! Yes, that Catholic social staple is back for one night only. February 17th will be Family Bingo Night! All proceeds will be donated to the youth group's 30 Hour Famine charities - World Vision, Elijah's Promise and S.H.I.P. Come have some fun and feed the hungry!
- Nashville Christian Recording Artist PJ Anderson will be performing here on Saturday March 4th. If you have been to one of PJ’s concerts you know how they lift your soul towards all that is good and holy. If you don’t already know that, come and experience it.
Once again, chin up. Saturday marks winter’s halfway point. The days are getting noticeably longer and a few of the overambitious daffodils have started to assert themselves. Spring will be here soon.
All best blessings.